What Washington coach Chris Petersen said about Auburn, Game 1 loss

Auburn's Jamel Dean drags down Washington's Salvon Ahmed during the Week 1 matchup in Atlanta. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Auburn's Jamel Dean drags down Washington's Salvon Ahmed during the Week 1 matchup in Atlanta. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Auburn football team opened the season with a big victory against No. 6 Washington at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and Chris Petersen spoke with reporters after the loss.

After falling behind by as many as nine points in the first half, Petersen saw his team battle back to cut the lead to two points by halftime and later taking a one-point lead on a Peyton Henry field goal.

But No. 9 Auburn regrouped, punched in a late score and held off the Huskies, 21-16, in the final minutes for the Week 1 game. Here are some things Petersen said about Auburn and the game following the loss Saturday (via FanSided’s Michael Collins):

On Washington’s red zone offense vs. Auburn defense: “It’s a really good defense. They played like that all last year, and it’s us — you get in the red zone, you’ve got to be very detail oriented, and you’re splitting hairs down there, and against a good defense, if you don’t have your details taken care of, you’re going to end up kicking too many field goals.”

On Auburn’s red zone offense: “Auburn made some pretty good big chunk plays, and then our defense made them kick some field goals. We’re close, but that doesn’t count in a game like this.”

On missing opportunities twice against SEC teams in Atlanta (Auburn and Alabama in 2016 playoffs): “Yeah, we’ve got to got better, no question. This one felt a lot different than last time we were down here just because there was a lot of first-game mistakes. We had protection busts, and we don’t snap the ball correctly at the end of the game at crunch time and a lot of those type of things that will get worked out, but it’s frustrating when you go into a game like this knowing it’s going to come down to a bunch of details. You can talk about it all you want, you’ve got to keep practicing and going to the fire a little bit to get better at it.”

On how people will view the program/Pac-12 after the loss: “I don’t really know, and I really don’t care. I just really don’t. I mean, I don’t know how to say it any different. I mean, it was Game 1 against a good opponent, coming across the country, hostile territory, kids battled hard, we’ll just see where our team goes from here. It’s a long season. Had we won, I’d feel exactly the same, exactly the same. Kids stepped up, played a top team in the country, proud of them, and it’s a long season from here on out.”

Next. Stock report: Spotlight on Auburn individual performances. dark

Fly War Eagle analysis: Certainly Petersen was frustrated with the outcome. What coach wouldn’t be after falling by five points to the No. 9 team in the country?

But there was a lot to be pleased with from the Washington coach’s perspective. The Huskies’ defense kept Auburn frustrated in the red zone with the exception of the fourth quarter touchdown drive. That’s something to hang their hat on and build off.

Petersen will be asked plenty (and he already has) about what this means for the Pac-12 in the grand scheme of the College Football Playoff and the simple answer is: nothing.

Washington could run the table the rest of the way, win the Pac-12 Championship Game and be one of the four teams selected to the playoff. Or, the Huskies could run the table, win the Pac-12 title and not make it. There’s so much football left to be played.

But what could go a long way for Petersen and the Huskies is if Auburn goes undefeated or loses just a single game and is in the mix for the playoffs. Of course, if it comes down to Auburn or Washington, the Tigers have the edge. But how would the selection committee remember this game three months from now?