SEATTLE >> Chris Petersen bounced from drill to drill, taking notes as he jogged around Washington’s indoor facility wearing a purple sweatshirt and a black hat with a ‘W’ emblem.
No more blue turf. No more Broncos. Petersen finally opened his first spring practice as head coach of the Huskies on Tuesday morning.
“This is the normal part,” Petersen said after the two-hour, 15-minute practice wrapped up. “Once we get to coach the guys, once we get to do practice, once we get to play, that’s the stuff that everybody likes to do. That’s why we’re all here. Today felt really good.”
Petersen left Boise State in December to take over at Washington after Steve Sarkisian went to USC. It’s the first time Petersen has been a head coach somewhere other than at Boise State.
Asked if moving around to different drills was his nature, Petersen joked that usually he’s up in a tower, “eating snacks.”
“I take a lot of notes out there and we go and clean it up,” he said.
One of Petersen’s first tasks has been sending messages that his new team must fall in line with his requirements. That was evident on Tuesday when Petersen announced that starting middle linebacker and defensive captain John Timu would be suspended for the first two weeks of spring practice.
Petersen did not give a reason for Timu’s suspension, but he is the third prospective starter suspended in the past month. Petersen has also suspended quarterback Cyler Miles and wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow indefinitely for violating team rules.
Petersen also said running back Jesse Callier will not be with the team until some academic issues are cleared up.
Petersen’s success at Boise State was built largely on his teams being able to avoid mistakes and execute precisely. It’s a philosophy that translated into 92 wins and two Bowl Championship Series bowl victories with the Broncos and was evident on his first day on the field in Seattle.
Drills were meticulous with repetition of the smallest details. Getting the fundamentals down correctly is the focus this spring. Worrying about how it all fits into offensive and defensive schemes comes later.
“The general feel I got was a lot more focused on the tiny, tiny, tiny details instead of the big picture and focus on us individually and not just the whole big scheme,” center Mike Criste said. “I like it a lot. It’s interesting to see the difference in the coaching and I think it’s going to help us a lot in this next coming season.”
Petersen said that focus is by design so that when the opener comes on Aug. 30 at Hawaii, there isn’t confusion about what’s expected.
“We’ve got to teach the schemes, but we’ve got to get them fundamentally great and keep building on the schemes and make sure they know exactly what they’re doing assignment-wise and it’s a work in progress,” Petersen said.
The position getting the most focus during the spring will be quarterback with Miles not with the team. Miles played in eight games with one start last season and threw for 418 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another 200 yards. He was expected to take over for graduated starter Keith Price and was considered a strong fit for Petersen’s offense.
But he’s not around this spring, leaving all the reps to sophomore Jeff Lindquist and redshirt freshman Troy Williams. Offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith said the goal is for each quarterback to get an equal number of reps for most of the spring.
“It’s just the situation we’ve been put in so we’re going to do the best that we can and see what happens,” Lindquist said.