Dur­ing Huskies’ bye week, Pe­tersen stresses men­tal break from foot­ball

The News Tribune - - Sports - BY LAU­REN KIRSCHMAN lkirschman@the­new­stri­bune.com

Wash­ing­ton head coach Chris Pe­tersen would’ve pre­ferred to have a bye week some­where in the mid­dle of the sched­ule. In­stead, the Huskies’ week off came with just two games left in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

It’s strange, he said, to have it so late. Then again, he doesn’t know any col­lege foot­ball coach who’s com­pletely happy with his team’s sched­ule.

“I’m glad we have it now,” he said at his press con­fer­ence on Mon­day. “I think ideally it would’ve been some­where more in the mid­dle.”

Without a game on Satur­day, the Huskies were able to take some time away from foot­ball this week. They had a few prac­tices and some re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the weight room, but the play­ers’ foot­ball sched­ule was mostly lim­ited.

Pe­tersen wanted them to get out out of the build­ing where they spend so much time. It’s im­por­tant to not think about foot­ball for a while, he said, and that men­tal as­pect is even more vi­tal than the phys­i­cal break.

That’s mostly be­cause the Huskies have al­ready cut down on prac­tice this late in the sea­son. UW doesn’t spend as much time on the field, or in full pads, and the coaches are closely mon­i­tor­ing play­ers’ reps.

“I think it’s all men­tal,” Pe­tersen said. “Cer­tainly, the grind of this sea­son has taken a toll on a lot of guys, so to get a cou­ple days to catch your breath and not think about foot­ball is re­ally healthy.”

Pe­tersen said the Huskies would also spend the week get­ting back to fun­da­men­tals. It’s all about the ba­sics: Body po­si­tion, hand po­si­tion, eyes. Ev­ery­thing that needs tuned up be­fore the sea­son’s fi­nal games.

“If you have one of those things out of place,” Pe­tersen said, “it is go­ing to be a prob­lem.”

The process starts with self-scout­ing, some­thing that’s dif­fi­cult to do dur­ing a reg­u­lar week. There’s sim­ply not enough time.

“We have a lit­tle ex­tra time here to look at our- selves and go, ‘What are we miss­ing here?’ and prac­tice is set up to go back and ham­mer out the fun­da­men­tals,” he said.

“We try to have that in ev­ery part of ev­ery prac­tice any­way, fun­da­men­tal things. That’s what in­di­vid­ual drills are all about. but we’ll spend a lit­tle bit more time em­pha­siz­ing that.”

Com­ing out of the bye week, the Huskies will be star­ing down a crit­i­cal fi­nal stretch. If it wins out, UW will win the Pac-12 North, ad­vance to the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game and have a Rose Bowl berth in its sights.

That road be­gins with the home fi­nale against Ore­gon State on Satur­day. The Huskies will then travel to Wash­ing­ton State on Nov. 23.

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