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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 3, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Huskies’ Chris Petersen hopes to build ‘a tough, unified and competitive team’

(Opening statement) “Thanks for being here. We’re excited, fellas…and ladies. Seems like we’ve been working a long time and we can continue to work a long time and probably not be exactly where we want to be…it’s just time to get out there and start practicing. I think our guys…I think they’ve worked really hard this summer and I think they are in really good shape to start with…not in football shape. Nodbody can be in football shape until you start playing football. That’s part of the fall camp process as well. So we’re excited to get out there and get after it.

“Couple roster things before we get started. You guys know that Jaimie Bryant has had a medical (retirement), which is unfortunate for him, for us. Did a really nice job in spring, we were really excited and his back…just one of those things. It wasn’t going to hold up. Didn’t really have any issues in high school, but it started flaring up at the end of spring ball, did some medical work on him and it was one of those things where it could have been bad if he keeps on playing. So he will not be back.

“Marcus Farria has been dismissed from the team. Probably the best way to say it is, violation of team standards.”

“Aaron Chapman has a knee issue, we’re still evaluating that, seeing if he’s going to be back this fall or not.

“We did get a late arrival in Vita Vea, a defensive lineman that we’re excited about, been recruiting him a long time. We get him in here.

“That being said, open to any questions you might have.”

(Decision on Farria) “Last week.”

(Explain splitting up the frosh and the veterans at the beginning of camp) “So we’ve done that quite often. I think most of our years we’ve opened up our fall practices kind of splitting our team in half. In the past we’ve done it for about four practices, four days. So the kids get singles, the coaches get double days. Coaches can’t stand it, except for me. I like it because they get so much work. But we’re able to slow things down a little bit, teach better. Not so many reps…they’re going to get reps, but it’s just cut in half. It’s worked pretty well for us, so this year we’re going to go our first two practices when they are in helmets, diving them up and really getting into that teaching process again. We never want to get away from being those great teachers. We think when the team is split in half and we do that – usually by the end of when we did it in the past the kids were really tired and worn out because they got the reps. We’re trying to find that happy medium, that balance there.”

(on Vita Vea) “He’s a kid out a year ago or so and we been recruiting him the last year and we were finally able to get him in here.”

(Is your staff all settled?) “Yeah, I think it’s hard to say that we’re all settled. I think it just takes a year. We know the process; we’ve been doing it a long time. But when you move to a new place and get everyone on the same page – from winter conditioning to spring football to summer conditioning and fall camp – it’s a little different. We’ve done it a certain way and we’ve blended in some of the things that were done here in the past. It’s kind of new for everybody. I think it takes a year because there’s such distinct times in the season that it’ll take for everybody to feel like, I’ve been through this, I know what to expect – and then for us to tweak things that might work a little better for us.”

(Who is getting the first reps at QB tomorrow?) “That is a great question. I don’t even know. That’s how important I think it is, or don’t think it is. All these guys are going to get reps. We’ll divide the quarterbacks up two and two – I believe Jeff and Troy will go in the morning; K.J. (Carta-Samuels) and Cyler (Miles) will go in the afternoon. That’s the hard one right there…how do you get your quarterbacks all the reps that they need when you’re trying to look at all these guys. That’s going to be tricky all the way through fall camp. We’re going to continue to evaluate it day by day, to tell you the truth.”

(Cyler will be with the newcomers tomorrow and Tuesday?) “Yes. And again, we’re going to have some guys that have been here to divide the numbers…we need some guys that know how it kind of goes to even function. Cyler will go in the afternoon.”

(How far behind is Cyler in learning the offense?) “How well do you know our offense?”

(Barely) “Yup. That’s where Cyler is. He’s behind. He’s done some things, as much as he can after spring ball, to get caught up. That’s a lot of meeting time, that’s a lot of practice time, that’s a lot of reps. He’s had these concepts, a lot of them. Some of them might be renamed and those sorts of things…that’s such a detailed position it’s going to take him a while to process that. It’s hard. He missed a lot.”

(Attributing what Sark left to what UW has to work with now) “Like I said, I think Coach Sark and those guys did a really good job. I think we all know that, from where he came in to where it is. But I will say this everyone does things so differently, and I think you could ask players, it just feels like something completely different and foreign, even though the styles on offense and defense are similar. And even if a quarter or half of the verbiage is the same. We tried to incorporate as much as we can so they didn’t have to learn as much. But there’s just so many things that are different from lifting weights to how our meetings go and everything. So, hey, they did a great job getting this program, building this thing up. But I think it’s different to the kids, it’s different to everybody. We’re behind. I’ve been saying that from the start. We’re the only new staff in the Pac-12, and because we came in late, we put our guys behind. So every day, every practice and every meeting, it’s just critical we’re all locked in.”

(Any deviation from old process?) “We’re always tweaking and changing. I think that’s part of what good coaches do. They don’t get stuck in their ways where it’s always like, ‘is this the best practices? Is this the best way?’ So we’re always evaluating as we go along. But with that being said, we really believe strongly in our process. It’s worked for us. We know it’ll work here. Now a process takes time. It does. You can’t snap your fingers and walk in and say ‘this is how we do it, guys,’ and everybody has it, ready, break. It doesn’t happen like that. So it’s always going to be working. We’re such believers in the process. That’s the secret sauce. It’s the process. Everybody has their way, but if you can stick to your way, your guns, your belief, your principles and not get derailed I think you’re going to have success.”

(How far from depth chart?) “I would like that to be still a couple weeks. I think certain guys have been around, played a lot of ball, and so we need to get things organized, got our seating chart. Would I like it for one of these young guys to be able to knock off an older guy that’s been here? Yeah, I would. I think that’s good for all of us. That’s competition, that keeps things healthy. Is that going to happen? I don’t know. Time will tell. But I think we want to give everyone a legitimate chance to compete and really earn and fight for their positions.”

(On what he wants to accomplish before Hawaii) “I think first and foremost, I don’t know if it’s one or two things, it’s everything. But it’s really how we practice. Our mindset. Practice is just … we’re all kind of doing the same things. We all get fall camp. We all get 29 opportunities and all that, so it’s how we use those opportunities, how we conduct ourselves in meetings and the fact that we can go out day after day and really get something done. We just don’t want it to be any of those practices where it’s day eight, we’re sore, we’re tired, let’s get through this. We’ve got to create some excitement where we’re continually getting better and learning something every day.”

(On anyone showing leadership) “I think so. We kind of put some onus on the seniors and I think there’s some leadership going on there. I think they’ve done a great job in the weight room, Coach (Tim) Socha’s process. I think that process has been very different. I think those kids got stronger, got faster, and felt it. I think they believe in it, how he does things. I think all that was really good. That’s kind of the foundation of this program, it starts in that weight room.”

(On weight room situation and setting goals) “I think it’s more of an attitude and effort type of situation rather than we’re going to shoot for these numbers. We kind of do some testing in spring and get a baseline. I think a lot of these guys improved from where they were as we go forward there. They had never had any of Coach Socha’s workouts. They know they’re going to be hard, but there’s a little bit of that feeling of like holding back, let’s kind of test the waters here. That cannot happen. There’s no testing the waters on anything. So I think they got over that hurdle and it started to go smoother. Smooth and hard. It’s hard out there. I think those guys did a good job attacking. I think they’re in pretty good shape. But now we’ve got to get them in good football shape.”

(Anyone limited/injured?) “Not as we go in right now. We’ll kind of figure that out. You’re always going to get guys get tweaked and those type of things. Kasen (Williams), we’re hoping he can go and roll. We’re also going to be smart with it. If his ankle gets sore, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to make sure we build him up, it’s a long season, we’re ready to go. But really, at this time, we’re saying we’re going.”

(Advice from anyone on pitfalls to avoid when coming into a new place?) “Not anybody that comes into a new place. I think the things that we believe in in terms of the communication, I think you just have to over-communicate, I think at all times but certainly when you are new and continually stay on those themes that you want to be all about and just really grind everybody until we’re all on the same page and it’s part of that process I’m talking about. We’ve been here six months or whatever. We’re still not there and we’re not going to be there next week, we’re going to be making progress, but it never stops. And when you start taking those things for granted, progress will stop.”

(on Troy and Jeff and how close to being starter?) “Since spring I haven’t seen them do one thing football wise. I’m anxious to see what that is going to look like. I know those guys made progress throughout the spring. I think the No. 1 thing is just consistency. Consistency with accuracy, consistency with decision making and if those two things have improved, whoever that is, is going to have a leg up on the other one.”

(on timeline for naming QB starter) “I’d like to have our whole team set by now in some ways. But I think the competition thing is good. Certainly that quarterback situation, if there is one position you would like to have stabilized it would be that, but if we don’t know, I think I said this before, even game week hopefully we’ll have that figured out, who that guy is going to be and if it’s both of them then we’re going to have to figure that out. When we know we’ll know. we don’t’ want to set a timetable on that.”

(on assumption Cyler starts Game 2) “I hope that’s a problem I have to deal with. … And that’s an assumption from you guys. You know better than I do. You’ve seen him a lot more than I have. That’s something we’ll deal with down the road. We don’t know. I’m anxious to get him back in the mix and see what he can do. He’s like a freshman. I’m always so anxious to get the freshmen out there. You’ve recruited them, you’ve seen them but you don’t’ know until you go out there and watch them run around. You’re really excited about some and some you’re like ‘I thought he would be a little further along.’ It’s always such an interesting process and for Cyler I feel the same way because he just wasn’t with us. I’m anxious to get him out there and see what he does.”

(Did you recruit Cyler out of high school?) “No I didn’t.”

(on running backs?) “There is some competition there but there is not a position that takes more pounding and can change in the snap of your fingers and we’ve learned that over the years. I don’t’ think you can have too many guys and I look at our depth chart and that’s where Shaq factors into that depending on how the depth holds up and those types of things. I think we’re OK there depth wise but … we’re solid. We have a lot of legs there. In the spring we got in trouble because right away guys got dinged.”

(Certain areas possible position shifts) “I don’t think we have so much position shifts. John ross did some things on defense and that’s something we would always pay attention to depending on depth and ability and those types of things. Shaq is the other guy we’ve talked about and if there is somebody else that can help us, we’ll do that. I like doing that. We’ve done that with tight ends and D-ends and moved them around in short-yardage goal line packages. I think it’s really fun for those guys and they really lock in and we’ve had success doing that. If somebody can help us in a way we’ll do that.”

(Other guys respond OK to position changes) “I don’t think anybody likes taking a rep away. If this is our next best option and it will help the team and we’ve always had such great team guys and if we don’t we’ll get there here as well.

(Freshman class — happy with how showed up?) “Yes. But I say that because the weight room is so different from that playing field I think there is a mentality and there are kids who do things really, really well in the weight room that don’t show up as well on the field and visa versa and maybe aren’t so good in the weight room with those guys that are an outstanding football player. So they are different although I do believe the foundation of our program starts with our strength and conditioning staff. So I know they have their favorites in there already, strength guys, and we try and tell them listen they did well but don’t bias us too much. We want to make our own opinions going forward.”

(on buy-in from players) “I think it’s always ongoing. I don’t think it’s like a snap of the fingers and it happens. I think it’s probably closer to that door opening slowly; it’s like, OK, we’re starting to figure things out. I do feel like we’ve made some progress in terms of the things that they know we’re going to believe strongly in. But we’ve got to set this foundation and figure out the things we’re going to hang our hat on and become that tight, unified team. Because it’s all fun and games until you start playing games and adversity hits, and then we’ll see where we are.”

(Have you seen some defining characteristics of what this team is about?) “I think they’ve taken a good step in terms of buying in to some of the things we believe in. They’ve turned up the dial in terms of their work ethic and those types of things from what we saw early when we got here. Like you said, early when you get here, it’s a hard, shocking time for those guys; it’s a little bit nerve-wracking for them, so they are starting to feel some things out. So we’re past that. Now, hey, it’s time to go and they’ve got that.”

(on team captains) “We really haven’t done team captains. I just don’t like to narrow it down to two, three, four guys. I think leadership is a shared commodity and for us to do what we want to do, there’s got to be a lot of people involved. So we’ve kind of changed those up game by game in terms of guys that are being leaders, are producing, are performing, all those things.”

(You’ve talked about being behind. Do you have a timetable for catching up, or will that be a season-long process?) “Oh I think it will be a season-long process. I think we’ll work all the way through it. Maybe there is a spot in the season where we think, ‘Hey, these guys are starting to get it.’ There’s just different phases: There’s a teaching phase, I call it; there’s a coaching phase; there’s a leading phase; and I think you’re back and forth through all these different phases. Very seldom do you get to that leading phase where you have that team, a mature team, and they get it and understand it and you’re just guiding them in the right direction a little bit. I’ve been there very few times, and when you are there it’s something special.”

(What’s impressed you about this team when you’ve been in that teaching phase?) “I would say, going back to the weight room — that’s been much different in there. So it takes a minute in there to figure out all the techniques, the drills, the mentality — all those things — and they have really embraced that in a positive way. That’s part of that. Sometimes, you get into the coaching phase, where it’s more about the details and techniques and those things. But you’re never just ‘there.’ Depending on what you’re talking about, you may have to dip back into the teaching phase. It’s always a slippery process.”

(Can you elaborate on the weight room …) “I don’t know exactly what they did in the past; I just know it was different. It was square one just in terms of how they approach everything in there. It was very, very different. I think they all liked it, though.”

(What’s your goal in terms of how physical you want your practices to be?) “I like to be really, really physical and get nobody hurt (chuckles). You have to do some things, but you have to be smart. It’s such a gray area and a fine line, and I don’t know if I have the formula on that. I know we gotta scrimmage a little bit, but I also know we gotta be smart to be ready to go. I’ve talked to a lot of coaches in terms of how many times you’re going to scrimmage and I think there’s a (mindset) of, ‘This is an old dog who’s been here for a long time and understands things pretty good. We gotta get him ready to go but he doesn’t need a ton (of reps).’ And then the fact that we’re new with our system. It’s just a lot of gray area that we’re going to be paying attention to at all times.”

(A year ago you were getting your team ready to come to Husky Stadium. Is that still surreal to you?) “I don’t think about it like that. I don’t think about that first game yet at all, and probably won’t think about it for a couple weeks. It’s just so much about getting this process right in fall camp and I know it sounds cliché-ish and all those things, but it really is — it’s got to be one game at a time. Was this a good day? Did we get better and learn? And if we’re looking ahead to that first game, I think that’s really going to hurt us. It’s just all about ourselves, getting ourselves right.”

(Is this first week of fall camp going to be like spring ball?) “Well, it’s different because in spring we get (to practice) every other day and that’s a big difference for the coaches and the players. Practice itself will be relatively similar. The days we’re in shells will probably look, for the most part, like they did in spring. And the days we’re in pads we’ll do a little bit more.”

(In the spring you had a lot of installation and fundamentals) “It’s always about teaching. They gotta understand what they’re doing and they gotta get the fundamentals correct and then you gotta play the game in practice as well. But to me it’s not just about running 200 reps a day; it’s quality reps. Again, it goes from those teaching-coaching phases back and forth and then, ‘Where are we on this? Do we need to go back to square one? Or are we good just to tweak some things and get some more reps?’ Again, I don’t think you just put the blinders on and say, ‘We’re going to do this today.’ We script out our first five practices or so, and we haven’t gone further because we want to see where we are.”

(If fall camp is successful, what will you see? What do you hope to accomplish?) “That we’re a tough, unified and competitive team that plays hard.”

(Any idea on what the strength of your team is right now?) “None.”

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