Huskies hope USC win accelerates timeline with young team
SEATTLE (AP) The one item lacking during Chris Petersen's brief tenure at Washington was a signature win, when the Huskies were expected to roll over and ended up with a stunning victory.
That happened last Thursday when the Huskies won at Southern California as 16 1/2-point underdogs, accelerating the timeline of what was supposed to be a rebuilding season for Washington. And that rebuilding could be pushed into overdrive if the Huskies (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) can find a way to end an 11-game losing streak to Oregon and beat the rival Ducks this week.
''We have a real particular way of practicing and talking to these guys and so I hope it gives us, me, our coaches, everything we're doing around here, all their hard work some creditability. That this will work if you keep just sticking to the process,'' Petersen said Monday. ''No matter what your formula is when you don't have success and how everybody measures success around here is the final score, which we get how important it is. That's the one thing we don't have to talk about. They get that. But there are a lot of other little victories along the way.''
Because of how many youngsters the Huskies were going to rely on this season, there were bound to be ebbs and flows. The high of playing well at Boise State to open the season, followed by wins over Sacramento State and Utah State, was followed by the low of a home loss to California during which the Huskies committed five turnovers.
But the win over USC was a number of pieces coming together. A young offensive line that's featured nine different starters in five games helped freshman Myles Gaskin rush for 134 yards against the Trojans. The Huskies defense that gave up 30 points and almost 500 yards to California held the Trojans under 350 total yards, forced three turnovers and kept USC out of the end zone until the fourth quarter.
It wasn't a necessary win for the Huskies in the bigger picture of what Petersen is trying to accomplish long term. But the win put the rest of the season in a different perspective for the Huskies. Now, a bowl bid becomes a reasonable expectation, especially if Washington can end the decade-long dominance by Oregon.
''That's what happens when you have a young team. You can have a lot of small victories that nobody else is talking about and it's hard for them to even pay attention to, but because this is such a game of confidence, it's nice when it shows up on the scoreboard as well,'' Petersen said.
The last time Washington beat the Ducks, Petersen was still working as an offensive coordinator at Boise State and just shortly removed from being on the coaching staff at Oregon. Petersen said the Huskies will prepare to see Vernon Adams at quarterback for Oregon and are well aware of what he can do. In Petersen's first home game, Adams - then playing for Eastern Washington - threw for 475 yards and seven touchdowns against Washington.
Petersen also cautioned against underestimating the Ducks even though they've lost two of their past three games.
''This is the Oregon team that we've seen for a long time,'' Petersen said. ''They do some very good things and if our team for one second thinks this is a different Oregon program I know what'll happen. It won't be good.''