SEATTLE — Now comes the point in the college football season when more attention is given to a hotel convention room in North Texas than an actual playing field.
Tuesday marks the release of the first College Football Playoff ranking of the season. It’s when a 13-member panel meets in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine to issue the weekly poll determining which teams are in the driver’s seats to reach the CFP semifinal. No. 11 Washington (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) isn’t behind the steering wheel but they are at the very least a passenger.
Huskies coach Chris Petersen, who guided the team to last year’s semifinal, has never been one to obsess over polls. Petersen has joked in the past about how things like statistics are “for losers” and he’d rather focus on his team.
The emphasis Monday was what UW could take from its 44-23 win over UCLA last Saturday into this Saturday’s game against Oregon (5-4, 2-4) at 7 p.m. at Husky Stadium.
UW’s approach against UCLA was overwhelmingly powered by the run. By using Lavon Coleman and Myles Gaskin, the Huskies ripped apart what was already the worst rushing defense in the nation for even more yards.
Coleman ran for 94 yards and three touchdowns while Gaskin shredded UCLA for 169 yards and a touchdown with the Huskies running 58 times for 333 yards and five total touchdowns.
“I think when you run the ball that much, you’re going to see it all,” Petersen said. “The O-line did a good job keeping guys covered like we said after the game and the backs were running hard and breaking some tackles. It was good to see those guys go.”
Since Petersen took over the program in 2014, the Huskies have used a balanced attack. It’s an offense that slightly leans more toward passing but the running game does receive attention.
Petersen said its too early to determine how much the Huskies would load up on running the ball.
“We just kind of gameplan every week and go from there and see what we can do,” Petersen said.
Petersen and the Huskies are in an interesting position going into November.
They possess one of the nation’s best defenses and a potentially prolific two-headed rushing attack. UW also has a quarterback in junior Jake Browning, who is comfortable operating as either a passer, runner or game manager.
And at least in the interim, they’ve provided answers to things that were questions a week ago.
Cornerbacks Myles Bryant and Austin Joyner each showed they were comfortable and capable of handling the demands of facing a top quarterback like Josh Rosen.
Plus, the Huskies found a solution to replacing star left tackle Trey Adams. They alternated between senior Andrew Kirkland and redshirt freshman Luke Wattenberg.
Petersen said they’ll continue to rotate both players at left tackle and they could both be used at other positions across the line.
“I think we’re still trying to get our best guys out there and both of them compete to win,” Petersen said. “It’s all about building depth and getting guys more reps.”
Should Petersen’s plans fall into place, it could make the Huskies a late contender for a spot in the CFP.
UW would need to win its remaining games against Oregon, Stanford, Utah and Washington State. The Huskies would also have to win the Pac-12 championship game.
And they would need some assistance by seeing the teams ahead of them pick up losses.
That said, the Huskies still have to worry about the rival Ducks.
“I think they’re doing a nice job,” Petersen said of the Ducks defense, which is ranked 48th in the nation. “One thing that jumps out to me about that whole team is they really play hard.”
Bryant out a while
Petersen also said Monday the team will be without freshman tight end Hunter Bryant for a “significant period of time.”
Bryant sustained a leg injury after catching a 17-yard pass against the Bruins. The former four-star prospect was second on the team with 22 receptions for 331 yards through eight games.
He joins junior left tackle Trey Adams and junior receiver Chico McClatcher to suffer either major or season-ending injuries.
Te’o-Nesheim dies at 30
Former UW star linebacker Daniel Te’o-Nesheim died Monday in Hawaii at age 30.
The details around his death are scarce and not much has been made public. He led the Huskies in sacks in 2007 and is second all-time in sacks with 30.
He played four seasons in the NFL with Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In May, he was named the head football coach of his alma mater, the Hawaii Preparatory Academy.