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Washington Huskies

Chris Petersen stresses mental break during bye week

Washington head coach Chris Petersen would’ve preferred to have a bye week somewhere in the middle of the schedule. Instead, the Huskies’ week off came with just two games left in the regular season.

It’s strange, he said, to have it so late. Then again, he doesn’t know any college football coach who’s completely happy with his team’s schedule.

“I’m glad we have it now,” he said at his press conference on Monday. “I think ideally it would’ve been somewhere more in the middle.”

Without a game on Saturday, the Huskies were able to take some time away from football this week. They had a few practices and some responsibilities in the weight room, but the players’ football schedule was mostly limited.

Petersen wanted them to get out out of the building where they spend so much time. It’s important to not think about football for a while, he said, and that mental aspect is even more vital than the physical break.

That’s mostly because the Huskies have already cut down on practice this late in the season. UW doesn’t spend as much time on the field, or in full pads, and the coaches are closely monitoring players’ reps.

“I think it’s all mental,” Petersen said. “Certainly, the grind of this season has taken a toll on a lot of guys, so to get a couple days to catch your breath and not think about football is really healthy.”

Petersen said the Huskies would also spend the week getting back to fundamentals. It’s all about the basics: Body position, hand position, eyes. Everything that needs tuned up before the season’s final games.

“If you have one of those things out of place,” Petersen said, “it is going to be a problem.”

The process starts with self-scouting, something that’s difficult to do during a regular week. There’s simply not enough time.

“We have a little extra time here to look at ourselves and go, ‘What are we missing here?’ and practice is set up to go back and hammer out the fundamentals,” he said.

“We try to have that in every part of every practice anyway, fundamental things. That’s what individual drills are all about. but we’ll spend a little bit more time emphasizing that.”

Coming out of the bye week, the Huskies will be staring down a critical final stretch. If it wins out, UW will win the Pac-12 North, advance to the conference championship game and have a Rose Bowl berth in its sights.

That road begins with the home finale against Oregon State on Saturday. The Huskies will then travel to Washington State on Nov. 23.

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