Washington Huskies head coach Chris Petersen comes into Saturday in his third year with the program. He has the Huskies rolling, as they’re fresh off of three straight blowout wins over Rutgers, Idaho State and Portland State. UW has scored at least 40 points in their past six games dating back to last season, which includes their Heart of Dallas bowl victory over Southern Miss. Washington is ranked No. 9 in both the AP and Coaches’ Polls.
The past two years, Petersen led Washington to bowl berths, revamped the offense, and changed the team culture. He has done an exceptional job, highlighted in this terrific UW school newspaper feature, especially by pulling in large recruiting classes that flipped the roster. During recruiting season, Petersen is on the lookout for “Our Kind of Guy,” the same mantra Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez preaches on his own recruitment trail. A few weeks ago, Chris Petersen Enterprises, LLC filed a trademark application on the slogan that may force UA to find another recruitment tagline.
This year’s Husky team has 69 underclassmen compared to 13 seniors. This ratio may result in UW being a perennial Pac-12 North challenger. Petersen cleaned house and kicked off eight players in 2014, the last one being highly talented defensive back Marcus Peters. After the season, Petersen brought back Peters to participate in the school’s NFL Pro Day and he wound up being the No. 18 pick in the 2015 draft. Washington is young, tough, and poised to be a perennial North Division power.
The Huskies’ defense is big, strong, and stingy; something to expect with a light opening schedule. UW has only allowed three touchdowns and 30 points on the season. Sophomore defensive lineman Vita Vea is the team’s sack leader. Junior defensive back Budda Baker was the named to the 2015 All-Pac-12 first team after he amassed 49 tackles. Senior linebacker Psalm Wooching is a former rugby player who had a 41-yard fumble recovery touchdown against Arizona last year. He also moonlights as a professional fire-dancer and performs at luaus.
Punters are People Too
Junior punter Tristan Vizcaino is a thick 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds, similar to that of Arizona junior safety Jarvis McCall Jr. Vizcaino averages 38.6 yards per punt and has handled other kicking duties in his collegiate career. Washington quarterback Jake Browning, the nation’s leader in pass efficiency, did have a 32-yard punt against Idaho earlier this season.
Bow Down to Washington
The rally cry “Bow Down” is the shortened title of the Bow Down to Washington official fight song. The author, Lester J. Wilson, won $25 in a contest by the student paper in 1915. The song had a lengthy chorus with two verses with a shot at arch rival California. The song was later revised a few times over the years with multiple verses and multiple jabs at California until the present day version was finalized in 1997 with one verse, one chorus, and no mention of California hatred.
What’s in the Scrapbook?
The file on Arizona-Washington is thick with drama, headlined by the 2014 27-26 UA field goal at the gun. Other recent memorable games include the Shadow Ball, Gronk’s three touchdown performance, and the famed Leap By the Lake.
But the 2003 Arizona homecoming victory over Washington is overlooked. Arizona stunned the Huskies with a 27-22 victory that broke a 13-game home conference losing streak. The Wildcat faithful rushed the field, failed to tear down the goalposts, and celebrated Arizona’s football rise from rock bottom. However, it did take longer than expected to finally reach that 2007 bowl berth.