SPORT REPORT: Huskies send Petersen out with a win in Las Vegas Bowl
The Husky football team finished the season on a high note with a 38–7 win over top ranked Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl Dec. 21. Over the past few seasons, expectations have become sky high for the Husky football program and they ended the season with a 8–5 record, which was seen as very disappointing by some. This win will give the team momentum heading into 2020, where they will see a large number of changes including a new head coach for the first time in six years.
In one of the most shocking announcements of recent memory, Washington head coach Chris Petersen announced that he would not be returning for the 2020 season and beyond. Petersen has been the head coach for the past six seasons leading the Huskies to six straight bowl appearances and two Pac 12 conference championships. He confirmed that he would coach in the bowl game where it was later announced they would be playing Boise State — Petersen’s former team where he had one of the most successful runs in college football history.
The Huskies were in control for the first half of the game, resulting in the shot out to a 17–0 halftime lead, this lead left Boise State with the inability to recover in the second half. While quarterback Jacob Eason led the Husky offense with 210 yards and a touchdown through the air, it was the defense that stepped up holding the Broncos to 266 total yards. Junior defensive back Elijah Molden was named the game’s MVP where he accounted for nine tackles and an interception, Molden recognized how big of a play his interception was killing any momentum Boise State was gaining on the drive.
“I was just a help player, so I was reading the quarterback and it was a slow-developing play.” Molden said in his postgame interview. “I kind of read his eyes and then saw the player flare out and took it. After that play I went toward the offense and was like okay, this is your turn to go.”
It was obvious that the players had some extra motivation to send Petersen out with a win, especially against his former team. He was able to take this program to the next level of national prominence and formed a special bond with all of his players where he recognizes the importance of a bowl game victory.
“I’ve always felt so strongly that this bowl game needs to send the seniors out the right way and catapult the program forward,” said Petersen in his postgame interview. “Every time it seems like we’ve won a bowl game, good things have happened that next year. It’s the way you want to end it.”
Washington athletic director Jen Cohen spent no time looking for Petersen’s replacement as she handed the program over to Husky defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake. Lake has been on the Washington coaching staff since 2014 and was named co-defensive coordinator in 2016. Since Lake was able to maintain the entire Husky recruiting class this upcoming season as a top 15 class in the country, this move can already be seen as a success. He has also dedicated a large amount of his success to Petersen where he coached under him for most of his coaching career.
During the trophy presentation Petersen invited Lake to join him on the podium in order to raise the trophy together. When Lake was asked about Petersen he mentioned how he “changed my life, and changed my family’s life.”
It is clear that the program is in great hands with Lake at the helm but there are some questions he will need to answer in the future as we head into the off-season. With one of the biggest questions leaving fans wondering who will start as quarterback for the Huskies since starter Jacob Eason has declared for the NFL draft where he is projected to be a first round pick. It will be very interesting to see what Lake does differently and what carries over from the Petersen era.