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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 13, 2014 at 3:13 PM

UW’s Chris Petersen on his 50th birthday, the Ducks, Kasen Williams and his friendship with Oregon’s Mark Helfrich

It’s Chris Petersen‘s 50th birthday today. He has no plans to celebrate. “Typical Monday,” he said, which means he got to hang out with his favorite press corps for awhile. (We forgot to bring cake).

Here’s what Petersen had to say after reviewing film of UW’s victory over Cal and looking ahead to Saturday’s road game at No. 9 Oregon:

(Opening) “Looking back at the game, really pleased with…go back two weeks after the Stanford game and kind of our guys’ mindset. How we practiced, how we paid attention to try and get better. I think it showed up on Saturday. Was really pleased, really probably starting with our defense and how hard they played, how they paid attention to all the things we’ve been working on since Day One. I thought they tackled well, they covered pretty well. We did a pretty good job against Cal’s run game, which has been effective. I think that’s one of the reasons they’ve been so explosive, is because they’ve had a legitimate run game going. I thought the first play was…first drive…Shaq got the fumble, obviously was the key to the game. I think that sparked us, probably rattled them a little bit. I thought it was awesome football. When you really look at the tape you see our guys inside — Danny (Shelton), Evan Hudson — really trying to plug gaps. They really didn’t handle the snap clean, but our guys were playing to stop ‘em, they really were. When Shaq got the ball he’s got a convoy of Budda (Baker), Marcus Peters, Kevin King. Marcus gets in a guy’s way just enough to screen him. Budda gets in somebody’s way, and Kevin King could have peeled off and blocked somebody, doesn’t do that to get a cheap penalty — I just thought it was really good football that kind of sparked us for the rest of the game.

“On offense I thought the run game could be cleaner. I thought Cyler (Miles) was effective and efficient, made progress there. And on special teams, got to clean a couple of things up in the kicking game. That’s my two cents.”

(Any protocol for getting the Josh Perkins ejection overturned in time for the Oregon game?) “Not much. We’ve been in contact with them and they are looking into some things.”

(What was your take on the call?) “You probably know. Those are hard calls. The bottom line is, officials are trying to get them right. Those are really close calls. We’re also sensitive about the head shots, trying to take that out of the game. Those are hard. It’s a lot easier when you’ve got the replay and you can sit there and look at it 30 times after. It’s a lot easier there.”

(What would you want Perkins to do differently?) “Very tough. It was really a reaction. John Ross is changing directions every nanosecond…a guy comes back and he hits a guy. We always talk about strike zone, bottom of the numbers and lower. So to not put anything into question, lower the strike zone.”

(Is there a chance it could get overturned?) “I don’t know. We had a conversation yesterday and they haven’t gotten back to us just yet. We’ll know more today sometime.”

(Does the school have to ask for the review? Or is that done independently through the conference?) “It’s not a Pac-12 rule, it’s a national rule, so any time anybody gets thrown out, they are reviewing that for sure to make sure they see a targeting call. They did look at it and…again, they look at it pretty quickly and sometimes the angles aren’t what we have, and those things.”

(What about Ross? Not just on that play, but in general?) “It’s explosive, it’s interesting (and) it’s a little bit scary for a coach sometimes because of what happened at the end of the play. A lot of times what happens is the ball comes out…they are running so far and they are all over the place, ball security’s always an issue…we saw that. The other thing is, sometimes you can take a big loss. You saw that a little bit on our kickoff a couple weeks ago. But there’s certain things you’re going to have to live with to get something good at the other end.”

(Did you say anything to him at the end of the run?) “Protect the ball.”

(Is there a way to coach things a certain way in those big scramble-type plays?) “No. You just continually talk about strike zone and where we’re trying to block guys. And I think our guys get it. Everybody’s making progress in college football; sometimes when they happen so fast, redirect – it’s a little bit like a receiver going over the middle and sometimes those plays happen fast, but DB’s for the most part have cleaned a lot of those things up. So we’re making progress as a game.”

(Sensed added maturity after this game compared to your last away game at Hawaii?) “I don’t know if it’s maturity. I guess you could mix some of that in there. I do think they’ve worked hard the last. I think they’ve worked hard every week, I really do. I just hope you’re paying attention to the details. Like I say every week and like I tell our team — we can work hard and not get any better. We really can. That’s really the common thing that most will do. Most people, most college kids…and to come out and work and really pay attention to the minute details to me is what separates some people, and I think we’ve made some progress there.”

(on Kasen Williams’ role) “We’re going to continue to look at it, we’re going to move him around a little bit and see if we can get him the ball more.”

(Do you look at Boise State vs. Oregon film this week?) “No. We’re talking about an elite program here. That’s the one thing. We’re talking about an elite program in the country, not only in our conference. And so to me, you know what Oregon’s going to do. So this all comes back to us. How are we going to play? If we’re not extremely…  playing our best football we’ve played all year, have as much attention to detail as we’ve had all year, play as hard as we’ve played all year, we’re not going to have a chance. So it comes back to us. So it doesn’t necessarily have to do with anything in the past. It comes down to playing good football.”

(On the Washington-Oregon rivalry, and frustration over Huskies not winning since 2003) “I know how the rivalry was, because when I was at Oregon it was kind of flipped in a lot of ways. I think there’s just interesting rivalries in the Pac-12, with all the Northwest schools, in a lot of ways. Certain schools are pointing at the other school, and the other school’s pointing at this school, and that’s kind of how it was way back when. When a team starts winning a lot against a certain team, that becomes their rival, and maybe not even so much to the other guys. You’ve got to win some to even it out, to make somebody your rival. But yeah, when somebody wins a lot, I know it frustrates a lot of people.”

(Why was Boise State’s defense so effective against Oregon’s run game in 2009?) “It was a long time ago. I just know the kids played hard. Two good teams going at it. … I don’t remember the details other than guys played really, really hard and effective.”

(Have you been to Eugene recently to see facilities upgrades?) “I haven’t been there since their brand new ones in the last probably two years or so … It’s impressive. It can change things. Not only that, it’s not any one thing, like we always say, but that’s a piece of it. They’ve got all these really cool things, but at the end of the day, if you don’t win – kids like winning, and what goes with it. So they’ve done a great job with that.”

(Can you pinpoint one thing Oregon has done to take next step since you left?) “I just think they’ve stuck to the process. Those are the same coaches. Half that staff were the same guys that were there when I was there. They’re really good people, first and foremost. They’re really good coaches. They’ve got really good support there. They’ve never said, ‘hey, we’re good. We have this building, we’re good. We have this stadium, we’re good.’ They’re always trying to figure out how to get better. It’s not any one thing. It’s this on top of that. They stack things, and they get good players that are good kids, and this is what happens.”

(On the Arizona-Oregon game, and whether it was wakeup call for Ducks) “I think that Arizona played really good and really hard, and we were saying about parity in this conference. I think Oregon’s really, really good, but you never know on any given night. That’s it. I’m sure it did. I’m sure it did kind of say ‘wow.’ Sometimes close wins or hard-fought losses, it’s all how you spin it. It can all help you.”

(On road teams being 14-4 in Pac-12 play) “I have no rhyme or reason and no answer on that. I don’t know.”

(Ever seen something like that?) “There’s a lot of things kind of this season that I have a hard time figuring out an answer. That would be one of them. I think it’ll be interesting to look at, at the end of the season, see if that plays out. (Whether it’s) weird scheduling, or it’s matchups. Some teams play better against others just depending on the matchups and the style, so maybe there’s a weird correlation there. I don’t know.”

(Learn anything from playing against Vernon Adams that will help against Marcus Mariota?) “I don’t know if we learned anything that will carry over there. (Mariota) might be the best player in college football, so that’s a problem right there. He’s going to make plays. He’s going to keep reloading, not get down and not back down, and keep playing hard. That I do know. They’re going to make plays. Really good players and like I said, maybe the best quarterback in the country. So it’s just about the next play and keep fighting, like we did on that first drive. It looked like they were going in and we made a play. It’s that mentality.”

(On designing plays specifically for Kasen Williams) “Yeah, there might be some of that, that’s what I was kind of alluding to earlier. We’ve got to maybe move him around a little bit more, dial some things up. So a lot of this, when you don’t huddle up a lot, it’s hard to get guys in position where you think the ball’s going to go. And then the coverage and the read dictates it. If the coverage says no, if a guy doesn’t win on his release, that says no. There’s not any one answer. We’re still looking at it and trying to figure that out.”

(Ben Riva came out early against Cal?) “He hurt his ankle. Third play.”

(That’s a totally different injury?) “Completely different. If he didn’t have any bad luck, he’d have zero luck right now. That’s all he’s been having. Hopefully get him going eventually, all that luck starts to turn his way.”

(Why was Oregon so much better against UCLA than against Arizona?) “That’s hard to say. A little bit different style. Like I said, I think Arizona kind of does what they do and they just executed their system. It wasn’t anything overly complicated. It really wasn’t. Really impressed in terms of how hard they played and how well they executed. That’s what it always comes down to. That’s the thing that jumped out to me. I was really impressed with the way those guys played Oregon.”

(on Oregon wearing down teams in the second, and how Petersen’s Boise teams handled that) “I don’t know. I think what Oregon does is they key running their stuff and they’ve got good player who don’t get away from (the plan). It might not work the first time or the second time, and then all of a sudden there’s that crease. Their whole thing is they get really good, fast athletes and they get them in space, and they’re not going to get away from what they do. So they keep running it and running it; you might hit them, but they might get a crease and now they’ve got it going and got a little momentum. And they’ve got an excellent passer who can run; and then if you actually cover (the receivers), he’s going to run around and find guys or run around you, because he can outrun most of the defense. It’s a hard combination to stop.”

(on Oregon with Mark Helfrich vs. Chip Kelly) “It’s different. It gets tweaked. It’s hard to say, but I think all coaches are continually evolving and trying to stick to your strengths, depending on what your guys can do. But it’s a really good system they’ve had their for awhile, so you’re not going to get too far away from it. … It’s all Mark and those guys now. Chip’s been gone for awhile now.”

(any differences you notice with Nick Aliotti out and Don Pellum in as Oregon’s defensive coordinator?) “Same thing. I haven’t studied Oregon a whole bunch last year or the year before, but old Don Pellum’s been there a long time with Nick and those guys think a lot alike. Sure, he’ll put his spin on it and emphasize the blitzes and coverages he likes a little more, but overall the structure and the base of the defense is the same as it was.”

(on his relationship with Mark Helfrich) “Good relationship. He’s a good guy. A really good guy. Like most football coaches, don’t really have any contact with him during the season. We don’t have contact with anyone other than our team and our wives, but he’s a great guy. Really is. Really smart.”

(you sense your team is more fired up for this game?) “Hard for me to know. I know about the Oregon-Washington stuff, but that’s not my focus, getting them fired up. To me, this needs to be about us. We’ve got (to play) a really good team — one of the better teams in the country, if not one of the best in the country, for sure. So what are we going to do? We know what they’re going to do. We know how good and how hard they’re going to play. What can we do? So I always want this to be back on us, the focus on us: ‘Are you doing the best you can do?’”

(Do you buy in to rivalries in general?) “I think this game needs to be played with emotion and if we’re ever lacking that, that’s not good. But there’s a flip side, a balance there: If you’ve got too much of it, you’re not going to play your best either. So we need to have the correct emotion. But I think that’s what makes college football so fun, the different rivalries around the conferences and everybody knowing each other and the fans and all that. That’s the pageantry, and one of the things that probably separates pro ball from college ball.”

(on UW’s young secondary) “I think they’re making strides every game. They’ve been challenged a little bit differently every week. I think Jimmy Lake does a really good job with those guys. Budda Baker’s as focused as any guy we have — let alone a young guy — and Sidney Jones is the same way. We have a couple other guys in there who are getting reps and doing some things in the secondary and I think they are improving rapidly, which we need them to do. I said way back when, ‘If they’re focused and really hungry, they will improve a lot.’ It’s so harder for the younger guys to improve a lot; the younger guys are green and will improve fast. We need them to and they have been doing that. And it needs to continue. We’re only halfway through this season right now. If we can play a little bit better each week, we’ll be heading in the right direction.”

(on what Cyler Miles did well vs. Cal) “I think he got the ball out on time. He did a better job in the pocket, feeling the rush a little bit better. I thought he threw the ball really accurately a couple times. Real accurate. And he’s just more efficient. I think he took what they gave him. He saw things quicker. Threw the ball more accurate. It comes down to those three things I always talk about.”

(on The Process — did Saturday validate some things for you?) “You know how these things go: Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. We’ve just got to take it one week at a time. You just don’t know. Sometimes the opponent has something to do with it, in terms of an injury or those types of things. We’ve got a really, really good opponent this week that will take the best across all three phases to be able to play with these guys, so we’ll really see if we have been climbing.”

Note: I had technical difficulties with the video today. My apologies. Here’s video of the press conference from Christian Caple.

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