Washington looks to end 2-game slide vs. Colorado
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) Washington coach Chris Petersen doesn’t lose often, let alone two in a row.
So this is strange territory as he endures his first slide since 2007, when he was coaching perennial power Boise State.
But Petersen’s message remains steadfast to the Huskies (5-3, 1-3 Pac-12): Ignore the ”outside noise.” Tune out what’s being written on social media sites. Concentrate solely on Saturday’s game at Colorado (2-6, 0-5) – a team on a four-game skid, including two losses in double-overtime.
”The important thing is to stay strong and stay positive and not let all the outside noise rattle any of our players,” Petersen said. ”I’m really good at that, because I don’t pay attention to anything on the social media. If I did, I’d probably quit right now.”
It’s not like his team has lost to a couple of nobodies. They fell to No. 5 Oregon, 45-20, in Eugene and at home against No. 15 Arizona State, 24-10, last weekend in windy and rainy conditions.
Petersen’s focus this week wasn’t to soothe feelings so much as fix a sputtering offense. Redshirt freshman Troy Williams made his first career start against the Sun Devils as he filled in for Cyler Miles, who suffered a concussion the previous week.
Now, Miles, who’s from the Denver area, is back with the first team.
”A guy’s not going to lose his starting job because he gets an injury,” Petersen said.
Especially given the season Miles is having, throwing 10 TD passes and just one interception. He’s also rushed for another three scores.
”They’ve kind of been beat up a little bit at quarterback, which is throwing them off kilter,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said.
MacIntyre’s concerned about his own team’s psyche. The Buffaloes dropped another heartbreaker on Saturday, falling in double overtime to No. 25 UCLA on Brett Hundley’s TD keeper. They also lost 59-56 to Cal in two OTs on Sept. 27.
”If you stop working on your trade or you give in at all, success will not come,” MacIntyre said. ”It’s a process not only of winning football games, I think it’s a process as far as growing in your character and growing in your work ethic and growing in your attitude. Those are the things you can control.
”Then, the success eventually happens.”
Things to consider as Washington takes on Colorado in the earliest start (11:07 a.m. MDT) at Folsom Field in seven years:
SET THOSE ALARMS: The Huskies typically practice early in the morning. That’s going to come in handy this weekend, when kickoff is around brunch time.
”We (went) from playing probably as late as we possibly could (last weekend) to probably playing as early as we possibly could,” Petersen said. ”We’re morning guys anyway. ”
SHAQ ATTACK: Where can Shaq Thompson help the Huskies out more – running back or linebacker?
”That’s the million-dollar question right there,” Petersen said.
Thompson has four TDs as a linebacker and another when he lined up in the backfield. Last week against Arizona State, he rushed for 98 yards on 21 carries.
”Wherever we need to play him, he’ll go there,” Petersen said. ”I was talking with him about it today and he’s like, `Just tell me where I need to go.”’
SACK ATTACK: Washington senior Hau’oli Kikaha leads the nation with 14 1/2 sacks this season. He also broke the school’s all-time mark for career sacks (31 1/2) last weekend.
What’s more, Kikaha is tops in the nation in tackles for loss (19 1/2).
”Their defensive front is excellent. That’s the strength of their football team,” MacIntyre said. ”They cause a lot of havoc with those guys.”
FALSE START: Against USC and UCLA, the Buffaloes have been outscored 45-0 in the first quarter. After that, the Buffs outscored both teams by a combined margin of 65-51.
Asked how his team can improve as far as finishing games, Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau said: ”I think it’s more of a starting fast (thing).”
”You want to finish the game well, but it’s also a matter of starting fast for us,” Liufau said.
SCARY MOMENT: Colorado’s leading tackler, defensive back Tedric Thompson, suffered a concussion in the first overtime against UCLA. He was carted off the field after being strapped to a back brace. MacIntyre said Thompson is doing ”really well,” but remains unlikely to play against Washington.
”He’s healthy as far as his spine and everything like that goes, which is very encouraging because it was kind of nerve-wracking,” MacIntyre said.
AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed.