Ready or not, Pac-12 play arrives for Washington
SEATTLE (AP) When the non-conference part of Washington's schedule wrapped up over the weekend, head coach Chris Petersen was left wondering whether the Huskies were ready for Pac-12 Conference play to start.
After a couple of days to ponder the first four weeks of the season, Petersen is still just as uncertain as the Huskies (4-0) prepare to host No. 16 Stanford on Saturday.
''I don't know if we're ready for it or not, but we've got four games, some good experience and this whole thing is a work in progress and I really mean that,'' Petersen said. ''This is going to be a completely new challenge to us that we haven't seen in the first four games and we're well aware of that. We have to step our game up. We have to play at a level we haven't played at yet to compete with these guys.
''Hopefully, those first four games helped us somehow, someway.''
If Petersen learned anything during the first month of his tenure at Washington, it's that his team has the ability to be wildly inconsistent. From the offensive struggles against Hawaii to the defensive struggles against FCS power Eastern Washington to last weekend's miserable first half versus Georgia State, there's been little stability.
That was to be expected with Petersen and a new staff taking over. But it's also led to an inability to determine just where the Huskies stand.
Are they more like the team that completely dominated Illinois? Or are they akin to the team that escaped Eastern Washington's upset bid? Facing a Top 25 program like Stanford will be a strong indication of where Petersen's team is at the start of Pac-12 play.
''It feels like it's been a month,'' Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton said. ''I'm ready to get into this conference and represent Washington.''
Saturday's win over lowly Georgia State seemed like a microcosm of Washington's non-conference schedule. The Huskies slept through the first half and trailed the Panthers 14-0 at halftime before scoring 45 second-half points and finishing off a victory that looked far better on the scoreboard than in reality.
Washington left the field to boos at halftime and Petersen seemed to understand the frustration.
''I would have been booing us too,'' Petersen said. ''I was booing myself. I was just going, `it is bad.' You feel bad for the kids because they are kids and they are trying even though it doesn't go how we want it to go sometimes, but I know the effect it has on those guys. But we need to do our job and play better.''
Washington lost some of its depth at running back when senior Jesse Callier suffered an Achilles injury against Georgia State and was lost for the season, Petersen said. It's the second season-ending injury in Callier's career after he tore knee ligaments in the 2012 season-opener. Washington still has plenty of depth with Dwayne Washington, Lavon Coleman and Deontae Cooper at running back but another injury could affect that.
Petersen is also uncertain about the status of speedy wide receiver John Ross for Saturday. Ross sat out against Georgia State with a leg injury suffered against Illinois. Petersen said Ross took part in practice on Monday and ''seemed OK,'' but wouldn't go so far as to say he is ready for Saturday's game.