SEATTLE – By this point, the best way for Washington coach Chris Petersen to deal with the task of facing Alabama in the national semifinals is through self-deprecation.
The more Washington’s coach watches film of the Crimson Tide, the more he realizes the gargantuan task awaiting the Huskies.
“You know, probably the best college team I’ve seen. So what can you do but keep humor about it?” Petersen said Tuesday as Washington officially accepted its invitation to the Peach Bowl and a date with top-ranked Alabama. “I mean, these are some – top to bottom, there’s no weaknesses out there.”
Petersen and his staff are still in the beginning stages of putting together their game plan for the fourth-ranked Huskies’ matchup with Alabama on Dec. 31 in Atlanta. Washington’s coaches spent time last week recruiting, making up for time lost by the Huskies while playing in the Pac-12 championship game. And with final exams going on, the Huskies have limited their practices, only holding a few in Seattle prior to the team departing for Atlanta on Christmas Day.
Without players around much, it’s allowed Petersen time to analyze Alabama. And everywhere he looks, he sees challenges.
“There’s no players, like, `Well, he’s a freshman.’ If he’s a freshman, he’s a freshman All-American (and) a whatever-star recruit,” Petersen said. “They’re good. They’re coached well. And the thing that I’m as impressed with (as) anything in that program is how they recruit. They get great talent and then he does a great job with the culture of their program, playing hard and all those things.”
While Petersen has wanted his players to focus on their final exams, some have worked in a little film study of the Crimson Tide in between their studies. In the case of standout safety Budda Baker, his study of Alabama started immediately after the Pac-12 championship game victory over Colorado.
As in the next day, before the Huskies even knew they were in the College Football Playoff.
“For me I think of the best,” Baker said late last week. “We won that game and I just felt like we were going to be playing Alabama so I started watching film right away.”
The majority of observers and casual fans believe Alabama will have its way with the Huskies. Petersen tries to block out as much noise as possible but it’s not like 10 years ago when he led decided underdog Boise State to an upset of Oklahoma. There’s too much available via social media for Petersen to completely insulate his team from the outside expectation that the Huskies are a long shot.
“We’re not trying to block it out, and I don’t think that’s realistic, just like you’re saying,” Petersen said. “So we just talk to our kids all the time about where they need to focus. They’re going to hear it. They’re going to know what everybody says, for the most part. But what do we think about, what do we pay attention to, where do we focus? How do we treat all this attention coming their way? And they’ve been great about it.”
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