BY Art Thiel 09:45PM 10/22/2016

Thiel: Huskies deep tosses can be seen in Utah

With 115 receiving yards for John Ross in the first quarter, the Huskies flummoxed the Oregon State defense, which never recovered. The deep bombs sent a message to Utah. the foe Saturday.

WR Dante Pettis was so open on his second touchdown it was hard to get a Beavers player in the photo. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

You know by now the scripture from Saint Petersen The Chris: Thou Shalt Not Peek Ahead in Thy Schedule, For Ye Shall be Smited.

Which didn’t stop him Saturday afternoon from sending a message ahead to Salt Lake City, site of next Saturday’s game with 21st-ranked Utah. Decoded from the original Hebrew, it said: Go deep.

On the third play of game against Oregon State, third-and-nine at the Washington 30, the Huskies coach dialed up a flea-flicker. None of this flat-pass, bubble-screen, incremental fluffiness.

RB Myles Gaskin flipped a handoff back to QB Jake Browning, who chucked it nearly 60 yards to The Flash, a k a John Ross. He caught it in stride and was tackled at the OSU 19-yard line.

“Coming off a bye, sometimes it takes a minute to get going,” Petersen said. “We did it a little different than we have in the past.”

The shot of adrenaline straight into the heart of the fifth-ranked Huskies machine lasted through the first three possessions, producing a 21-0 lead en route to a predictable 41-17 thrash of the Beavers.

But it was the way they did it that likely will give pause to the 7-1 Utes, who beat UCLA 52-45 Saturday to set up the Pac-12 Conference’s game of the season so far. The Huskies struck early, going deep four times in the first quarter to Ross for 115 yards and a touchdown.

All defensive coordinators fear Ross, and adjust accordingly. Which means it’s a party for everyone else in the Washington offense. The Huskies didn’t go back to Ross again, because they didn’t need to: 219 rushing yards, let by Gaskin’s 128, ground out the remainder of the game.

Chief beneficiary of the wrinkles for Ross was fellow WR Dante Pettis, who’s the first to admit his football life is so much better with Ross in it.

“They’re afraid of his speed, as they should be,” Pettis said. “You got a guy who runs a 4.2 (seconds in the 40), he’s going to open up a lot of stuff for different people.

“I’m just listening to what the coaches are saying. Then it’s up to Jake to put the ball on us.”

A game after his career-best 134 yards, and two touchdowns on eight catches, in the Huskies’ 70-21 win at Oregon, Pettis had four catches for 112 yards and TDs of 23 and 41 yards against the Beavers.

His second TD, a season-long 41-yarder in the third quarter that put the Huskies up 38-3, was ridiculous, because it illustrated how versatile the UW offense is.

Facing a third-and-two at the OSU 41, the Huskies appeared ready to run, and the Beavers loaded up the box. Instead, Browning dropped back and spotted Pettis more alone than Donald Trump in Mexico. The Beavers are still looking for Pettis on film.

“They obviously all rushed up at 3rd-and-2, thinking it was going to be a run,” Pettis said. “No one accounted for me. Honestly, I was a little worried Jake didn’t see me. I saw him, and said, ‘Oh man! Just throw me the ball.'”

A 6-1, 188-pound junior from San Clemente, CA, Pettis has 27 catches, seven fewer than team leader Ross, but averages a team high 16.9 yards per catch. He also has a 12.3-yar average on 11 punt returns. He’s gone from role player to star.

“Dante understands what he’s trying to get done,” Petersen said. “He’s an acrobatic-type receiver, has great range. Jake is pretty accurate, but when he isn’t, Dante can make the tough catch. He’s taken the next step in his game — technique, details of routes. It’s all showing up.

And It always helps to have other guys who can make plays.”

The versatility and the willingness to go deep makes for a lively week in the receivers room before practice.

“We call them ‘auditions’ for trick plays,” Pettis said. “When (the play is discussed), it’s, ‘Oh, we having auditions for that?’ (Coach Bush Hamdan) just picks who fits for that certain play. We do try (to suck up to him), but it doesn’t work.”

The business-like dispatch of the Beavers bodes well for the Huskies and their ability to avoid trap games when they are heavy favorites.

“Coach Pete does a good job every week not downplaying an opponent,” Pettis said. “He said, ‘These guys can play some football.’ So if we stick to our stuff, we should have a good game. Don’t overlook anyone. I don’t think we’ve done that yet.”

At 7-0, they have not. But complacency will be no factor next weekend. They can set down the Book of Pete, having memorized the gospels.



  • Will

    “…Browning dropped back and spotted Pettis more alone than Donald Trump in Mexico”. Art, I sorta hate using sports references but you hit a home run with that line and it gets a 10 on the laughometer, even from the Russian judges.

    • rosetta_stoned

      Yeah. Another one-sided partisan shot when none is needed.
      What’s not to like?

      • Tian Biao

        magnifying glasses, microscopes, satellite dishes, and detectives, have all been dispatched in the direction of rosetta stoned, looking for his missing sense of humor, but alas, they have all come up empty.

    • Diamond Mask

      Well hit shot.

  • Effzee
    • 1coolguy

      Petersen is no Neuheisel…………..

      • Effzee

        Washington is no Texas….

        If they came after him, they would offer to make him the highest paid coach in college football. While every bone in me *feels* like CP would stay…. Money talks, Texas football tradition dwarfs us here, and how does a person turn down 3, 4, maybe 5 times the money they are making right now, and a chance at true mega-legend status?

        • Jamo57

          If you want to find stuff to worry about, go right ahead. I’m going to enjoy the moment. Hopefully the moment will extend for 15 years but we won’t know until it ends. But enjoy the anxiety if that’s what you’re into.

        • Diamond Mask

          I know the gal that did his home mortgages in Boise. He’s a nice guy and so is his wife. Quality of life matters to him or he would have left Boise years ago. Texas isn’t even in the running.

          • Effzee

            The more I think about it, the less worried I am.

          • Jamo57

            His name is always going to pop up, we just have to get used to it. That’s the nature of media speculation and the fact they will always write these stories each year. Hopefully UW will remain proactive in keeping his contract fair relative to market value. If they do that, the odds he finishes his career are pretty good in my opinion.

  • 1coolguy

    Art – You managed to cover Catholics and Jews in your first two paragraphs – that is not a simple accomplishment!
    A few things: I was very surprised, in retrospect, Chris called the play to Pettis, as it was very clever and one I would have kept in my secret, Al Gore lock box, for a tight game. Given the score, it was squandered and will be in every opposing coaches’ game plan.
    The one part missing is no reference to the O line, which is very positive, indicating these guys have come together, are pass blocking AND run blocking very well! Isn’t that refreshing?
    Lastly, one aspect of CP’s coaching that I appreciate, given Willingham and Sarkisian, is they do NOT play down to the competition: These guys are locked and loaded and perform at 100% from the start, making for a great fan experience but more importantly, allowing for the defense to pin their ears back and play loose with a level of abandon that is shown in their gang tackling. It’s scary to say this, but it’s tough to find any holes in this team!

  • LTrain

    You know Art, I really love most of your insight. Generally you offer a perspective that is fresh. But what is your problem with Petersen? When he did his “bunker mode”, John McGrath surprisingly joined in your effort to “expose” and denigrate that, (the result of which turned out to be overwhelmingly successful but was ignored by spnw) and now you disparagingly (with of course tongue in cheek, [I doubt]) refer to him as St Petersen the Chris. Why is it so difficult to report “good”? Why is bad so much more fun or compelling to report? All the good he accomplishes would be great stories too. Give it a try. It’s like when the state of Washington banned smoking from bars. The bars all thought they were going out of business and now they’re doing better. Change is difficult. Try reporting the team high grade point average and how they actually celebrate scholastic achievement on the team. Report the fact that St Petersen the Christ, I mean Chris, doesn’t swear at his players. OMG, a coach who doesn’t swear at a player… are you frikkin kidding me….???? How many more players did he put into the NFL at Boise State than Washington over the same period with lower “star” recruits? And what do you think he will accomplish with higher star recruits who would never sniff Boise State? Would Budda Baker ever have flipped from Oregon to Boise State in this lifetime? Maybe he really has an idea what he’s doing developing football players skills and human beings. Report that. Then you could report on the fact that he doesn’t attend functions where alcohol is involved, unlike Sark the Drunk. Oh wait…Sark was much more fun to report on wasn’t he? Yeah, St Petersen the Chris is really an incredible human being, I wish my son had played for him. Heck, I wish I had played for him. You’re better than this Art. Lead, instead of taking pot shots or being snarky.

    • Diamond Mask

      You have a small town chip on your shoulder. It’s your burden not Art’s. We love Coach Peterson. Sorry that’s not enough for you.