By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE – Chris Petersen has brought familiar faces onto his new staff for his debut season with the Huskies.
Petersen announced Monday that Pete Kwiatkowski is his defensive coordinator for 2014 at Washington, Jonathan Smith is his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Chris Strausser is his associate head coach and offensive line coach, Bob Gregory is his assistant head coach and linebackers coach, Jimmy Lake is the defensive backs coach, Jeff Choate will serve as defensive line and special teams coach, Brent Pease is the wide receivers coach and Keith Bhonapha is his running backs coach and recruiting coordinator.
All worked with Petersen for all or some parts of his tenure leading Boise State to a 92-12 record. That was from 2006 until Washington hired him Dec. 6 to replace the departed Steve Sarkisian.
Petersen has also brought Tim Socha from Boise State to be the new strength and conditioning coach at UW. Tacoma native Rich Rasmussen is the Huskies’ new director of player personnel and Mike McHugh is the director of football operations.
“I’m thrilled to welcome this talented group of coaches to Washington,” Petersen said Monday. “They bring with them both a wealth of experience, and an understanding of what we want to accomplish here and how to get it done.”
Damon Huard will remain chief administrative officer for the football program. Petersen expects to fill the tight ends coach opening, the lone vacancy on his staff, in the coming days.
“As excited as we are to have hired Coach Petersen, we are equally enthusiastic about the championship-caliber staff he is bringing with him,” Washington Director of Athletics Scott Woodward said. “He and his assistants are proven winners on the field and have produced men of great character.
“We welcome them all to Husky football and can’t wait to get the new era started, to continue our momentum from the 2013 season.”
Kwiatkowski, a 1990 Boise State graduate, just finished his fourth season as Petersen’s defensive coordinator after being promoted from the Broncos’ defensive line coach before the 2010 season. He recently used a base 3-4 defense with the Broncos, three down linemen with four linebackers, with creative blitzing and variations against the run and pass.
The inductee to the Boise State Athletic Hall of Fame spent 16 seasons overall seasons as a member of the Boise State coaching staff. His more recent stint with the Broncos began in 2006.
From 2006 until the start of the 2013 season, Kwiatkowski’s unit was tops in its conference in total defense and scoring defense while being among one of the better playmaking units in the nation. Kwiatkowski’s Broncos were one of only seven teams to finish in the top 25 nationally in total defense in each of the seasons from 2010 through ’12. In that span, Boise State was one of only six teams in the country to average fewer than 300 yards allowed.
Only Alabama (10.87) and LSU (15.69) allowed fewer points per game from 2010-12 than Boise State’s 15.74.
Smith spent the past two seasons as Petersen’s quarterbacks coach at Boise State. In 2012, the former Oregon State quarterback tutored first-year starter Joe Southwick to the fifth-highest single-season completion percentage in Boise State history, .669.
Smith was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Montana in 2010 and ’11. He helped lead the Grizzlies to the Football Championship Division semifinals in 2011.
The native of Glendora in Los Angeles County, California, walked on at Oregon State in the late 1990s and ultimately became a four-year starter and two-year captain for coaches Dennis Erickson and Mike Riley. He set the Beavers’ single-game record for passing yards, 469, in 1998 against the Huskies.
Strausser just completed the seventh season of his second stint at Boise State, his second year as associate head coach. Strausser was the Broncos’ run-game coordinator in each of those seven years, and for the last four was Boise’s offensive line coach, as well.
From 2010-12, Strausser’s Broncos were one of just two offensive lines to rank in the top 10 nationally each season in sacks allowed. In those three seasons Boise State averaged just 0.67 sacks per game, second only to Air Force (.59). The Broncos threw the ball 772 more times than option-oriented Air Force in that span.
Strausser has coached in the Pac-12 before. He began coaching in the top division of college football in 1990 and ’91 as an offensive assistant at Oregon State, and also spent the 2006 season at Colorado.
The 50-year-old Gregory was Boise State’s interim head coach for last week’s Hawai’i Bowl. He was the defensive coordinator at Boise State in 2001 and the defensive coordinator at California from 2002-09. He returned to the Broncos in 2010 to coach the linebackers, the job he now has at UW.
Gregory was a finalist in 2004 for the Broyles Award given annually to the top assistant football coach in the country.
This is the fourth different time he has joined Petersen in his coaching career. Prior to the last four seasons at Boise State the two worked together at Oregon; Gregory was defensive backs coach when Petersen was the wide receivers coach for the Ducks. They then each moved to Boise in 2001 to become the offensive and defensive coordinators for former Bronco head coach Dan Hawkins.
Gregory played linebacker and defensive back for Washington State then graduated from WSU in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in English.
Choate resigned last week after one season as Florida’s linebackers coach and special-teams coordinator. The 42-year-old former player at Montana Western is known to be a tireless and effective recruiter. While with Petersen at Boise State he was productive mining the gold of high-school prospects in Texas.
That state could now become an enticing new frontier for the Huskies, who in the last five recruiting years focused on departed Sarkisian’s native Southern California.
That’s not to say the Huskies are going away from California. Bhonapha was a key recruiter in Southern California for Petersen at Boise State.
Choate’s longest coaching stint came at Boise State, six seasons as a Broncos assistant with Pease. Choate left Boise State following the 2011 season to be the linebackers coach at Washington State for one season and then to be an assistant at Florida with Pease this past season.
Pease, 49 and a native of Moscow, Idaho, was Florida’s offensive coordinator in 2013. He was the Broncos' wide receivers coach from 2006-10, and was their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2011. During his one season as Boise State’s coordinator the Broncos averaged 44 points and 481 yards per game.
Lake was the Huskies’ assistant defensive backs coach in 2004. He just finished his second season at the Broncos' defensive secondary coach and defensive pass game coordinator. The former all-Big Sky Conference safety for Eastern Washington previously coached defensive backs for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2010-11) and Detroit Lions (‘08). He was also the Buccaneers' assistant defensive backs coach in 2006-07.
Lake played for Eastern Washington when Kwiatkowski was an assistant with the Eagles. Lake graduated from EWU in 2000 and began his coaching career at Eastern as an assistant from 2000-03. He coached cornerbacks and nickel backs at Washington in 2004. That Huskies' secondary ranked first in the Pac-10 and 17th-nationally in pass defense.