Chris Petersen: "You looked at them and said 'Whoa'"

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday January 05, 2017


Football comes down to players making plays, and Chris Petersen saw that up close against Alabama.

Petersen joined Brock & Salk on Thursday and reflected on the 24-7 loss to the Tide in the Peach Bowl semi-final. Specifically, he was asked about two Bo Scarborough runs in the second half that put the game away.

The first was 3rd-and-9, with Alabama at its own 3-yard line. Scarborough took a handoff and went 12 yards.

“It's hard to know their thinking. We were backed up and they ran it," Petersen said. "I kind of felt like it was a bit of a throwaway down where (they thought), ‘If we can hit something, great, but we’re not going to turn this ball over and we’ll punt it out.' They creased us on that counter play. That was my take on that. The guy is big, fast, strong.”

Three plays later, Scarborough broke several tackles and went 68 yards for a touchdown to make it 24-7. The Huskies were there to make the play. They just couldn’t. Scarborough finished with 180 yards on 19 carries.

“We hit him two yards deep in the backfield. Two guys,” Petersen said. “Of course, we’re looking at it going, ‘That’s poor tackling.’ Then three other guys missed him downfield and we’re saying the same thing. ‘Are you kidding me? What’s wrong with us?’

“But you have to give credit where credit it due. The guy is a heck of a player. On their side, they’re going, ‘Yep, that’s recruiting. That’s why we got that guy, to make plays like this.’ It’s always two sides. It’s just what side your perspective is.”

That difference in physical ability is always apparent with Alabama. Petersen could tell just by looking at the guys. Alabama has signed six straight No. 1 recruiting classes. At Washington, Petersen’s classes have ranked No. 37, No. 27 and No. 29.

How do you physically match up with Alabama? It’s hard to match the Jimmys and the Joes. Washington finished with 194 total yards and three turnovers.

“It’s hard. We’re always trying to get the very best we can get,” Petersen said. “Those guys on defense were thick. You looked and them and you're like, ‘Whoa.’ They are thick and big, and the most impressive thing is how fast they are. They’ve got it. They probably have the best personnel in all of college football. Yeah, that’s the standard and that’s what you’d like to get.

“We’re already on that mission trying to do that. The thing a little unique about Alabama, on that defense, there were a lot of seniors and redshirt seniors who are going to be top draft picks. That surprised me a little bit. At Alabama, they’re getting all the best recruits and they stay for three years and are gone. They had some good experience, guys that could have left early and didn’t. That’s what you saw. They had a few young guys on defense, but that was an experienced senior defense, and it takes time to create that stuff.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.