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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 15, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Video: UW’s Chris Petersen on Marcus Peters, Cyler Miles, Georgia State and more

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Notes and quotes from Chris Petersen‘s weekly press conference:

(Opening) “Looking at the tape defense played much better obviously. Thought those guys were flying around. Shaq Thompson played real well. Thought some of our young defensive backs played pretty well. On our offense we did some good things, still a little inconsistent at times. Think Cyler was fairly efficient, think he played fairly well. On special teams I think our return units — I think we need to tighten some things up there. I think we can get better there. Those two penalties on special teams were really, really hard on us. One called a touchdown back and another one backed us way up after we got a good punt return. Those things are hard to stomach when you work so hard to get those yards in the kicking game.”

(on challenges Georgia State brings with Pac-12 play starting the week after) “That’s not even kind of an issue for me or this team. All you have to do is put on the tape and what them throw for 400 yards. And watch them throw some balls like that happened to us a couple weeks ago. There were some unbelievable throws he made this last week. So the process just continues in terms of us getting ready for a team that can really throw it, the run game is pretty effective. It’s a combination of a couple of teams we’ve seen and they’re moving the ball, moving it in big chunks, scoring points and so it’s just about us improving from mistakes we’ve made the last couple weeks. But if our mindset is in the future we’ll get hit right in the mouth.”

(on what impresses him about Shaq Thompson) “I think the first thing that jumps out about Shaq is just how much I like being around him. That’s the first thing I think of. He’s just always got a great demeanor about him, he’s always got a smile on his face since I’ve been here. I’m sure he’s had a bad day but I haven’t known when that day has been. So those are the guys that make the coaching thing fun. And then when you back it up and he can do so many things on the football field – wow this guy is kinda special.”

(on any players Petersen doesn’t like being around?) “We’re still adjusting to a few of them but I like most of them.”

(on the Illinois game being a validation of progress for the staff or players) “Well I mean I kind of, I think I said this before, if you look around the country not only this year but previous years, there is always struggles early on. ‘Why did that team struggle’. It never goes like you think it’s going to go. Then you couple it with newness. To me it’s not totally surprising, it just never goes like you think it’s gonna. All these games are such struggles I mean even though our guys played fairly well and made progress it still feels like a struggle. That’s just the game. There is really good coaches on the other side, they got really good players, there is always twist and turns that you didn’t expect so it’s just a struggle. Part of this deal is learning to appreciate and enjoy the struggle even though that’s a hard concept.”

(on three games in and the comfort/expectations) “I think that we’re starting to get a better handle on our guys, we are, because practice – our guys are practicing hard. Again, I know Shaq was a good player but I never had been around him in a game or when we’re going full speed live all the time. Couple that with our young defensive backs, couple that with Cyler, all those things its like ‘how is this going to go’. You start to get a better feel, so you start to anticipate some things better. At least you have a better handle on things.”

(on Marcus Peters) “Yeah, we got him back. He’s back with us and we’ll take one day at a time.”

(on Marvin Hall slipping on the depth chart, anything to read into that?) “No there really is not. It’s just kinda production and sometimes it’s not always about the game. Sometimes guys don’t get the reps they need in the game but it’s certainly about practice. If guys are practicing at a high level it doesn’t matter if they are a freshman, senior or whatever we’re going to try to get those guys some more reps and it comes down to that. We’re going to need all of our guys at that position without question. I think we’re a little thin there, I’ve said that from the start, so we just need everybody to keep progressing.”

(On what he expects from Marcus Peters going forward) “I think most of that stuff is kind of between us and the team. But I think it’s just about doing things like a good teammate should.”

(Has he done everything you’ve asked so far?) “For the first six hours, yes.”

(On motivating the defense after bad game against Eastern Washington) “Well, let me say this. It wasn’t that they weren’t motivated to play Eastern. I keep going back to that. I mean, Eastern played darn good. That is a very good offense. Our guys were playing hard. Were they happy with that performance? No. Did they go back to work and are they working their tail off to improve? Yes. And that’s all we can ask. We’re getting better, building some skill each week, learning from our mistakes, but I go back and I look at that Eastern tape – there were just some really high-level football execution going on on their side of things. A couple times we weren’t in great position, but a couple times we were in perfect position and a perfect throw and catch is still undefeated. If it’s a perfect throw and catch, you’re not going to be able to defend that. And they had a couple of those.”

(But going from giving up 52 points to 19 …) “We made some changes. We made some coverage adjustments, those type of things, to mix some things up to help our guys out a little bit. We got some turnovers. We get three turnovers, we score on two of them. That’s not going to happen every week. So a little bit the ball bouncing our way, a little bit the guys getting better, a little bit of coaching, maybe help some things out. A combination of all those things. It’s never usually one thing. When it’s one thing, those are really easy to fix. Usually it’s not that simple.”

(on getting the ball to Kasen Williams more) “Well, I think some of it’s coverage. I really think it’s a lot of that. And I think maybe him and Cyler (Miles) getting on the same page a little bit. I think some of it has to do with Kasen needing to shake guys a little bit, get himself open. Again, I don’t think it’s any one thing. But like I said after the game, we do need to get him more involved, there’s no question. Kasen’s another very good kid. I mean, here’s a guy who hasn’t caught a lot of balls in the first couple games. Hasn’t said a word. Just going to work. I think we’re all trying to figure out how to make that happen for him.”

(Injury nagging him?) “You know, he doesn’t say anything about that. And it’s interesting because he’s got a little bit of a limp. And I put the tape on of last year, and he had that last year before he got hurt. So maybe it’s just part of his swag. I don’t know.”

(Moving him up depth chart show confidence he’s ready?) “I mean, he is. We just, like I said, would like to get him more involved. We look at those things, and it’s not any one thing. Long season, and we’re going to need him to make some plays for us and do some things, without question.”

(Anything dismay you about playing a team like Georgia State?) “No. I mean, I don’t even think of it like that. I just put the tape on, and say, ‘is this a problem?’ And I see a team that threw for 441 yards, and I’m going, ‘that’s a problem. That’s a good challenge for us.’ And so those issues are for, like, offseason, AD-level, all those type of things. So I just look at what they do well and know they’re going to create some problems for us, and how are we going to try to stop those and get better? Because some of these things that Georgia State will do, we’re going to see again. Whatever our weakness is, is going to be part of our opponent’s game plan this next week. That’s how it always is. So we’ve got some things to shore up from the first couple weeks. We’ll see some of those things. I’ve already seen them on tape that they do. So hopefully we can be ready to counter that.”

(Could you expand some on their quarterback, Nick Arbuckle?) “I mean, he threw about four or five passes in there that I’m like, ‘Wow,’ on this last game. And I haven’t seen us throw any like that. It was like Eastern Washington-caliber. Balls down the seam, covered well, but on the money, caught well. And again, it’s like, I don’t know we defend that if they throw it like that because that’s a perfect throw, perfect catch. I saw a few of those. So I think they do a good job on offense. They’ve got a diverse package, spreading it out, mixing it up. They’ve got a nice little run game, and they throw it all over the place. So it’s a good blend and I think they’re starting to do some really good things.”

(Did you know much about Arbuckle coming out of junior college?) “I did not. I think that just goes to show you that there’s a lot of good players out there, and if you get them in the right system and get them coached up, they can do some pretty special things.”

(How much more do you want to get John Ross involved in the offense?) “We’d like to get him involved as much as we can. It’s unfortunate the one kickoff had to come back. We try to get him different touches. What we need to do is get other guys involved, too. So it’s not just all about him or one other guys; then it makes us harder to defend.”

(Was that a good call on the kickoff?) “Yep, it was.”

(Did you notice the officials’ calls being more delayed in that game Saturday?) “No. Sometimes they can’t get it out of their pocket or something. I know it was a lot of flags; I didn’t notice so many late.”

(There were 15 flags in the second quarter — how do you clean that up?) “Some of it’s judgment. What we say is, ‘Sometimes the best block is no block.’ So there were a couple of those. A little bit of technique things and between the combination of those two things we’ve gotta clean it up. Frustrating — it’s just frustrating as all get-out for a coach. It really is. That can affect the game. I always go back to this, though — I know when I was a play-caller back in the day, nothing could irritate you or throw you off (more) than a penalty to get you out of your rhythm. But with that being said, and you guys know this as well as I do, there’s not a huge correlation between penalties and winning. So the kids have got to play aggressive. The ones you don’t like are the ones that are stupid penalties. Any time a guy’s around the sideline, that’s a real caution area; around the quarterback’s a caution area. Anything up high. So you’ve got to play hard, physical, fast, but you also have to play smart.”

(There was a sideline warning on Saturday.) “It was probably on me. I don’t know. Can’t stand the rule. You think you’re back …”

(Cyler as a passer: Where does he stand out and where does he need to grow?) “I think accuracy, he can grow. I think with all of our guys, that’s such a big thing. I think he’s not a bad decision-maker. There’s probably five fundamental things we kind of always look at, but I always go back to decision-making and accuracy. So I’d maybe like to see him a little more accurate on occasion. He threw great deep balls, but a lot of times when the balls are going out to those bubble screens and those things — those are harder to execute like we need them execute than just (how it looks) sitting in the stands. Those are hard to pinpoint. If they don’t come out pretty quick, and they’re not right on the money, they’re usually not going to get you what you need to get. It’s kind of an extension of a run play, and if it doesn’t lead that receiver, there’s usually guys out there, if he has to stop and reach back for it, it’s usually not going to be what we need to get. So I think his accuracy is something we can always hone in on.”

(on naming Miles a captain against Illinois) “I think he’s just been doing a great job since we’ve had him back in the mix. He’s been very into it. He’s been a very good teammates. He’s been producing. All those things. We like to mix that up (the captains) as much as we can. We think it’s an honor. We don’t want to just hand somebody the captain torch, but if guys are doing things to help this team — shoot, it could be in the locker room — but usually it’s a combination of playing decently and helping our team going in the right direction.”

(on freshman Dante Pettis as a punt returner) “I think Dante’s done a nice job. I think he’s going to continue to get better. I think he’s going to grow with (his) confidence. We kind of saw that in practice when we did a little bit of live punt returning in the fall. He was kind of a fearless guy. He had that; you could just feel it. So I think he’s going to become a really good decision-maker back there for us, and he’s not going to scared to take that ball, cram it up there and break some tackles. So I’m excited to see him continue to grow. I still think too many balls are hitting the ground back there for us. It’s hard in college football — I can’t stand the punt-return rules. I wish they were like the NFL, that you can’t go into all these multiple formations, you can’t release everybody down field. It’s kind of taken the punt return game out of it, and so it’s really hard to return balls in the college game. You watch the NFL, if you can lock down their gunners, you have a good chance to get something done. And I think it’s an exciting part of the game. And so for us to get a couple chances last week, to me, I was really excited.”

(How do you coach that position?) “We practice it just about every day. We have a few technique things and we try to ingrain these few technique, fundamentals into their bodies so they’re not thinking about it. So really all they’re thinking about is making a good decision, catching the ball with technique. … If they can’t catch it with good technique, they shouldn’t catch it. We want every ball caught. We just need to have a little bit more aggressive mindset (because) too many balls are hitting the ground.”

(on Georgia State defense) “I’m still in the process of studying those guys, but they have some athletic guys that can run around. A couple linebackers that make a lot of tackles. …

(on decision to play Troy Williams over Jeff Lindquist late against Illinois) “We’re still just trying to figure out who that next guy is. I think it’s still a real active competition. Get them on the field a little bit. Jeff’s been on the field and you’d like to get Troy a few more reps. That’s really what it is.”

(so no decision on who would play first behind Cyler) “I think we kind of go through the week and see where we are with those guys and on Friday determine where we go. Depending on a situation in the game, (that) may determine that as well.”

(What do you like about your offense?) “I see us getting more efficient in some of the things we’ve been working on for a while. I think we’re getting into a little bit of a rhythm. I think those things are pretty good. When they start to hone in on our base package, we’ll be able to built off…but we’re just not there yet in terms of being able to build off of some things. We still have to shore up some base details before we can start to get into some other things. And we’re making progress there.”

(How much of your offense have you put in?) “I don’t really know what that number is. I just know that every week there’s stuff that would be really good to do, but if we don’t have some of the stuff that’s kind of our base package, it’s hard to say let’s go add this on…we’re a jack of all trades, master of anything.”

(What’s the process when figuring out what uniforms to use?) “I think it’s already done. I think we got some players together with Bart, equipment manager, and it’s already scripted out for the most part. I just like the ones we win in. Wear whatever they want to wear as long as we keep winning.”

(Would you just rather have the traditional purple and gold?) “I think I’m a little bit more of a traditionalist; I really like this helmet — the old gold helmet and the stripes. I do like that, but I think our kids like the variety and the recruits love the variety. If those guys like that and it’s really important to them, I’m all about that.”

(What goes into your decision to call gadget plays?) “It’s usually down and distance, field position where we want to run some of those things. I think a lot of it comes down to, after that just the feel by the play caller, coach Smith, and when he’s feeling – hey, this might be a good time to try this. The nice thing about them is, they are usually fun. The kids enjoy practicing them. There’s a chance for a big play off one. When they do you look really good, and when they get blown up you look, what in the world are you doing?  They are kind of hard to practice too. They are hard to get good at because you can usually get it one time on your defense, your scout team – and you need probably more reps than one time to get the look that you want. There’s a little bit of an art and trick to practicing them that we’re still kind of working through as well.”

(Do you favor the running backs set the tone for the offense?) “A lot of people feel they’d like a balanced attack. When you think about that, if you can run the ball, everything else is set up off it. When we can’t run the ball, those are hard days for us. One compliments the other; to us it does start with the run game.”

(Comfortable with the QB getting 10-12 carries a game?) “We need to be smart and careful with that, there’s no question. There’s been some quarterback runs that we’ve really liked that we’ve thrown out to say I don’t know if this is one there’s a good chance he’s going to take a good shot on this. I think you’ve got to be smart down and distance field position-wise and be choosy about ‘em. I think the quarterback himself needs to be smart and crafty of not getting hit, of knowing how many yards I can get and then get out of bounds or get down. I think Cyler did a better job this game than he did the first game.”

(Talked to Cyler about how he holds the football?) “We’ve been talking about that, and we can’t just talk about it; we’ve got to drill it so it becomes a fundamental, a habit that…we can’t say, ‘Cyler, I told you that for the last three weeks’ – which we have. But we’ve also been working on the drills of tucking that away. We’re just not there yet. It’s not quite as easy, because he’ll come out of there and after a read – sometimes it’s a run-pass option and he’s used to carrying it in this position – and when he goes he really needs to change that position. That’s going to be some work in progress, that’s not easy for a guy that carries it like that a lot, and we need to reprogram him. But we have to because you could see that one coming for the last couple weeks.”

(Jermaine Kelly had surgery?) “Jermaine had surgery this morning, yep.”

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