At last year’s Pac-12 Media Days event, coming off of a 7-6 campaign, Washington Huskies head football coach Chris Petersen decried the hype and outsize expectations surrounding the Dawgs’ upcoming season by famously comparing his team to the Pokemon Go mobile game that had just recently launched. In short, Petersen said, the Huskies hadn’t done anything yet at that point to deserve such lofty expectations.
After winning 12 games and winning the program’s first outright conference championship since Don James strode the sidelines of Husky Stadium, suffice to say that any such hype this year is quite justified.
This year, Petersen didn’t shy away from the attention his program attracts from both rival programs and the media. Rather, he focused on the tall task his young players will face as they begin to replace departed superstars like Budda Baker, John Ross and Kevin King.
“They know what the standard is, they know what it looks like,” said Petersen of his inexperienced players who are expected to play key roles in 2017, such as expected starting cornerback and redshirt freshman Byron Murphy. “You don’t just reload that and go, ‘play like Kevin, play like Budda.’ But they know what it looks like, they know what it feels like. And we’ll get them there. That’s the trick to really good coaching, is how fast can we get them there.”
Meanwhile, quarterback and reigning Pac-12 offensive player of the year Jake Browning joined outside linebacker Keishawn Bierria spoke about how they spent their offseasons. In particular, Browning reassured Husky fans that the minor shoulder surgical procedure on his throwing shoulder has completely healed.
“I feel good. [The surgery] feels like a long time ago, and it hasn’t held me back from anything for months now. So I’m all ready to go,” he said.
Asked what they took away from the experience of losing in the College Football Playoff to No. 1 Alabama, Bierria didn’t mince words in communicating that the loss still does not sit well with him.
“I went through every play, seeing the things I could have done better,” said Bierria. “It came down to a few plays, a few missed tackles ... If we played them the next day, it maybe would have been a different outcome.”
For his part, Browning spoke highly of new wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator Matt Lubick, who joined Chris Petersen’s staff in February.
“He bring a lot of cool ideas from Oregon, obviously where they’ve been really successful on offense for the last decade,” said Browning. “He’s got a lot of film of [Marcus] Mariota doing different plays, which is something I’m interested in watching.”
For more on Pac-12 Media Days, check out our live thread here, and be sure to tune in tomorrow when representatives of Oregon, Arizona State, Stanford, Washington State, USC and Utah take the stage.
Finally, don’t ever forget that University of Arizona defensive lineman Luca Bruno mistook Cal head coach Justin Wilcox for a player.