UW vs. North Dakota appears to be a mismatch. Will any of Huskies’ true freshmen play on Saturday?

Washington head coach Chris Petersen speaks Wednesday at Pac-12 Football Media Day in Hollywood. Petersen, who played at Yuba City High and UC Davis, guides the Huskies, who are the preseason favorite to win the conference. Jae C. Hong The Associated Press
Washington head coach Chris Petersen speaks Wednesday at Pac-12 Football Media Day in Hollywood. Petersen, who played at Yuba City High and UC Davis, guides the Huskies, who are the preseason favorite to win the conference. Jae C. Hong The Associated Press

No true freshmen saw the field in Washington’s opener against Auburn. That could change this season, maybe even on Saturday against North Dakota.

But head coach Chris Petersen isn’t committing to anything just yet.

“Every game, it’s different,” Petersen said Thursday. “Each coach is kind of figuring out the strategy with the guys that they have that could get on the field this year, whether it’s going to be at the end of the year, right now or not for a while.”

The Huskies can’t make a blanket policy, Petersen said, and the amount of true freshmen he believes will play keeps changing. UW had the No. 16 recruiting class in the country in 2018, according to 247Sports.com.

Petersen thought several players would see time against Auburn, but the coaching staff reconsidered heading into the eventual loss.

“One or two of those guys have readjusted their thinking,” Petersen said. “It’s got to be a two-way street. These kids have to want to play. They see the bright lights come on and they’re like, ‘Whoa, maybe it’s not quite time.’ Guys have to feel like they want to do this and we kind of go from there.”

In June, the NCAA announced a rule change that allowed college football players to participate in up to four games without using a season of eligibility.

That can take some of the pressure out of the decision making process, Petersen said, particularly late in the year.

“Those are the games that have always been hard on us,” he said, “when you’re deep into the season and the kid hasn’t played at all. What are you going to do? Now, you’re going to have a buffer.”

Whether or not any true freshmen play against North Dakota, Petersen is interested in seeing how his team rebounds from its season-opening loss. While the game appears mismatched, Petersen said the Fighting Hawks will present some unique challenges.

“They use a fullback,” Petersen said. “They use multiple tight ends. They have three big wide receivers. I can’t wait to see our guys line up against this.

“The second thing is on defense. A lot of different stuff. Auburn lined up and you know where they were going to be. This is a different strategy.”

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