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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

UW’s Chris Petersen on Stanford’s defense, John Ross’ injury, Cyler Miles’ passing and more

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Chris Petersen met with the media after practice Monday afternoon for his weekly press conference. A few news items:

The full transcript of Petersen’s press conference:

(How much of an advantage was Stanford’s bye last week?) “There can be some advantages in terms of getting healed up. It can go both ways. Sometimes you complain about getting out of your rhythm, those type of things. I don’t know. It’s hard for me to answer. … They only played a couple games. I think they were fairly healthy. If you have some guys beat up it’s always good to get a little time off, but three games, who knows?”

(Did you get the sense players were thinking about Stanford last week?) “I think you’d have to ask those guys that. Obviously the focus and attention to detail and all that stuff was not there the first half. I don’t necessarily think it was on Stanford at that time. I think it was more of us, for whatever reason, not showing up ready to play. I think it’s an unbelievable lesson. That’s what it needs to be. If you take your eye off the prize for two seconds and not have that edge to you, you can look very, very bad. I thought it was more on our offensive side of things. I think our defense played a little soft early on, but I think what happens is they kind of feed off each other a little bit. When the offense doesn’t do anything, the defense kind of starts looking, ‘what’s going to happen here?’ They start kind of getting on their heels. Starts going south fast. To the guys’ credit, they came out in the second half and did what they needed to do and played how we’re capable of playing.”

(On learning about team through four games) “I think we’re still figuring it out. There are certainly a lot of things we learned. I think we’re inconsistent. I think we’ve shown that. but part of that has to do with us having some new players, some young players, and some new guys that maybe have been around here for a while but haven’t played a lot. The good teams are really consistent, down in, down out. You’re never going to make every play, but you’re pretty consistent. And so it’s a work in progress.”

(Anything new on John Ross’ status?) “I think John Ross … practiced today and seemed OK. So we’ll see. Not willing to stand on the table and say he’s good to go and all that. He’s kind of a week to week guy. We’ll see.”

(Was that injury during the Illinois game?) “It was.”

(on Cyler Miles panicking in the pocket) “I think we’ve got to protect him better, number one, hopefully. … When you don’t get protected very well, you have a tendency to hurry. Your eyes go right to that rush to see if they’re going to protect you or not. So he was a little antsy in there on occasion. So I think it was a little bit of both, a combination of those type of things. Cyler hasn’t spent a ton of time in the pocket with real bullets being shot at him. He can move fairly well, so I always think that’s a tricky thing that you’ve got to be comfortable in the pocket, of sliding and moving and not overreacting and not running too soon and getting yourself into more trouble. So that’s going to be some work in progress as we go with his development.”

(How do you manage that with him?) “I think part of it’s instincts. If it’s right in his face, he’s got to react. A lot of that comes from trusting protection a little bit, because you see the blitzers come – ‘(will) they pick them up, set my feet and throw, or do I need to get out of here?’ It takes a lot more detail, a lot more poise than you think, a lot more experience. That’s one of the things we’ve got to do better. We really don’t want to run backwards. I think it’s always better if you can get up on the pocket. .. That’s going to be the reality of it. What we saw on Saturday, if you take a team like Stanford, and some of these teams, that’s what the protection’s going to be. It’s not going to be a brick wall that’s just going to hold up and you’ve got no worries. Guys are going to slide off, get around edges. You’re going to have to set your feet and throw the ball. I watched that game they played last year, and I think Keith Price did a good job. That’s one of the better games – I haven’t studied all his games – but I thought he was really remarkable in the pocket, because those guys get after the passer, and he hung in there appropriately and delivered some passes while taking some shots, and that’s what has to happen.”

(Jesse Callier’s injury?) “Jesse unfortunately is done for the season. Ruptured his Achilles, first play of the game, on the kickoff. So that’s a hard one to take, just a guy that’s a senior and some of the things that he’s been through. He’s doing such a great job for us. So that’s hard.”

(On playing Jeff Lindquist as a rushing QB and using guys’ unique skills) “We would like to get a lot of guys involved. I think one thing that kind of makes everything more difficult sometimes is no-huddle and trying to go fast. If you huddle all the time you can get a lot of people into the game, certain receivers, linemen, those type of things. Not huddling a whole lot, that makes it a little bit trickier. We do like to do that. We like to play to guys’ skills. We like to get everybody something in the gameplan. We like them to be excited about it and get good at it. I think you saw that a little bit with Jeff.”

(Fewer zone reads with Miles?) “He’s still reading a lot of things. You’re talking about him just pulling the ball? He might have been able to pull one or two, but for the most part I think … probably hand it off.”

(Seems like he has a knack for it) “I think he’s got a decent feel. You’re not going to always be right on those. Those things happen kind of bang-bang and sometimes you think you can pull it and the guy redirects pretty good. But I think he was OK for the most part.”

(Seen anything different from Stanford with new defensive coordinator?) “I haven’t seen anything – they still have their base defense. The thing that just really jumps out at you is they play really hard, first and foremost, and then they’re not going to give you anything. You’re not going to trick them on anything. I think their coaches are as smart as their players in terms of all those things. But I think those two things just jump out. They play really hard, their schemes are good, they’re not simple. It’s not just they sit in one thing. They’re going to punch you from all over the place, change defenses. They’re impressive.”

(Stanford defense remind you of anyone?) “I haven’t studied all the Pac-12 defenses yet, but it’s unique to what we’ve seen basically so far. They do a great job with it, they really do. They keep you off-balance and they’ve got strong, physical guys. It’s tough sledding. You put the tape on anybody, even if people got some point on them, they really had to earn ’em. The playmakers need to show up. You’re not going to get guys wide open and all those types of things. It’s going to be, balls are kind of close, receivers make plays, running backs are going to have to break some times, and the O-line is going to have to do a great job with movement, which we didn’t do that great of a job last week. So a big challenge.”

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(on improving intermediate and deep passing game) “Well … Cyler’s going to have to hang there. It starts with protecting him a little bit better, and then (he) gets a chance to set his feet and make clean reads. It’s always going to come back to the decision-making and accuracy, so if he can see where to throw it and he picks up some things and gives then gives the receivers a semi-catchable ball, I think those guys can make some plays.”

(Any chance Callier comes back for another year?) “We haven’t really looked into that. I think we were kind of thinking he was done, but I guess it’s something we could take a peek at. But I think he’s thinking that (he’s done) in his mind at this point.”

(on Danny Shelton) “Danny continues to play at a high level, there’s no question. So I’m anxious to see him play against these Pac-12 lines and see what he can do against the next wave of competition. Really hoping he can keep up what he’s started. He’s been impressive, to say the least.”

(on his view of the Pac-12 from the outside over the years) “I’ve been saying since I got here that I think it’s as good as any conference in the country. I think you look at the five teams ranked in the Top 20-whatever. And some of these other teams that aren’t ranked are still pretty good teams. I think you saw it last week that most teams that played out of conference won. The teams that played each other, they’re hard-fought games, going to down to the wire. I think that’s how it’s going to be most weekends. Just a lot of hard work ahead, certainly for us.”

(on his success at Boise vs. Pac-12 and other “power” conference teams) “I think one thing is, we didn’t have to play that schedule week in and week out. I think there’s something to be said for that. But we had some good players over there that played very hard for us. They made a lot of plays and they enjoyed playing that type of competition. So that’s what we were able to do fairly well. I think what’s different in this situation — now from here on out, week in and week out, it’s your ‘A’ game. There’s no ‘B’ game involved. If we have our ‘B’ game, that will be trouble.”

(on progress in defensive secondary) “Yeah, I think we made some progress. I do. With the young guys that we’re playing: I think Sidney Jones is getting better every week. I think Budda (Baker) is playing faster. You kind of just feel like it’s a matter of time before they start to take another step as well. Kevin King’s doing some good things in there. And a couple of other young guys are getting in there as well. It’s a passing conference, so we have no choice but to continue to get better, and I think that they will, as long as we stay healthy and continue to work hard in practice. I really have liked Sidney’s demeanor. He’s competitive, he wants to be out there, he really doesn’t back down. He listens, he takes coaching. And if he can keep that up, he’ll continue to progress. That’s a hard position out there on the island, as we all know.”

(on film review vs. Georgia State and second-half adjustments) “We went in there and made a whole bunch of adjustments that really were combined into one called an attitude adjustment — and that was it. We did a couple things different. I think it was about two things on offense, and I don’t know if we did anything different on defense. But everybody just needed to do their job, play like they’re capable of playing and make a play to spark us. And that’s kind of what happened.”

(more on halftime. Were coaches animated?) “It’s not going to do us any good to go in there and scream at ‘em and rant and rave. They already know; they’re not dumb. They could hear the fans in stadium — there didn’t need to be fans in the stadium. They knew what was going on. We just needed to give them a plan of what we needed to do to get back on track. To their credit, they did that.”

(on Marcus Peters and playing with emotion) “We want guys to play with passion, without question. I think that’s sometimes maybe some misinformation from maybe you guys and maybe even from our players sometimes how we want them to play. We want them to play with tremendous emotion and have fun and high five. This game cannot be played without tremendous emotion. Now, that being said, it’s got to be the right type of emotion, directed a certain way. That’s sometimes easier said than done. I just walked by a TV yesterday and saw something on the NFL and I saw about three fights going on on the sideline — some of it was even their own benches. And I just started chuckling, thinking ‘Oh, it even happens to the pros.’ It’s just an emotional game and everybody cares about it tremendously. We’ve just got to keep those strong emotions going in the right direction. But we need to play without emotion and we need to have fun. It’s a fun game, and sometimes we can take it so darn seriously. That’s the one thing about our kids: They care about this tremendously, and when it doesn’t go just how you want it to go, it can go south on you fast. So we’ve got to try help them keep it in perspective at all times.”

(on reaction to fans booing Saturday) “Hey, I would’ve been booing us, too. I was booing myself, going ‘Yeah, it is bad.’ You know, you feel bad for the kids because they are kids and they’re trying, even though it doesn’t go like we’d like it to go sometimes. But I know the effect it has on those guys, but we need to do our job and play better.”

(on starting Pac-12 play) “I don’t know if we’re ready or not. We’ve got four games with some good experience. This whole thing is always a work in progress, and I really mean that. This is going to be a completely new challenge to us that we haven’t seen in these first four games. We’re well aware of that. We have to step our game up. We have to play at a level we haven’t played at yet to compete with these guys. Hopefully those first four games helped us somehow, someway.”

(Have you looked back at Stanford and how they changed things from 1-11 to now?)  “I haven’t looked at it specifically. I know this; they had one really good player in there that changed things pretty quick named Andrew Luck. And they were probably making good progress before that, but I think there’s a foundation being laid and to me it always comes down to players. You get some really good kids that are good players…you look at their roster and that’s one of the things that jumps out at me; I don’t see freshmen. I see juniors and seniors. Every coach notices those things. Those juniors, a lot of times they are fourth-year juniors, and then you have the fifth-year seniors, and that can really help somethings. You can take a guy that’s been there for a long time that maybe hasn’t done anything, but now he’s really ready to step in and carry the flag. He’s ready for details and that type of thing, so that’s one thing that jumps out. That takes a while to get to that point, but I think they’ve done a great job of building that program, there’s no question it’s an elite program in the country.”

(What got you to the point where you had a conversation about being Stanford’s head coach in the past? “Stanford’s a great place. I’ve never worked there, but we know what that university’s all about. That’s one of the reasons I’m here at Washington. This university is about a lot of the same things — an elite education, being able to attract really good kids here and play really good football.”

(Is that the most interesting opening that you had when you were at Boise State?) “I don’t know. I had a quick conversation with those guys and that was really it.”

(Challenges with school starting this week?) “It changes it a little bit; maybe more than a little bit. It changes it a lot. We’re morning practice guys, and we’ll have to go a little bit earlier to get most of our guys off the field at a certain time to be in class. Our schedule had to bump a little bit earlier. We didn’t want…we wanted to keep it as close to what it’s going to be this week so there wasn’t a dramatic adjustment going into this. We moved it about 45 minutes. But then when you start going to class and now you have to factor in homework time and all those things, to me it’s a lot different. So we’ll have three days of that and we’re off and running into real college football.”

(Was it an advantage to have four games without school?) “I think it’s pretty beneficial. The kids really don’t have much else to think about, other than football. That being said, these guys that are in class are well into their routine, and that’s how it goes. So now we have to adjust here quickly next week, week-and-a-half to get into this thing. Can’t be something that’s throwing us off the routine that we’ve been in. And we’re here to go to school. We need to make sure we keep those priorities in order.”

(Any clarification on being able to talk about prospects signing financial aid agreements?) “Yeah, I can (talk), so we have one — Jake Browning, our quarterback out of Sacramento. We’re really, really excited about that and we’ll get him in here mid-year. I think you were talking about it being a trend guys are going to. You’d like to have all your guys in here…and again, I think everything kind of starts in the south and the east, these trends. I remember way back when I first started getting into college football Penn State had twenty-some juniors committed to ‘em by the end of summer, and I’m thinking, ‘What? That’s ridiculous. Who’s going to do that? How do you know what they are going to do their senior year?’ Now everybody would like to have twenty-some juniors committed by then. Next step is, what you want to do is get them in your program as fast as you can. Certain guys are into leaving high school early and other guys aren’t. They want to finish…they might be a two-sport guy, maybe want to go to the prom, may want to finish it out there. Really it’s kind of an individual decision to the kid and the family, but we’re really excited about Jake coming up here.”

(What did you see that got you intrigued so early?) “We knew his coach for quite a while, a really, really good coach (Troy Taylor, in Sacramento, ex-Cal quarterback). When Jake was a young guy he said we’ve got a guy who is really, really (good). So we started looking at him when we were at Boise. He came to see us at camp and stuff and we really, really liked him from the start. And a lot of people really liked him. Fortunately we came over here and he came up here and really liked what he saw.”

(What’s your future philosophy when it comes to signing UW prospects to financial aid agreements?) “I think the one thing is, it needs to be a really good student, first and foremost. Because they are going to come in mid-year and our university, they aren’t going to allow them in unless they are really good students mid-year like that. And secondly, it’s maybe us being a little bit pro-active. If we know a guy that wants to come here, to look at the transcript and say, if you double-up on this class or take an extra class here, an extra core class or something, you can get this done early. It may make sense for them to go, ‘Hey, I want to do that’. It’s becoming more and more prevalent out here in the west. That’s just the way I think it’s heading.”

(And quarterbacks especially?) “Quarterbacks always seem to be the first in everything; first to commit, first to get there to learn the system – they know how that thing goes. Spring ball is so huge for everybody, let alone the quarterbacks.”

(How far do you go to placate future quarterbacks in terms of insuring their spot on the roster?) “In this whole recruiting thing we try to be as honest as we can. I would like to always take one quarterback in every class, in an ideal world. We don’t live in an ideal world, because guys want to play and a guy leaves, all those different type of things. But in an ideal world you’re trying to recruit a guy in every class, and you want that guy to be better, potential-wise, than anybody on your roster — have those guys good enough to jump guys. And the next guy, we tell them we want them to be better than you, we hope he jumps you. But it’s not really about that. We tell them, don’t worry about them, just worry about yourself. We know what kind of potential you have. If you realize your potential you’re going to be a really, really good player here.”

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