ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit on hype, pressure building around No. 5 UW
It’s easy to consider the No. 5 Washington Huskies an overnight sensation. They barely qualified for a bowl last season, and while they were favored on a national stage both against Stanford and Oregon in their last two games, nobody quite expected the Dawgs to turn those contests into the displays of utter decimation they ended up being.
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit doesn’t take that kind of view with UW, though.
“Everybody’s excited about 2016, but I always go back to the way the previous year ended,” Herbstreit told “Brock and Salk” ahead of Washington’s 70-21 blowout of the Ducks on Saturday. “Their last three games (in 2015) kinda gave us an indication of what was to come – the way they had balance, they ran the football, and I think we really started to see Jake Browning start to kinda settle in. So that’s why they had so much hype coming into this year.”
Now 6-0 and entrenched in the national title picture, the hype and pressure is building to previously unseen levels for the Husky players.
“Now they’re on everybody’s radar,” Herbstreit said, noting that it’s a yearly ritual for teams like Alabama and Clemson to be surrounded by media buzz. “When it’s new, sometimes there’s not an appreciation from an 18- to a 22-year-old kid. … You’d be surprised how that can really affect a team that’s new to that circle and how they all the sudden start to do things that are out of character.”
The Huskies have an ace in the hole, though, in the form of their coach. Chris Petersen’s teams at Boise State were often in the national championship picture, and because of their remote location and less-heralded conference, there was perhaps even more pressure on those Broncos squads. That will come in handy for UW, Herbstreit said.
“The great thing for Washington is Chris Petersen has been around that. He had to walk that fine line of perfection when he was at Boise State when they were playing in the Mountain West. It wasn’t good enough just to win all their games, they had to look good doing it, so he was used to having to really manage his teams’ emotions when it came to trying to be perfect. I think that background and that experience with Coach Pete can really help Washington and benefit them if they continue to win games.”