Petersen returns to Boise as Huskies face No. 23 Broncos
BOISE, Idaho (AP) When Boise State lined up the home game with Washington the thinking was it would be the most anticipated nonconference matchup in school history.
It’s here, but with a twist: Chris Petersen, the Boise State coach then, is the Washington coach now. And it’s Petersen who will lead his Huskies against the 23rd-ranked Broncos on Friday night in the season opener.
”I think when a game is billed as the biggest game in school history, I don’t think you have to do a lot of describing,” Petersen said. ”I think using those words just take care of it.”
Petersen trotting onto the blue turf clad in purple adorned with a ”W” will be unfamiliar and uncomfortable for fans, Boise State players and Huskies coaches who walked the Broncos just two seasons ago.
No one, though, is looking forward to the end of the game more than Petersen.
”I don’t want to wish this whole thing away. We only get so many games and the opening game is always an exciting game for everybody involved,” Petersen said. ”I’m trying to look at it in a real positive way. Playing a really good team and going to a great environment in college football. Those are all good things, so let’s go enjoy this thing.”
Coming off a Fiesta Bowl win Boise State returns 17 starters. The Broncos are deep and talented on both sides of the line and reaping the reward from Petersen’s final season at Boise State – when he played a lot of underclassmen that are now juniors and seniors. Boise State has three freshmen listed on its three-deep depth chart; Washington has 11.
Says Boise State coach Bryan Harsin of the matchup: ”Our players are preparing to go play. All this stuff really has nothing to do with that. That’s really coaches and staffs and this game is not about the staffs. It’s about the players.”
A few more things to watch:
UNDER CENTER: Petersen added an element of secrecy to his return by choosing not to announce who Washington’s starting quarterback would be. That has led to speculation freshman Jake Browning will take the first snap, although Petersen indicated two or possibly three QBs could play.
Browning set national prep records during his career at Folsom High outside Sacramento, California, but would become the first freshman to start at QB for a Petersen-coached team. Even if Browning does start, expect to see junior Jeff Lindquist, who was used as a short-yardage running QB at times last season.
SETTLED QB: Boise State was more than willing to announce that sophomore Ryan Finley had won the starting job for the Broncos. Finley was the clear leader at the end of spring practice and beat out three others.
Finley appeared in five games last season as a freshman, completing 12 of 27 passes for 161 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
WATCH THE LINE: Washington will break in an inexperienced offensive line against a defensive front filled with experience. Kamalei Correa led the Mountain West with 12 sacks last season and will be taking on Washington left tackle Coleman Shelton and either Matt James or Kaleb McGary at right tackle. James and McGary have a combined seven college starts.
CALLING PLAYS: Elijah Drinkwitz will debut as Boise State’s offensive coordinator, the third in three years. Previous offensive coordinator Mike Sanford was wooed by Notre Dame, leaving Harsin to find a replacement in his second season. Drinkwitz was the tight ends coach last season for the Broncos and the co-offensive coordinator under Harsin at Arkansas State.
AP college football website: http://collegefootball.ap.org/