Chris Petersen knows the tenor that's needed after a close loss thanks to all the excruciating defeats Boise State has experienced during his tenure.
Blowouts? That's a different story.
Keith Price threw a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes to become the school's career leader, and Washington returned to renovated Husky Stadium with a stunning 38-6 rout of No. 19 Boise State on Saturday night.
"It's a good football team we just played, without question," Petersen said. "But I know that we can play better than we did. I know we've got to get a lot better and we will."
Petersen's worst loss as Boise State coach was just as ugly as the final score indicated. The Broncos failed to finish drives on offense and simply could not stop Washington on defense.
Boise State's 24-10 defeat at Washington in 2007 had been Petersen's worst setback before Saturday night. The Broncos fell to 26-4 under Petersen when given at least 10 days of preparation, and it was the first time since a 58-0 loss against Washington State in 1997 that the Broncos failed to score a touchdown.
The 32-point margin was Boise State's worst loss since a 48-13 drubbing at Georgia to open the 2005 season.
"We're going right back to work. That's what we're going to do. We've got to get better. We've got to improve," Petersen said. "There's some things out there — I know we'll put that tape on and look at it and say, 'Wow, we've got to do a lot better than this.'"
It was a rematch of last December's Las Vegas Bowl, when Price was intercepted on Washington's final drive and Boise State held on for a 28-26 victory. The Huskies had eight months to simmer about the late loss that left them with a 7-6 record for the third straight season. Coupled with the Huskies playing in their palatial new $280 million home for the first time in nearly two calendar years, the Broncos were already facing a difficult task.
But Boise State was left gassed defensively trying to keep up with Washington's new fast-break offense. Price completed 23 of 31 passes for 324 yards. He found Kasen Williams on a 19-yard TD on Washington's first possession of the second half and his 18-yard strike to Josh Perkins gave Washington a 24-6 lead late in the third quarter. It was Price's 56th career touchdown toss, passing Cody Pickett as Washington's all-time leader.
"He played like a point guard tonight, which, in this system, you need to play like," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. "I thought he distributed the ball really well."
Boise State's revamped offense couldn't connect for big plays and stalled frequently in Washington territory. The Broncos defense looked overmatched.
Washington's up-tempo attack fatigued the Boise State defense as the Broncos were unable to get off the field in key situations. The Huskies pounded the Broncos for 268 yards rushing on 54 carries. Bishop Sankey ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
"I think everyone got tired," Peterson said. "They've got some big guys that kept us covered up. Those backs are good. Sankey can break tackles and he's fast and gets a crease — that can be a problem."
Joe Southwick finished 25 of 40 but for only 152 yards as the Broncos' passing game was surprisingly conservative with very few shots downfield and zero trickery. Boise State's longest play was an 18-yard run and its longest pass went for only 16 yards. Jay Ajayi rushed for 93 yards on 23 carries, but the numbers were minuscule compared to Washington's production.
"That's not going to cut it," Peterson said.
Despite being outgained 313-165 in total yards during the first half, Boise State trailed by just a touchdown at the break.
The Broncos put together two solid drives to start the second half only to get three points. The Broncos stalled at the Washington 3 after Southwick's pass was broken up by Marcus Peters, who blocked a field goal attempt in the first half. Dan Goodale's 20-yard field goal pulled the Broncos to 10-6.
That's when Washington broke loose with quick scores. Price hit Williams to put the Huskies up by 11 and followed on the next drive by scrambling to find Perkins running across the back of the end zone for a two-touchdown lead.
Sankey, who scored on a 1-yard plunge in the first quarter, added a 23-yard TD scamper with 10:45 left to give Washington a 31-6 lead. Dwayne Washington capped the blowout with an 8-yard TD run with 5:56 left.
"We are going to look at it the same as any loss: Our coaches are going to get behind us and help get the attitude that we need to have," Boise State linebacker Corey Bell said. "I mean, this hurts, but we're going to come out next week fighting just like we always do and that's kind of the attitude we have."