<
>

Five things to watch: Washington at Boise State

20h
Washington's Chris Petersen is facing uncertainty at QB heading into Friday night's opener. Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Washington travels to Albertsons Stadium Friday at 7:15 p.m. PT to face No. 23 Boise State. Apparently there is some sort of history between the coaching staffs?

1. The return of Coach Pete

OK, let’s just get this out of the way. Yes, Chris Petersen is back in Boise State -- where he was a two-time national coach of the year and compiled a 92-12 record. Yes, he’s answered questions about it pretty much since he took the Washington job. Both he and Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin -- a former GA under Petersen who was eventually elevated to offensive coordinator -- acknowledge there is some level of significance to Petersen’s return. It’s an interesting storyline, but not nearly as significant as the next one ...

2. How many Statue of Liberty plays will we see?

The Statue of Liberty has become as synonymous with Boise State as its blue turf. This was, of course, made famous by Petersen and Harsin against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. For a refresher, you can watch this YouTube video with Harsin breaking it all down. (Seriously, if that doesn't get you excited for football season, consult a physician). Boise ran it again last year against Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl with similar success. When asked how many there would be when the two coaches got together, Harsin (after a hearty five-second laugh) told ESPN.com, “We’ll see who runs it first and then see if the other guy responds.”

3. QB question mark

Now, on to some real football. Petersen hasn’t announced his starting quarterback yet because, presumably, we’ll see multiple quarterbacks from the Huskies. Petersen said earlier in the week that he has “a plan” and that he didn’t want to reveal his strategy. That’s fair. Question is whether we’ll see Jeff Lindquist -- the only one with game experience -- redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels or true freshman Jake Browning. Perhaps a combination of all three? Worth noting, too, that Boise State is going with a new quarterback in Ryan Finley.

4. The Washington factor

Not the team, the player. Running back Dwayne Washington finished last season on a very strong note, posting 100-yard games with five touchdowns over the final three regular-season contests. With question marks at the quarterback spot, the best thing the Huskies can do to relieve the strain of inexperience is have a productive running game. With youth on the offensive line, that might not be so easy. Washington was 4-2 last year when it had a 100-yard rusher, so establishing a run game will be critical. Most likely, we'll see some sort of committee action. But if Washington (the player, not the team) can pick up where he left off last season, that's going to go a long way toward helping the Huskies get settled in.

5. About that defense

Replacing key defensive starters has been as much of a storyline as Petersen’s return to Boise and the quarterback situation. Three first-round draft picks and a second-rounder are off last year’s team, which allowed just 24.8 points per game and tallied 52 sacks. Elijah Qualls takes over for Danny Shelton in the middle of the defensive line and veteran Travis Feeney, who started nine games last year, looks to make more of an impact as an edge-rusher. There are some veterans in the secondary, but Feeney is the lone starter coming back from the front seven last season. (Bonus topic: How many positions will Budda Baker play?)