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Chris Petersen, in his first Pac-12 media days, spoke for 40 minutes on the main stage Thursday. The full transcript of that is below, courtsey of the Pac-12 and ASAP sports.
Petersen also met with a few other reporters for about 25 minutes more, and I’ll post highlights from that later.
COACH PETERSEN: Really good to be here. Appreciate everybody being here. I thought you guys might be worn out by this time. I’d like to introduce two of our players that we have here. I think these guys are special guys not only because of the type of players they are, but the type of people they are. With the transition, transitions are hard, and I think it can be really, really hard on the old guys that have had their coaches for quite a while, and here comes some new guy trying to tell them how to do things. These guys have embraced us, and the culture we’re trying to get done. I’ve been so proud of them, and honored to coach them and really excited to watch these guys go. Our first guy is our defensive end, spectacular player. Did some great things last year as well, Hau’oli Kikaha, back corner. And our offensive tackle has played a lot of games for the Huskies and doing a great job. He’s going to have a fabulous season, Ben Riva. With that being said, fire away.
Q. Can you talk a little about the quarterback situation and Troy Williams?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, so Troy did a great job in spring. We only had two quarterbacks in spring, Troy, Jeff Lindquist, so they got a zillion reps and they threw every drill, every team rep because that’s all we had, except for me. I had to throw a few and that was not good. But he’s making good progress. I’m anxious to see what he does in the start of fall camp.
Q. Can you talk about the impact Naijiel Hale has coming in at defensive back?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, so we need some help in our secondary without question. Lost three out of four starters. So there will be some young guys that have to get in the mix and play. So I’m anxious. Best thing about media day is when it’s over you’re going to get back and started with our guys. Guys like that, have to watch them to see what they can do football wise to watch all those guys out there to see what they can do.
COACH PETERSEN: I think he’s a good player. Comes from a great program. Played a really high level of football. Made plays against good receivers. I think our defensive back coach is one of the first guys to even offer Naijiel.
Q. How far behind is he [Cyler Miles]?
COACH PETERSEN: Oh, he’s behind because he didn’t do anything with spring ball. But he’s been back for a while working out with us. He’s been doing a nice job. We’re excited to get him back in there and teach him our system. You know, we thought it was appropriate that he is going to miss the first game as well. He’s already been through a lot. To be put behind the eight-ball, and he’ll reinforce it, and missing the game. But we are moving forward from that game forward. That quarterback position is wide open. We need to get Cyler in there to compete with those guys and see what he can do.
Q. Will Cyler still get an opportunity to try and be the starting quarterback?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, absolutely. He’ll be in there competing. Trying to be the starting quarterback from game one.
Q. How has he handled being back in the program?
COACH PETERSEN: I think he’s done a good job. He’s done everything right or he wouldn’t be with us. He’s done everything right. Guys make mistakes. Certainly at that age group, we always say, hey, the age group we’re dealing with is the dumbest age group in America, and it happens to be so public. Guys make mistakes, and the important thing is we learn from it and become better people.
Q. Do you sense he’s learned from it?
COACH PETERSEN: I think he has. Time will tell. He’s done everything right since he’s been back with us.
Q. Are you satisfied with how minor his role was in the incident?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, we took I think some pretty hard action, but things were still being decided. He didn’t do anything with us football-wise. They do have a brand-new staff teaching this, taking a guy out in that position is pretty tough. We’re also going to sit in the first game.
Q. Was Damore’ea [Stringfellow] welcomed back to the team or did he decide to transfer on his own?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, Demore’ea decided to transfer.
Q. Would he have faced a stiffer suspension if he hadn’t?
COACH PETERSEN: I’m not going to get into all those things.
Q. Could you touch on the talent at quarterback in the Pac-12?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, speaking of quarterbacks, huh. It’s amazing. I’ve been paying attention to this conference for a long time. I think you had 10 of 12 returning. What really strikes me is every one of them are good players. It’s not just they’ve got a guy coming back that’s okay. They’re all good players. There’s no question. And it’s scary when you don’t have one of those returning guys and every week you’re going to have to face someone like that.
Q. Did Shaq Thompson get any reps at tailback?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, so started that a little bit in spring ball because of depth. And every time we gave Shaq the ball, he did a great job. So we’ll continue with that and see how our depth goes out there and see how Shaq progresses. We don’t want to water him down and make him less of a defensive player. So I think there is a fine balance there and we’ll continue to work through that.
Q. Is the feedback from the offseason workouts good so far?
COACH PETERSEN: I think it’s been good. You’d have to ask Ben and Hau’oli. But I think they’re making progress and they’re excited.
Q. After looking at film from the quarterbacks in the spring, what do you want to see from them in the fall?
COACH PETERSEN: I think everything, just improve. We’ve got to take the next step. I think it always comes down to decision making and accurate throwing. I would say that’s who we’re trying to recruit in there and that’s who we want our guy to hang his hat on. Oh, boy, he’s a great decision maker and has something good there. So I think those are two areas we’d like to see those guys improve on.
Q. On the defensive side you’ll see faster and more faster teams. Do you have any concern making those adjustments?
COACH PETERSEN: I don’t know if there are too many tougher jobs in America than being a defensive coordinator in college football. I’m sure there are a few, but I know that’s one that I probably wouldn’t like. It’s just there are different styles. It spreads you out. There is so much speed out there. You’re right. It’s hard. The fact that a lineman can go down the field and throw a ball, it’s really hard to play defense, and in high school, and being more skilled. It puts a lot of pressure on defense. I don’t know. You’re going to see a lot of points being scored.
Q. What’s your relationship with [Oregon coach] Mark Helfrich?
COACH PETERSEN: Never heard of him (smiles). … I like all these guys. I won’t like them game week, but these are really good people, really good coaches. Mark and I go way back. It’s not surprising he’s in the position he’s in and doing the job he’s doing. I tried to talk him out of football. I wanted him to be a doctor. I think he had that in his mind. I said don’t do it. But he wouldn’t listen.
Q. Will those conversations stop now?
COACH PETERSEN: Probably. Some of the conversations we’ve had are football related. But he’ll always be a good friend.
Q. What’s your reaction to Josh Shirley’s transfer?
COACH PETERSEN: Guys got to do what they’ve got to do. You have 105 guys and there are going to be a lot of different things like that going on. Guys got to do what they’ve got to do.
Q. With so much experience on the defensive line, it doesn’t affect depth much.COACH PETERSEN: I’m always worried about that, because it changes so fast. It only takes one injury at the position, and you thought you had pretty good depth, and now you don’t. So visit our archives at www.asapsports.com 3 14-WASH-Petersen.doc we’re always concerned with roster management. But, hey, we’ll get the next guy ready to go and move on.
Q. With you running a hurry-up no-huddle at Boise State, will you continue to do that at Washington?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, so we were no-huddle last year at Boise, so that style, we’re used to, they’re used to. We’ll do some of that. We’ll huddle up on occasion and do some different things.
Q. What did Cyler tell you about the incident? Was there anything that wasn’t presented correctly in the media?
COACH PETERSEN: I don’t know exactly what was presented in the media. I just know he made a mistake. He owned up to it. Did everything right as we moved forward. You know, he’s going to get a second chance.
Q. Did he have to sell you on that? When you heard about it, it was pretty odd. Were you pretty worked up or pretty angry?
COACH PETERSEN: I would say the fact that he didn’t have one day in spring football or one meeting probably sent a pretty strong message to him. But throughout that process and moving forward, he did everything correctly. So we’re just hoping, and I think he will be a better person, a better teammate, a better everything for it and for going through it. Guys make mistakes. The most important thing is to learn from them and do right moving forward.
Q. So he’s behind the 8-ball?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, we’ve got to figure out our quarterback situation starting with Troy and Jeff, and how Cyler factors in there, so that will be interesting. That’s part of the challenge and fun of the job. You’ve got to have a quarterback that’s playing at a high level or that whole offense will struggle.
Q. Have you ever considered playing a true freshman at quarterback, even at Boise State? If so, do you think K.J. Carta-Samuels could start?
COACH PETERSEN: We’ll see what he can do. It’s such a hard position. But we’ll give all four of those guys a shot to see what they can do. You hate to throw anybody to the wolves, certainly a young guy, but we’ll see how he does.
Q. Have you had any conversations with [former USC coach] Steve Sarkisian on personnel?
COACH PETERSEN: No, not one time. I think it’s better for the kids. Everybody has their own opinion, and everybody gets biased, so I just don’t ask the question.
Q. Can you talk about the depth on the D-line or just something that you kind of left spring feeling particularly good about?
COACH PETERSEN: No, I just kind of felt like this off-season from after spring ball to where we are now is getting really, really important for those guys in the weight room and our conditioning program is going to be really important, and I think they’ve done a really nice job with that. Now I think it’s really important this next thing with the fall camp and scheme-wise and how they practice. Kind of got the basis of how we did in the spring, and for us to take that next step everything is so critical. We can have no wasted time or days because we’re so new. Nobody else is doing the Pac-12 but us. So we’re truly behind the eight ball. Kind of one segment at a time. I think they’ve done a nice job since spring ball. Anxious to get all in here with them soon.
Q. Have you spoken to any of your coaches in in the business about transitioning to another program and growing pains that you have. You’re a first year head coach a time before. But taking over a new program and trying to make that as seamless as possible? Not being grueling and adjusting to new faces and new schemes?
COACH PETERSEN: No, you know, I think we were really confident in what our process of how we do things. So I think what the trick is to get everybody on the same page like, hey, this is how — and really trick, it’s a hard trick because everything is different. That’s not right or wrong with the whole staff. It’s just we know our way. So we do it the way that we know so we’re getting players, administrators, everybody on the same page then they’ve got to buy in and do it the right way. So it’s a double-edged sword. You have to educate everybody on this is what it looks like and this is why and get them motivated and excited about doing it this way.
Q. Is there a process that kind of works that way? Would you not have done it?
COACH PETERSEN: I didn’t go down that path.
Q. You had a Twitter ban at Boise State. Did you carry that policy over with you to Washington?
COACH PETERSEN: No, I did not. We kind of said we’ll see how this thing goes. Trying to get out of the dark ages. I know how important social media is to everybody and certainly our kids so hopefully they use it correctly and use it in a positive manner. As a way to draw attention to the program. So that’s a balance. We’re kind of working through that. There are five other things they could do. They had other things they could do, it was kind of making a little bit of a point. But still trying to meet these guys halfway.
Q. But did you tell them you have the right to revoke those privileges?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, we talked about that. Hey, okay, I’m on your terms now and let’s see how this thing goes. If somebody’s out of control with it or doesn’t do it right, we’ll have to have a conversation about that.
Q. Are there any other policies from Boise State that are hard for the players to accept?
COACH PETERSEN: I don’t think so much of that. Just everything’s different in terms of how we lift weights, certain expectations, classroom stuff, all those things. In you start putting these things together, a little adds up to a lot. Those things aren’t changed overnight. It’s a process that you’re working through.
Q. Has anyone been twisting your arm to create a Twitter profile (Petersen is the only Pac-12 coach without one)?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, a little bit, a little bit. One thing when you’re recruiting, it’s such a strong way to communicate with these guys. I don’t like Facebook at all. The only reason I do it is for recruiting. So any person I knew in the past that has to do with eligibility, I don’t talk to them on Facebook, so it will probably be the same thing with Twitter.
Q. On Budda Baker:
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, can’t wait to get out there and see what he can do playing football-wise. I know he’s been over there in our elite program, they’re doing a good job of working his tail off. Really excited about him because I think he’s a really good person. Just all about all the things that we want our program to know about in terms of working hard and being humble, and playing great football and loving his teammates and all those things.
… I think we’ll look at him at safety and see how the safety corner thing and see how that goes. He’s dynamic with the ball as well. Playing with the kick return type thing as well.
Q. I’m sure you’re a loyal guy and committed. But what makes you finally say the time is right to switch schools?
COACH PETERSEN: Loved the place I was at without question. Could have stayed there a long time and been happy. But I felt it had to do with growing and stretching myself a little bit, and the opportunity in Washington, being the special place that I thought. But it’s really hard to kind of tell you why. It’s kind of a gut feeling.
Q. The other thing is that you had a particular ability to go into areas and find players and coach them up. Did your philosophy change all about that?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, I hope we can. The one thing that needs to not change is the evaluation of one type of person as a kid. If you get that guy, you can push them and develop them. That’s what we did was develop these kids because they were all about what we were all about. Not everybody can do what we do. You guys might understand a little bit, but the average person on the outside looking in, they don’t understand how hard this thing is. It’s hard to go away and go to college and all those things, and we stress them so hard with this high level of football and academics. We are on them about everything. They’re not all about the things that you’re all about. It just doesn’t work. So that’s what our coaches did so well in Boise. They got the guys that fit us and believed in what we were all about.
Q. What happened to players who wanted to originally follow you from Boise State to UW but didn’t?
COACH PETERSEN: Wanted to stay home at the end of the day.
Q. On Keishawn Bierria:
COACH PETERSEN: Keishawn has done a really good job for us. I think he’s going to be a good player. He had a good spring, and I think he’s going to be in the mix for playing time this fall for sure. I know he’s a really good special teams player, and I know our linebacker coach really likes him.
Q. How did QB Troy Williams do in the offseason?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, he got some very good reps in spring, a lot. Only had two QBs, and he progressed every day and made strides. Just need him to make as much progress this fall in fall camp as he did in spring ball, and I think he’ll be good.
Q. On the quarterback situation:
COACH PETERSEN: We have Troy and Jeff Lindquist who were there in spring. We have a true freshman coming in in K.J. Carta-Samuels with us in the spring. So those guys will compete like heck here in a week or so.
Q. You’re not used to this big of a media crowd. How have you had to adjust?
COACH PETERSEN: The thing is there is a little irony in this whole thing. Because all of this is different, more of you than at our other media days. But being in Washington, I’m completely under the radar. I just do my deal. I don’t go anywhere where people don’t know who I am or having a conversation. I really like the people. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s really been nice. If I don’t have a W on, it’s not about another person. So that’s been an interesting, kind of refreshing change.
Q. In hindsight, it seems like this is the perfect fit. How did you assess that?
COACH PETERSEN: Just like the recruits trying to find that right fit. There might be a great player out there. I think the Washington thing, that’s where we left. I think it is a good fit. I think it fits me and I’m excited to be there.
Q. Have you been in the traffic here?
COACH PETERSEN: These freeways? No, but I’ve been in traffic in Seattle. Oh, gosh, and that’s one thing in Seattle is I’m not really far from the office so I don’t really have to deal with the traffic. But everything else is you have to plan your day out. Can’t go there. Why not? Well, it’s going to take two hours.
Q. Did you ever consider any places outside of Washington go to, like a dream job?
COACH PETERSEN: You don’t know. When I was in Boise I never had that where I said, look, that job opens up and that’s something I’m interested in. I was just always content and happy at Boise. Made the decision. So there is not another place that I would say well, that place as well. I just know there have been many of them.
Q. I do know some coaches who have said, if a job opens up at a particular school, I want that job.COACH PETERSEN: I never got that far down the road. Talking about it, from the outside — the grass isn’t always greener. Be careful what you wish for. And that’s why I was so careful at Boise. Staying at a good place. I think I’m in another really good place and excited to be here.
Q. Are there some resources you have at Washington that you didn’t have at Boise State?
COACH PETERSEN: I think there are a few more. I think rules change a little bit in terms of being able to see the kids more. All of those things that take a lot of money that not everybody can do. I think Washington will have the resources to compete with everybody else.
Q. As far as recruiting, do you have more comfortable traveling or things like that?
COACH PETERSEN: No, not really.
Q. Coach, I’m an Oregon writer, and I tend to talk to a lot of the former players, specifically Kenny. By far your name comes up a lot as a coach they respect a lot. Just wondering what it is about your coaching style?
COACH PETERSEN: I don’t know. One of the reasons that I do coach, I mean, and I always say this, this is such a hard job. It really is. There is not much easy about it so where I get satisfaction is the relationship with those players. Like Kenny with his family and in the recruiting process, to recruit good kids like that and feel connected. You might not talk to them all the time after you leave there, but you feel like you’re part of their family and those things. So that’s why I coach. It’s to be around guys like Kenny and his family, and hopefully have life long connections.
Q. Hau’oli Kikaha said sometimes when working out he imagines doing karate or judo. Does he show that in practices?
COACH PETERSEN: He always surprises me. I’m still figuring some of these guys out. I haven’t, but he’s a hard-working guy, very focused, unbelievable student. Then I’ll go down into the locker room on Saturday or Sunday, and if there is one guy in there that I’ll see in the rare hours, just getting down there and getting ready to go work on his own and do something. So doesn’t surprise me. He’s very focused and driven.
Q. Have you found recruiting to be different going through it the first time at Washington where it’s been different schools and players? Instead of going down and getting the fourth or fifth best player? Now you’ve got to compete against UCLA, SC, Stanford, those schools. How does that make you guys as a staff work harder and change things? Seems like a big difference.
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, I think the process for the most part is the same. We have a pretty specific process in terms of how we look at kids and vet them and all those things. But you’re right. It is harder. You’re always trying to compete to get to the next level. Certainly the same thing here. Trying to get the best players to come up there. So it’s a fine balance. One, they have an interest in us and to get them, and is he good enough and all those type of things. Then there is a guy down here that may not be recruited as heavily. The one thing we’ve never cared about is whoever — well, I shouldn’t say that. But I’ll go back and process this. We really never cared.
Q. Now you’re saying, is he good enough to play at this level that we’re now going to?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, so the best process for me to say when I said is we didn’t care who offered them. And they don’t really have a strong interest in us. They have to like you too. Do we really have a good shot at getting this guy?
I don’t want to recruit a guy for eight months in third place. That’s a lot of wasted time and money. So tell us early. Are you sincerely interested? Then we’ll charge hard.
Q. What do you think about that roster when you walked in? It’s been a long time since you inherited a team. Did you find real quick relationships with those guys? Did they feel like they knew you right away or felt calm by your presence? What was it like?
COACH PETERSEN: Well, that’s a hard time for everybody. It’s a shocking time. Everybody’s in shock. I mean, that is the bottom line. Everybody loves the drama of changing jobs and who is taking this job?
Everybody loves that outside of you, respecting your situation. So you go over there and take a job. And it’s not like shock that you did it, but it’s hard. Those kids are looking at you like what just happened?
The guys our leader looking at the Washington guys. I know half those guys, and they’re in shock. So that’s a hard time. So you just try to calm the waters. But my thing is I’m always trying to be really, really honest with the players. I just try to be honest. Tell them always exactly what I think. Try to do the right thing.
Q. Do you think it’s a crash course in building trust?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, education is important. That’s one of the reasons I came to Washington. We’re not just going to give lip service. Lot of guys may have come there and they love football, and it’s a good place, you’re going to get a good education too. But as coaches, we’re going to emphasize the heck out of the university. That is plan A. Everybody thinks the football part of things is plan A. No, plan A is getting a degree, getting a vision for your life, graduate and figure out how to do your life correctly. We try to flip that up. At the end of the day, they might not hear it. We might be a pain in their side about this academic thing, but I know their GPAs and I know who is in class. I check class myself. All those things are important because I’ve always felt like our most squared away students are going to be our best players. So academics are huge to me. They may not like it early on and there is some resistance, but at the end of the day, they’ll appreciate it.
Q. Can you tell me about Kasen William‘s injury?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, so he’s doing well. He’s running full speed. He’s out there working with the guys. In another week, I’m anxious to see when we start that he’s full go and looks great.
Q. But he’ll be 100% by training camp or by the season?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, yes to both. The trainers have said that he’s going to be ready to roll from the start. If he’s not a hundred, hundred percent by training camp, then by the season.
Q. With the academic commitment, do you maybe have guys who didn’t recognize their full potential because they were too busy with class?
COACH PETERSEN: We haven’t had that many guys like that. Are we talking about a class conflict? A class schedule? I will tell you this. In the recruiting process, and doing all the homework with the guys, one of the things, and we tell those guys, football on a scale of 1 to 10 isn’t a 12, doesn’t come here. You’re coming to the wrong place. You have to have a tremendous passion. It’s just too hard. We worked too hard. It’s year round. Do not come here. You’re coming to the wrong place. So hopefully we head that off. Now sometimes kids interests change, and you deal with that. If a kid doesn’t want to go through the grind, then he doesn’t want to go through the grind.