Huskies set to face former coach at No. 17 USC
SEATTLE (AP) Chris Petersen was on the other end of the script when the season began, taking Washington to face his former team at Boise State.
Now it'll be the Huskies' turn to face a former coach when they travel to No. 17 USC (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) on Thursday night and a reunion with Steve Sarkisian. While the Huskies (2-2, 0-1) have an exceedingly young roster, relying heavily on freshmen and sophomores, there is still a large contingent that was recruited to Washington by Sarkisian and many of his assistants now working for the Trojans.
But from the head coach's perspective, the entire story line of a team facing a former coach is completely overblown.
''We kind of went through it ourselves on the other side and when you go out there and play it's about blocking and tackling and catching,'' Petersen said. ''That's what it is. It has nothing to do with all that other stuff. I think a lot of times there is stuff made out of it. It's pre-game hype that really doesn't have a whole heck of a lot to do once the game is played.''
Sarkisian was Washington's coach from 2009-13 before returning to Los Angeles, where he was an assistant for the Trojans before landing the head job with the Huskies. Sarkisian helped turn around a Washington program that was coming off an 0-12 season when he arrived but has now played in five straight bowl games, four of those under Sarkisian.
With all that history, you would think there would be anticipation from his former Washington players to see Sarkisian. But in the week since losing to California on Sept. 26 to open Pac-12 Conference play, the few Huskies players made available deflected talk about Sarkisian.
Petersen said the only thing he took from being on the other end of a similar experience in the opener at Boise State was how focused the Broncos were on the game and not the surrounding circumstances.
''I think the Boise State guys played pretty darn good. I thought they were pretty focused in and played hard and that's what I hope our guys do,'' Petersen said. ''Just be really focused on the game and play hard. It's all about the game, all about the players on the field and rest is kind of overdone.''
The trip to Los Angeles will be just the second road start for freshman quarterback Jake Browning. His first came in the season opener at Boise State when he threw for just 150 yards in a 16-13 loss. Since then there have been a few highs, like throwing for a Washington freshman record 368 yards and three TDs against Utah State. And some lows, like the two interceptions he threw in the loss to Cal.
Inconsistency is to be expected with a young quarterback, but Petersen believes Browning is better equipped to handle this road challenge than his first.
''I think there's certain things that he's pretty dialed in - certain plays, certain concepts that we run that he's probably more dialed into, feels good with,'' Petersen said. ''But as we go through this, we keep adding kind of more to his plate, so that's a process of this whole year.''