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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 19, 2014 at 1:19 PM

UW’s Chris Petersen on running backs: ‘We’re going to need them all’

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Chris Petersen‘s Q&A session with the media after Tuesday’s practice:

(What did you see out of Saturday’s scrimmage?) “Saturday’s scrimmage. I’m so far past Saturday’s scrimmage … what are we on, Tuesday here? I saw improvement. I thought our offense protected the ball better. I thought there were definitely improvements across the board. We got a lot of plays; I think we had something like 130-some plays. So a lot of guys got some good work. I wish we could do that about every other day, because that’s really what we need. But we did see some improvement.”

(on improving on the idea of manufacturing your own energy) “We’re not going to get much done in practice if they don’t come out here with really good energy. We might as well just go back in if we just — we talk to them a lot of times about, you can come out here and get sweaty and get your heart rate up a lot and not get any better. The only way we’re going to get better is if there’s tremendous energy and focus. You’ve got to have the have the energy to bring the focus. Our belief is, nothing will ever be accomplished great in life — you pick it — without great focus and energy. Football as well.”

(on him joining Twitter) (laughs) “First of all, Twitter is not for you guys. It’s for the recruits. I think when Facebook came out I said, ‘Facebook? No one’s gonna do that’. And when I heard about Twitter, I don’t know how many years ago, I was like, ‘That’s not a good idea. No one is going to do that’. So I’m still behind the times. It’s always had to do with recruiting, so that’s the best way for us to communicate with those guys and that’s what it’s all about.”

(Thought about your first tweet?) “I don’t think it’s going … I don’t know if I’ll have a tweet out there. It’s that direct communication.”

(What’s better about communicating that way compared to other ways, like texting?) “If we could text them, I can do that. That’s my world. I’m good there, but we can’t text them. Facebook — about half of them seem to be on it, half of them aren’t. Twitter, it seems like 90 percent of them or more are on Twitter. That’s the best way to communicate, and I’ve got to try hard to keep up with the times. I’m trying.”

(Does using Twitter fit with your personality? Short and sweet, to the point?) “Yeah. It always comes back to those types of things in recruiting and communicating to those guys. Facebook was the way, but I’ve never Facebooked one person if they weren’t 18, 19, 20-year-old that had to do with football.”

(on the tight ends) “I think they are making progress, I think it’s a pretty good group. I think we talked about this early in camp — that’s a hard position. It’s such a physical position. You’ve got to play like an O-lineman, you’ve got to run like a receiver. And mentally there’s a lot on their plate. I always have tremendous respect for those tight ends. I kind of think they are the unsung heroes on the offense. I think they are making progress and working hard.”

(one main tight end starter or mix in the group?) “That will be done by committee. The thing I worry about is — it’s such a physical position I hope we’ve got enough guys there that we can hold up. I know it’s not going to be one or two guys, we’re going to need all hands on deck there.”

(who are the most physical guys at tight end?) “I think they’re all doing a good job of being physical. You’d probably have to ask Coach Paopao that. They’ve all caught my attention. We need to be more consistent across the board, but I think they’re all physical guys.”

(on offensive line competition) “I think it’s a great position to be in, to have some guys who have played a lot, who are very close. We need to keep that competition going — I love it. I wish we had that across the board, and we do. We’ve got some young guys in the secondary that are going to show up there. So it’s competition across the board, and I think sometimes when you get a veteran group sometimes there’s not competition. It’s like, ‘These guys got it.’ Well, that’s not necessarily the case at that position, so it’s really good; it’s healthy. It’s healthy for the two, four guys that are competing. They’re going to get better (because) they know they have to.”

(on running backs) “We’ve got a little bit of a seating chart around here at certain position. You’ve got to get started somehow, some way, and we will the first game. Certain guys have maybe been consistent in practice and then when we’ve scrimmaged (they) showed up maybe a little bit more. But I know we’re going to need ‘em all and they’re all going to get an opportunity. And then when the game’s played, those that stay healthy, those that produce, are going to get more carries. We have a big sign in our training room: ‘Durability (is) more important than ability,’ and I certainly believe that at that position. You can have all the ability in the world, but if you’re not out there for us — that’s a tough, physical, hard position to stay healthy at.”

(What has impressed you about Lavon Coleman?) “I think he’s a physical running back. He did a great job in spring and I’m anxious to see him play real football — real college football.”

(Any idea who would get the first carry if there was a game this week?) “I do not. I think it’s interesting — I know how much the media is always into depth charts. I don’t ever even asked that out of our guys. We talk about our guys, and we not only have to have our first guys ready, I think the second guys just as much. I could (not) care less who gets the first carry. And I don’t care who starts at right guard either. I know our coaches will put the best guys that we think deserve it and go from there and keep evaluating. So, just so you know, as the season goes on and you see a little change — that doesn’t mean anything to me.”

(Will you put out a depth chart?) “I think we will. I think when we have to we put one out.”

(On running backs’ hands) “We like to throw it. Those are pretty athletic, pretty strong guys; if we can get them out in space and get them the ball, it doesn’t really matter if we give it to them behind the quarterback or out in space. We’ll do whatever we’ve got to do to get our playmakers the ball.”

(on athleticism in today’s college game) “That’s everything. That’s what it is. The game of space and spread ‘em out and let your athletes go, and hopefully at the end of the day you’re trying to teach fundamentals and coach technique, but really if I’ve got a bunch of better athletes than you’ve got then I got a better chance of stopping people and scoring points.”

(Troy Williams and Jeff Lindquist getting more reps yet for Hawaii?) “Not quite, but we’re getting close. We’ll have to get those guys some more reps and that’s coming soon.”

(More on ‘seating chart’ philosophy keeping guys engaged) “I would hope so. I just think it’s not fair to these kids that are busting their tail, even once the season starts, even a guy that goes on scout team. … We’ve had this I think every year, a guy that’s played scout team that has done a tremendous job, that we’re not going to redshirt. We’ve figured out a way to get that guy in the game. That’s what practice is all about. We want to have guys feel like they’ve got a chance. We’re evaluating at all times. We can do that. We like that. So not only is the competition good, just for guys working and getting better, it’s our job and responsibility as coaches to see that and give those guys an opportunity. I think it helps as grow as the season goes on.”

(Decisions on walk-ons earning scholarships?) “We’re kind of in that process of figuring out what we have, if there’s a guy or two that deserve to go on (scholarship). We’re kind of in that process the next couple days. We meet with all of our guys, kind of have a heart to heart, hey, this is where we see your role, and where we go from that.”

(Decisions on freshmen playing?) “Yeah. There’s probably … I don’t know. I don’t know what the count is. Five, six, seven guys maybe that are going to go. Probably in the next three days we’ll have some decision on some guys for sure. But I also know there’s going to be a couple guys that we’re going to say, ‘hey, game three, game four, you’ve still got to stay with us, you’re still alive in case (of) injuries, you keep developing, you become better than the guy we’ve got out there. We’ve kind of learned that over the years. You can’t just say ‘OK, you’re redshirting.’ As soon as you say that early on, that guy ends up playing right away because … I don’t know why. Football gods come and get you when you make those decisions too early.”

(Starting to recognize Hawaii is coming up in a week and a half?) “I don’t know if anybody’s thinking that we’re that close. I know these guys aren’t. They’re kind of still in the middle of the dog days. Even the coaches, it’s kind of one day at a time. I think everybody’s done a good job of that. Just one day at a time. But we’re getting close to OK, here comes the game plan, this is what it’s going to look like, and I think it’ll hit everybody.”

(Putting in gameplan for Hawaii yet?) “We go into game week, it’s not going to be a whole new set of things. They’ve always been getting these plays that we know we’re going to run anyway. There may be a tweak or two but it’s not going to be real smart on us to come up with whole new plays they haven’t seen (instead of) that we’ve been working on all camp. We’ll put it together and package them and this part of the game plan, we want these plays here. But they’re going to have seen 98 percent of them already.”

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