We don’t know a whole heck of a lot about Chris Petersen quite yet, but the folks who cover Boise State certainly do. So we turned to B.J. Rains, who covers the Broncos for the Idaho Press-Tribune, to fill us in on what to expect from Petersen as coach of the Huskies.
You can follow B.J. on Twitter at @BJRains. On to the questions …
1. Speaking in general terms, what is Chris Petersen’s offensive philosophy? UW fans have seen it a couple times in the past two seasons, but what should they expect to see from a Petersen offense?
“Petersen and the BoiseState coaches changed the offense this season. After using a very extensive offense with a lot of formations and plays, the Broncos simplified to a no-huddle, up-tempo attack based primarily out of the pistol formation. The coaches felt that the offense had become too hard for younger players to learn and wanted to make it easier, especially for quarterbacks, to compete for playing time earlier. The Broncos were among the national leaders in plays per game this season. Its unknown what kind of offense he will bring with him to Washington.”
2. The book on Petersen seems to be that he’s very much about doing things “the right way,” in terms of discipline and team rules and all that. Do you see that? If so, in what ways does that manifest?
“Petersen has three basic rules that he asks his players to follow: be early, make good decisions and finish everything. If players don’t follow those rules, he finds players that will. Petersen has no problem suspending players – and good players at that – if they can’t follow the rule. Star defensive end Demarcus Lawrence served three different one-game suspensions by Petersen in the past two seasons. He’s also dismissed players from the team for issues having nothing to do with the law. His teams are disciplined, focused and well prepared and I think it starts with his three rules.”
3. How would you summarize Petersen’s recruiting strategy at Boise State, and do you think it can work at Washington? Or will it have to be tweaked?
“BoiseState never got the four and five-star recruits that some of the bigger schools could get, but Petersen and the coaches were great at turning two and three-star guys into big-time players. The Broncos routinely get commitments from several players early in the summer prior to their senior years, only to see the players blow up and get several bigger offers during the season. Petersen and his coaches have a great eye for talent and could identify some players earlier than other teams. Petersen recruits high character guys that fit in with his three rules and gets more out of his players than arguably any coach in the country.”
4. It’s all relative, of course, but Boise State had its worst season under Petersen this year, finishing with an 8-4 record with a bowl game pending. What accounted for the drop-off?
“A lot of things contributed to Broncos’ 8-4 record this season and very little of it was coach Petersen. All four of the Broncos losses came on the road and against the four toughest teams they played. BoiseState didn’t really have a bad loss in the regular season to a team they should have beat. With that said, the Broncos went 6-2 in the Mountain West and both losses by a combined four points. They lost by one point at FresnoState and three points at San DiegoState in overtime after missing a kick that would have won the game on the final play of regulation. The Broncos dealt with a ton of key injuries this season, including a broken ankle to senior quarterback Joe Southwick. Petersen said this was one of the worst season’s he’s ever had in terms of key players getting injured. A combination of a lot of young guys getting their first significant playing time, injuries to some key players and a tough road schedule all equaled out to an 8-4 record.”
5. This ties into the offensive question, but what does Petersen typically look for in a quarterback?
“It depends on what kind of system he decides to run. If they stay with the up-tempo, no huddle offense out of the Pistol formation, he’s going to want a mobile quarterback that can run. Petersen’s offenses have always had a lot of quick passes and they ran plenty of wide receiver screens and short passing plays this season. An accurate quarterback is a key to his offense because the plays and throws happen very quickly. He also needs smart quarterbacks that can master an offense. Kellen Moore and Joe Southwick, his quarterbacks for six of his eight years at BoiseState, were both very smart at reading defenses and being able to make decisions at the line of scrimmage. That likely won’t change no matter what type of offense he decides to run.”