As the calendar switches to October, kickoffs for Washington Huskies games are getting later and later.
And coach Chris Petersen isn’t happy about it.
Petersen voiced his displeasure with having to start games at 7:45 p.m. the next two weeks, starting Saturday at home against California.
Because Fox Sports had the choice between the UW-Cal game and the Washington State-Oregon game, the network chose the Cougars and Ducks to fill the 5 p.m. time slot.
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That left ESPN grabbing the sixth-ranked Huskies returning home after back-to-back road victories over Colorado and Oregon State for their late broadcasting spot.
“So much of this and what we do comes down money,” Petersen said. “(Televsion) contracts are big. They tell us when to play.”
This seems to be a common bellyaching over the years among Pac-12 coaches whose teams have played a string of night games.
It hasn’t really happened much with the Huskies during Petersen’s tenure. In his first three seasons, the UW has kicked off at 4 p.m. or earlier in 20 of its 41 games.
But so far this season, the Huskies have not had a kickoff time set earlier that 5 p.m.
“We want to play at 1 o’clock,” Petersen said. “It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure. No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it.
“It is painful for our team. It’s painful for our administration. And we know certainly the most important part is (it’s painful) for our fans.”
What compounds the scorn for the late kickoffs is the fact the Huskies have traditionally held morning practices under Petersen, so it is difficult for them to simulate late starts.
“We say, ‘We eat the frog’ around here. You get the hard part of your day out of the way,” Petersen said. “I know players I’ve had who have both schedules ... really appreciate the morning schedule.”
If this scheduling trend continues in the future, would the UW consider practicing later?
“We wouldn’t change it this year, for sure,” Petersen said.
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Petersen declined to name a starting kicker for Saturday between senior Tristan Vizcaino and redshirt freshman Van Soderberg, a Capital High School graduate. Vizcaino has missed three field goals and a PAT kick in his past two games. It is a decision, he said, that will be made at the end of the week. ... Petersen said wide receiver Chico McClatcher (foot), a Federal Way High School product, had successful surgery last week after suffering a season-ending injury at Colorado. ...
The UW will hold a “Purple Out” for its home game Saturday, asking all fans to wear nothing but purple. The team will also wear all-purple tops and bottoms. ... Even though the Huskies gained 30 points in Associated Press (media) voting, they stayed at No. 6 after their 42-7 win at Oregon State. Georgia leapfrogged them to the No. 5 spot after USC fell in the rankings.
UW HUSKIES OPPONENT THIS WEEK
California Golden Bears (3-2, 0-2 in Pac-12 North)
7:45 p.m. Saturday, Husky Stadium, Seattle, ESPN, 1000-AM, 97.7-FM
Coach: Justin Wilcox (3-2 in 1st year at Cal).
Against the Bears: UW leads, 51-39-3.
Scouting report: Welcome back, Justin Wilcox. The Oregon native was the UW’s defensive coordinator for two seasons (2012-13), and is now a head coach for the first time. And after won its first three games, including wins at North Carolina, and at home against Ole Miss, followers are starting to see signs of improvement. Quarterback Ross Bowers (113 of 204, 1,357 yards, nine touchdowns) has committed 11 turnovers, including seven in the past two games. But the Bears like his confidence and mobility, and through growing pains, he should be fine for the long term. The Cal defense is tied for second in the Pac 12 with 12 forced turnovers.
WSU COUGARS OPPONENT THIS WEEK
Oregon Ducks (4-1, 1-1 in Pac-12 North)
5 p.m. Saturday, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon, Fox Sports, 710-AM
Coach: Willie Taggart (4-1 in 1st year at Oregon; 44-46 overall with previous stops at Western Kentucky and South Florida).
Against the Ducks: Oregon leads, 46-35-6.
Scouting report: This is an offense that still moves fast and scores quickly. The Ducks lead the Pac 12 in scoring (49.6 points per game) and touchdowns scored (35; seven more than second-place UW). The question coming into this matchup is who will be running the show come Saturday? Starting quarterback Justin Herbert (collarbone) was lost in the first half against Cal, and is done for the year. Backup Taylor Alie also left the game in the second half due to injury. That might leave true freshman Braxton Burmeister to lead the offense after he was initially slated to redshirt.
– Todd Milles, staff writer