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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 6, 2014 at 2:32 PM

UW’s Chris Petersen on Cyler Miles, Cal’s offense, defending the Hail Mary and more

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

(Opening) “Well, I’ve got nothin’. (laughs) You guys saw what I saw this weekend, watched some good football. That’s all I’ve got.”

(You’re not going to kick it to No. 9 this weekend, are you?) “Well, we didn’t want to kick it to number 7 the weekend before, that kind of seemed to happen. I think everybody’s got a good kick returner. That’s the one thing that kind of jumps out to me. You’re going to have to have good kick coverage. You’re not always going to not be able to kick to them. I don’t think that’s going to be possible. You’ve got to be smart in your strategy, but you’ve got to cover kicks.”

(What did you take out of watching the Cal-WSU game, especially Cal’s defense?) “Cal has a couple injuries in their secondary. I think you have a really good, elite thrower who’s been in that system five years now (Connor Halliday) that can throw with the best of them and knows that system inside and out. He’s just reacting; he’s not thinking. He’s just playing and playing at a high level. He threw a couple balls in there that, you’re like, ‘Whoa.’ Those are impressive. When you’re going to throw it that many times with that many good receivers, you’re going to do some things.”

(As a former quarterback, how do you react to seeing 734 passing yards in a game?)  “That’s not the same game I played. That’s about what I’d say. The game has really changed. It just really has, in so many ways with the awkward formations that we can get into. It’s much different than the pro game. I think you’re seeing a lot of the ramifications of what’s going on these days.”

(What do you make of the Pac-12 so far?) “I said this when I first came here; I’ve never seen a conference so balanced and so even. All these games are coming down to the last plays. It shows the parity, I think it shows the money in college football has evened everything out. Everybody’s got good coaches, everybody recruits good. You stay healthy, you develop some guys, and everybody has a chance.”

(When you see Cal’s results, is a pattern forming as to how they play?) “I don’t know. I don’t know about the pattern; I just know they can score points and move the ball with the best of them. They’ve got a good system, really good quarterback, really good receivers, really good running back. Their o-line is big, mauler-type guys that keep guys covered up. They are hard to get off blocks. So they’ve got a really good thing going. When you see that, game after game, all of a sudden you’re saying this is pretty good. That’s what I see out of those guys.”

(They seem to try out out-score their opponents in real shoot-outs) “When you’re on offense the goal is to score as many points as you can, obviously. I think everybody thinks like that. It doesn’t matter if you have a huddle-up, non-tempo offense; every time you have the ball you’re really trying to score points. I think sometimes you think these spread, hurry-up…they are trying to score more points than maybe someone like Stanford…that’s not true. They’re trying, we’re all trying to score points in our own way, and that’s the goal; to be as efficient as you can.”

(Has Cyler matured the last week or so and what have you seen from him?) “Nothing dramatically changes in one week. We’re not going to become a dramatically better team or dramatically worse team in one week. This is a process. That’s the main point we try and get to our guys. Your role isn’t going to change dramatically in one week. You’ve got to keep…you’ve got to have that grit, passion, and perseverance mixed together. That’s what it is; you’ve got to have that grit to be able to work over time. And then things will start to change. You learn little lessons along the way, and hopefully you’re better for them. I think there’s some of that, but…Stanford’s a good defense. That keeps proving out week-in and week-out. That was some tough sledding and there’s some things we could do different as coaches, like we said. And he could do some things different. So hopefully we’re all learning and getting a little bit better each week. After some more time it looks a lot different.”

(Cal scored on seven consecutive possessions. What are they doing well? Hurry-up, no huddle, spread — what are they doing particularly well?) “I would say yes to all your questions. I think this: Yes to all that, but what they do is execute. That’s what this all comes down to. It all comes down to taking care of the details. That’s what you see. They have a nice run game. They have a good running back and a good run game. Even though they want to throw it and have these really good receivers, Goff’s matured as well as anybody I’ve seen around. He hangs in the pocket, is very good in the pocket. But they execute, is what they do. They make tough catches, he makes tough throws. And they just kind of keep coming at you. Then they go fast, and then they kind of keep you on your heels, not getting lined up correctly or fast enough. They execute better than the other side.”

(What did you get done during the bye week? Identify thing? Install things? Get healthy?) “Hopefully a little bit of all those things. That’s usually the plan; get a few new things in, clean up some things, to get a little healthy, to get better – that is the plan. We’ve got a long season in front of us still to make sure we’re rested up and ready for this grind that’s going to take place. Nobody else in the conference has one bye. We’re the only team that does, so now we have straight games all the way through. This is going to be hard, and we’ve got to pay close attention to what you guys are talking about. There’s a lot of reps coming our way from practice to games; you see all these no-huddle teams, the defense takes a lot of reps depending on how the game goes. We’ve got to get our mind right. It always starts in practice and get a little bit better each week.”

(On offense needing to score to keep defense off field) “Well, I think we’re all in this together. I think it’s on our offense to score some points and I think it’s on our defense to get some stops. You’ve got to stop them. That’s got to be part of it. You don’t want your offense going three-and-out, three-and-out, five-and-out, those type of things. They’ve got to do some things themselves, as well. So we’re kind of all in this together. At the end of the day, the defense has got to get some stops. Cal’s been really good at keeping that defense on the field.”

(On young secondary facing big challenge this week) “We’ve got to do what we do. That’s what Cal – they do what they do, and they do it really well. So we’re not going to come up and design new schemes to say OK – that we know won’t work. What we need to do is get better at what we’re doing and I think we’re making some progress there. Remember, we’ve got young guys back there, we want to get them to mature. They are doing a good job. But there’s no question we’ll be tested like we haven’t been tested back there this season.”

(Any chance Shaq Thompson plays safety?) “Yeah. Like I said, Shaq’s a football player, so we’re going to move him around to get our best combination on there. It could be down and distance, could be team-oriented. Could be all of those things.”

(On the Oregon bow penalty – talk to your guys about it, use as example, etc?) “Yes to all of those things. Now, I will say this. There are certain emphases that keep coming out with the league, not only with our league, but like in college football that they’re really trying to emphasize. And so that starts at the start of the season, and then each week they’ll send out a memo: ‘Hey now, pass interference is a big emphasis this year. We’re seeing a lot of it. It’s not going to go away.’ And so one of the things that we talk about, too, is those unsportsmanlike penalties, so that we can be sensitive. So we certainly do talk to our guys. In fact, we talked to them last week and we talked to them again this morning, just about that. And it’s painful. It really is. The rules are the rules. I don’t know who makes them. We don’t. But they don’t want the kids doing that, so our job is to know the rules, understand them and play by them.”

(But did you see it and think ‘how could that be a penalty?’) “I didn’t totally have that reaction. I just, like, ‘oh my gosh.’ I’m sure like everybody did. That’s really unfortunate. And that’s what they’re going to call. Our deal is, we’ve got to learn from it and not let that happen to us.”

(On moving Danny Shelton around on the D-line) “I think we know what Danny can do, but I think it’s about moving combinations around and still getting him to do what he does well. But line him up different ways so not everybody sees going against that guy 40 plays in a row. Now he comes in a different direction. Just some little wrinkles to not mess us up and keep certain people off balance.”

(And Hau’oli Kikaha?) “We like, again, just to move him around a little bit, get matchups, create different looks.”

(What do you appreciate most about Cal?) “I think I appreciate the most about Cal’s offense … I think it’s a really good system. You can see they do what they do, and they just keep doing it over and over. They have a couple wrinkles each game. They’ll game-plan stuff they bring to the table. But they just run their core pass game, their core run game and do it really well. They’re good at what they do. It’s not something exotic and new each week. It’s the same stuff. They just execute.”

(On stopping the run) “I think it’s always – this is a pass-first team, but I think you’ve got to be able to stop the run. When any team can get you on both sides of that equation, you’re going to be in trouble. Does that mean we load the box, does that mean we blitz a certain way? Not necessarily. But we’ve got to always make sure the run-game is in check, even though we know they’re going to throw it and our coverage has got to be tight in there. we know what they do best, but they also run the ball really effectively and efficiently. I think both those backs, one’s over 6 yards a carry, high-5s, and the other’s right there as well. So I mean, they’re doing some really good stuff on the ground as well. They’re just putting up such big numbers scoring points and throwing the ball that no one’s sort of paying attention to that (running game).”

(Does Jared Goff remind you of anyone?) “He reminds me a little bit – and I don’t know how accurate this is – but he reminds me of Derek Carr, who we played against at Fresno for a long time. Really smooth throwing mechanics, the ball jumps out of his hand. He’s got a really strong arm. He’s smooth in the pocket. Just that style reminds me of him. That’s the guy I kind of thought in my mind.”

(Any young guys stand out during bye week?) “I think we’re making some strides at the wide receiver position. I think all those guys are making strides. One thing we did was we spent a little more time on some kids that are redshirting, getting those guys, not some scout-team stuff, but letting them play our system, get a chance to coach that up, so that was good. And even some guys that are playing with us that maybe aren’t true freshmen, redshirt freshmen, some sophomores that are 2s and 3s, got those guys a little bit more work, as well. I think everybody got some good work. Wish we could have a bye every other week.”

(How much time do you spend working on Hail Mary defense?) “So, probably need to spend more. You see (it) like, every game come up. We worked on it a couple times in fall camp, and we work on it usually once a week. But we probably need to just pay a little closer attention to it, and we will. Because if there’s the parity that we’re talking about and these games all come down to the wire, there’s probably a chance you’re going to see that one play at least once a game.”

(Should it be that hard to defend?) “You know, it’s just hard when there’s a lot of chaos going on, that ball’s up, it’s getting tipped and you’ve got to have some luck, there’s no question. I think you’ve got to coach that phase of the game as well, offensively and defensively. I know our coaches do it, but we probably just need to get everybody maybe a rep or two more each week.”

(on approach with Cyler Miles the past week?) “We’re always trying to be positive with our guys. But we can’t give somebody confidence or false confidence. I think when Cyler puts that (Stanford) game on, there’s a lot of plays that he did pretty well that might not look good from the stands: throwing the ball away; might’ve even been taking a sack (when) the next option is turning it over, and he didn’t do that. And so we look at that and say ‘This is all good.’ And then we look at this and say, ‘See how close you are on these other things? The ball just needs to come out earlier; the ball just needs to go this direction’ the ball just needs to be thrown a little bit more accurate.’ I just think the motivation thing is so overrated sometimes — a halftime speed or a pregame (speech). I think we’re into educating these guys, showing ’em. Like, ‘This is where we are and this is how close we are and this is where we need to go.’ I think that motivates guys, rather than, ‘Man, I love ya and you’re great and people like you and you’re smart enough and you’re good enough.’ We’ve got to just show ’em and they’ll get it and they’ll improve, and then it’s like, ‘OK, I see what you’re saying.’ It just takes some time.”

(You watch SNL growing up?) “Obviously too much.”

(After Stanford, did you have any thought to opening up the competition at quarterback?) “It’s open. It is open. Now, those other guys might not get as many reps, but until we see some growth out of those guys going, ‘That’s going to be better than the guy that we have,’ we’re not changing it. So that’s what they’ve got to understand. The hard thing is it’s like, ‘Hey, I’m No. 2, I’m No. 3, whatever, I only get this many reps.’ Well, you’ve got to operate efficiently at those reps and when you do, then you give us something to say, ‘Yeah, you probably do need a chance.’”

(Before the Hawaii game, you mentioned that Jeff Lindquist was taking better care of the ball than Troy Williams. Is that still the case with Troy?) “I think there’s still a little bit of that. I think Troy’s making some progress. I think Troy can spin it pretty good, but the one thing Cyler hasn’t done — and I don’t even know why I’m saying this (as he knocks on wood) — he hasn’t thrown it to the other guys. Now, part of that is he’s taking off, scrambling a little early; we’d like him to hang in there. It’s a fine line with all this stuff, but he’s been pretty good with the ball and that’s really, really important to us.”

(How much does the Hawaii experience give you a foundation for your first Pac-12 road trip?) “I mean, it seems like it was forever since we’ve taken that trip. So we’ve been kind of getting back to some things and talking about traveling and even in practice it’s been a little bit different in terms of some noise things and lack of noise things and lack of music and us bringing our own energy. So we’ve already been addressing it. But it is very nice to be able to play in your own stadium every week, and it’s much, much different (on the road). It’s a mental game. So we’re trying to get them right mentally before we leave.”

(more on youth QBs) “I think we’re seeing some improvement, some gradual improvement, but not where we are right now to say, ‘They’re the guy.’”

(on gap between Cyler and No. 2) “Cyler’s ahead. How much? I don’t know. We just always tell the backups at all positions this: ‘You’re going to get your chance. You’re going to get it. I can’t tell you when; I don’t really know that timetable. It’s like all of us in our lives, we’re all trying to chase these goals and whether you want to be the boss or you want to be whatever, you’re going to get your chance. You just better make sure you’re prepared. You get a chance every day in practice, and if it’s good enough there, then you’re going to get that chance sooner rather than later in the game. But if you keep working your tail off, you’re going to get it … so make sure you’re ready.’ Most guys want to mope around and say they’re not getting their chance. That’s just human nature. I’m not saying our quarterbacks are doing that, but that’s just how it is. Are you working your tail off? Do you have that grit, that you’re just passionate about this thing and just won’t go away? Do you have that perseverance to work through it? Not one week, not one day, not two days — it might be a year. And those (who) persevere are the guys (who) are going to surface around here. That I believe.”

(Was Stanford’s the best defense you’ll see all year?) “Probably not. I don’t know. I think Stanford’s really good. I don’t know. That’s kind of behind us now. … They were very good. If they stay healthy and keep improving …”

(Do you need to get more out of your tight ends?) “I think it would help if we could get something done there. I think that guy sliding into zones and all those types of things can be quite a weapon. I think we’d like to get those guys involved a bit more.”

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