University of Washington

Huskies not focused on first College Football Playoff ranking

UW’s Dante Pettis, left, returns a punt 58 yards for the winning touchdown against Utah last weekend. Asked about his unbeaten team’s No. 5 CFP ranking, Pettis said: “If we handle our business and keep getting wins, that’s all we can do.”
UW’s Dante Pettis, left, returns a punt 58 yards for the winning touchdown against Utah last weekend. Asked about his unbeaten team’s No. 5 CFP ranking, Pettis said: “If we handle our business and keep getting wins, that’s all we can do.” The Associated Press

Dante Pettis needed a reminder as he discussed Washington’s placement at No. 5 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, a development that surprised many and outraged some.

“I was just like, ‘Oh, OK,” UW’s junior receiver said before asking: “Who jumped us?”

It was Texas A&M, he was told.

“Yeah,” Pettis said. “I didn’t know they were that close to us in the rankings or whatever. I don’t really pay much attention to that at all. I don’t know who is where. I was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know they were having that good of a season.’ I was a little shocked, (but) I can’t really pay that much attention to it.”

That, unsurprisingly, is the general theme from other UW players and coaches when asked about the initial CFP rankings. While analysts and fans stew over the inclusion of one-loss Texas A&M in the top four ahead of unbeaten Washington — a decision made by the CFP committee based on the Aggies’ tougher schedule — the Huskies don’t seem to care all that much, at least outwardly.

Junior linebacker Keishawn Bierria said Tuesday morning that he didn’t even plan to watch the CFP announcement show on ESPN. Huskies offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith said Wednesday that “I wasn’t even aware of it. These guys, talking to a few of them, weren’t really aware of it.”

Surely, UW’s players discuss their playoff chances behind closed doors, at least among themselves. Bierria said as much Tuesday. But they say their focus remains on Saturday’s game at California.

“Honestly, right now, there’s what, five more weeks?” Pettis said. “And the rankings at the end of the season are what matter. If we handle our business and keep getting wins, that’s all we can do. We can’t really worry about what they (the committee members) think.”

BROWNING CAN PUNT

Jake Browning used his leg, not his arm, to make an important play in Washington’s 31-24 victory at Utah last weekend.

UW’s sophomore quarterback booted a 40-yard pooch punt that was downed at Utah’s 1-yard line with 5:09 remaining. The Utes followed by going three-and-out, and Pettis returned the ensuing punt — kicked from the back of Utah’s end zone — 58 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

Browning has punted twice this year, and he did it six times last year. UW coach Chris Petersen likes to keep his offense on the field sometimes in fourth-down situations in an opponent’s territory, then have Browning take a few steps back and punt with no returner deep to field the ball.

Browning said he did it during his career at Folsom High, too, though he threw so many touchdown passes (229 in three seasons) and his team was so good that his punting services were not often needed.

“You don’t really have to have perfect form or anything,” Browning said, noting that it’s much easier to punt when there is no threat of a return. “You’ve just got to get it over the safeties and let it roll. We work on it weekly, though.”

Christian Caple: 253-597-8437, @ChristianCaple

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