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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 20, 2014 at 2:27 PM

UW coach Chris Petersen on struggling running game, quarterback situation, injury updates and more

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Notes, quotes and video from UW coach Chris Petersen at his weekly Monday press conference:

(How is Dwayne Washington?) “Dwayne was out there today running around there with us, little bit sore but we’re hopeful. I think we have a few guys that we’re hopeful for and it’ll be game–type decisions depending on … come back tomorrow and the next day.”

(Lavon Coleman one of those also?) “I think he’s better than a game time decision. I think he’s feeling pretty good today. I think Cyler will be kind of similar. We’ll take him one day at a time, want to make sure he’s all good.”

(Did he have a concussion?) “He had some sort of concussion-like symptoms, they say. This day and age, everybody’s hypersensitive and very cautious, and rightly so.”

(Is there a protocol you go through to make sure he’s OK?) “There’s always a protocol and they give him tests; physical tests, mental tests. I don’t have the exact protocol, but it’s pretty strict. It’s pretty right on. I think most people in the country are doing it and our people are even … they are on a couple panels, national committees. Anybody in our athletic program that gets a concussion is looked at even more so.”

(The plan is to start Cyler Miles on Saturday?) “Plan is that, but like I said we’ll take one day at a time with him.”

(What did you think of the way Troy Williams played?) “I thought Troy did a nice job. He really did. I thought he was, for really playing his first time and going, I thought it was pretty solid.”

(What did he do to earn those second-string reps?) ““I think he’s worked hard and it just kind of comes from production. He does get reps in practice and all those guys do and they are competing every day. Troy throws a pretty nice ball and it comes down to reps and being a good decision-maker. He’s a pretty accurate thrower. Getting put in at the end there and I thought he responded well.”

(Change practice habits with Miles uncertain for Saturday?) “Like I said, we’ll take it one day at a time. Cyler’s had a lot of reps now with us. I think it’s good sometimes when we hold out our starters when you can. We’ve got to pay attention to all our starters in terms of wearing them out a little bit and keeping them fresh. It’s that fine balance between giving them the right amount and not too much. It’s good for a backup to go … go today, see what you’ve got.”

(What did you think of Cyler’s game before he got hurt?) “Thought he was OK. I thought he played better. I think that against a team like Oregon when you turn it over twice that can be back-breaking. And you hate to say that, but I think when you’re playing a really, really good team you have to play really, really good. You have to play really clean. And so I think those two turnovers really hurt. He did do some good stuff, but he probably didn’t — at that position — play as clean as we probably needed him to. I thought he competed hard, he competed well. But that’s the position that can kind of dictate a lot on offense.”

(Why haven’t you been able to run the ball better?) “That’s a great question. I think first and foremost, Oregon’s — I think they are pretty stout. They are pretty good. And they were certainly better than us on Saturday, their defensive front. I think it’s a combination of, we’ve got to block ’em better, and I think we’ve got to run better at running back. Not any one guy, but we’ve got to … I kind of look at what Oregon was doing and I thought their O-line did a really good job. And that back is big, fast and runs hard. That’s what you’d like it to look like.”

“If we can’t run the ball and the team we’re playing can run the ball really well? It’s going to be trouble for us. And you saw it first–hand. I don’t care how many yards they throw for. It’s always going to start right there.”

(Have there been recurring issues?) “They are recurring. Guys just have to play better. That’s the bottom line. We’ve got to block better, give our backs a chance to get something done. Then when we do we’d like our backs to be able to get out and get loose a little bit. I think it hurt having Dwayne out of the mix, because he does get to the second level. He’s got some pretty explosive speed and that hurt us a little bit.”

“I think when you play a team like Oregon you get exposed in some ways, you really do. You can really see where your issues are. You can see how you match up talent-wise. That’s what you want your team to look like talent-wise. And how did we match up? Some places we matched up pretty well, some places we didn’t. I think you can get exposed on your attention to detail. Because even if the talent’s not right are you doing your technique and your assignments just right? And even if you’re getting whipped physically, hey, you shake their hand and move on.

“And the third thing I think when it goes like that is your competitiveness. Are you going to back down at all? And that’s much easier for me to sit here and talk about it, because you’re there to win the game. There gets to be a point sometimes where there’s frustration. Can we get anything done here? Most human beings have a tendency to back off, not keep playing like the game’s on the line. That’s a hard thing to train. I think we had a lot of guys that did play very hard until the end, but I don’t think everybody did, and I’d be surprised if everybody did — because that’s the first time we’ve been in a situation like that. I think that’s a very hard thing to do and it’s something we’ve got to train and talk about, which we do. And now we’ve lived through it a little bit.”

(On Deontae Cooper’s game against Oregon) “Coop is such a … you’re always just rooting for him to do well. I mean, you’re rooting for all your guys, but he’s just a great guy to be around. You just like to coach guys like that, and you want him to do well. And I thought he did play well. He made some plays. I think he did well. I think as a group, running the ball, getting back to your initial question, just everybody involved with that, even receivers blocking safeties and getting downfield. Everybody just needs to be better. If not, we’re going to struggle.”

(What’s it going to take to compete with teams like Oregon?) “I think all three of those things that I just spoke about. I just told you exactly what it is. Whether we match up talent-wise … you saw the best player in college football. I don’t know if he’s the best player. I think he’s going to the first pick in the draft. That guy is something else. And I don’t know if – I think coaches realize. You put the tape on, see what he’s doing, whether he’s running the ball, pitching the ball, option, opposite hand when we tackle him, how he goes through his read progressions, how he can throw to his left on the move, in sync, all those things. So when you start with that guy and you’ve got the best in the business. Good things are going to happen. They’ve got defensive line, those defensive ends are really, really special. Corner’s really good. So, talent. Details. Been doing that system for a long time and they play fast and they play hard and know what they’re doing. And then how hard are you going to compete.”

(How much did it surprise you to get whipped physically?) “There’s some of that. I knew they were good. Let’s make no mistake about it. Because they lost a game – I’ve been on some good teams that have lost a game maybe you shouldn’t have … whatever. Any given Saturday we all know weird things can happen. That’s an elite team. I really think so. And so we knew some of the matchups would be tough. I think probably the thing that I’m most looking for is our attention to our detail. Regardless of talent level, can we just execute with precision, in terms of tackling, gap responsibility and gap integrity and not losing our eyes. All these things we talk about forever and work on every day, but when you start getting on your heels, and somebody mentioned I think after the game, some of your guys trying too hard, somebody said they might have been trying too hard, and you talk so much about just do your job. Just do your job. Don’t do someone else’s job until you have to, until you see the ball. Well, when they’re moving the ball, moving the ball, moving the ball, and all of a sudden you think he’s got it and you start to slide and a really fast quarterback pulls it out, a really fast back bounces it, you see what can happen when you stay on your heels.”

(On preparing for Taylor Kelly or Mike Bercovici) “I think either one of them is going to be quite a challenge. (Mike) Bercovici’s done a great job. But I know Taylor Kelly too. I’ve seen the guy for a long time. He’s from my neck of the woods. I know what kind of competitor, what kind of quarterback he is. I think he’s one of the really good ones. Sounds like he may roll a little bit. I think Arizona State is on a roll and doing good. Put the tape on and you’re like ‘OK, here comes another really good team.’”

(You recruited him?) “We did. We were in on the Taylor Kelly sweepstakes at one time and all those things. Recruiting happens so early and it’s hard to … commitments here and there. I know Taylor.”

(Are offensive line struggles surprising given experience?) “I don’t think it’s all about just experience. I think you’d like to take the next step, think you’ve got the talent to take the next step. I think when we struggle, I think we’ve played some pretty good defenses, some pretty good d-lines. But yeah, with the guys that we have in there, we’ve got one freshmen in there, the rest of the guys have played a lot of snaps. You’d hope to take the next step.”

(What is Kasen Williams’ ideal role in the offense?) “I don’t know. We try to move him a little bit inside, maybe a little bit more as an inside slot receiver. Try to get him the ball outside, tried to make the tough play. Those things happen. That’s a hard one. You guys ask that every week and we do too.”

(Is his health where it needs to be?) “I think like I said before, I think that was a pretty significant injury he had. I wasn’t here before. I’ve seen tape and all those things. But I know it’s a factor. I can say that.”

(What’s wrong with downfield passing game, especially to bigger receivers?) “A little bit of all that. Brayden Lenius is a true freshman, played very little. Josh Perkins didn’t play the first half. Jaydon’s done a pretty solid job of getting some things going. I think Dante Pettis is coming on. But again, it’s never one thing. I think all those guys got to step up a little bit. I think we’ve got to protect a little bit better for Cyler, the quarterbacks. I think it comes back to what we were talking about early on. I think it’s all about details. We talk about details in the running game, details in the passing game. We’re not a detailed enough team right now. And certainly some of that credit goes to the opponent. When they play good, make it really, really hard on you, margin for error’s really, really thin. At least we know where we stand in terms of those type of things. I think we’re going into another situation with another really good defense, talking about Arizona State. We’re going to have to get better and tighten some things up, or it’s going to be tough sledding. You saw what they did against Stanford. I don’t know if you saw the game. I’m just talking about the score. They played some good defense.”

(How anxious are you to see Troy Williams in a competitive situation?) “That’s a good question, because I think it’s always different for the quarterbacks. We’re so picky on those guys in practice. And if a guy throws an interception in practice or scrimmages, it’s like, it just can’t happen. It just cannot happen. But yet, a lot of times the other positions, you’re a little bit more lenient with. And so I think if a guy practices at a high level, whatever position, he’s going to play pretty good. But I think that quarterback, he’s pretty stingy giving the ball to our defense in practice, he’s going to do a good job. But it’s going to be different, we know. I’m always anxious to see sometimes our backup quarterback get in there. I think sometimes it’s scary, you’re going, ‘OK, we’re seeing some things.’ But then it’s awesome to see what Troy did when he did get his chance to get in there. He made some things happen and threw some good balls and then ran around when stuff wasn’t there.”

(Would you consider giving Troy maybe a second-quarter series or something like that?) “I don’t think we’ve got to that point yet. You start getting into the rotating quarterbacks and those types of things and I don’t think any coach really loves to do that. But you do like to get those other guys some work.”

(What’s the approach from a loss?) “We always try to learn every game. As hard as the losses are to take — it’s painful. Nobody understands the pain that we go through. You just don’t know. You’re around it, but you don’t know how painful it is to come into that meeting room, what we go through as coaches, how much these players are. With that being said, if you do this thing right, a loss like that can be beneficial down the road. It really can. In some ways you’re going to learn more than when you win. Sometimes you have tendency to gloss over some things (after a win) when you really need to pay attention. But it’s all good when it’s good. So it’s painful. It’s painful the last couple days around here, but I think the kids were up this morning — probably the best thing was, we just needed to get back out there and go and start working on some stuff. I think everybody starts to feel better.”

(on ASU offense compared to Oregon’s) “They’re different styles; everybody’s got their different style. It’s a one-back spread, no huddle. They emphasize different plays. So in that way it is different. But the generic style is certainly the same.”

(on ASU’s defense) “They stepped up big time (vs. Stanford). I think they’ve played really well. That UCLA game was a bit of an anomaly. I think UCLA kind of got it rolling and we all know when these good teams get it rolling, you know … But other than that, they’ve played really good. And last week against Stanford, it was a buzzsaw that those guys ran into. They played really, really good. They’re aggressive. They’re hard to block up front. Stanford’s got a pretty good offensive line and can run the ball with the best of ‘em, and they struggled to do that.”

(Do you look at last year’s loss to ASU?) “We look at a lot of tape. Sometimes it’s last year’s tape of maybe not even us. We certainly will look at most of the tape from this year, and we’re just trying to analyze the best way to attack people on all phases and make sure it’s the same thing we’re seeing. Maybe the styles are different or they’re doing different schemes, so you double check things.”

(on potentially having Shaq Thompson play more running back) “I don’t think you can have enough running backs. So that’s (why), all along, we’ve had Shaq kind of in the mix in case anything happened. So, like I said, we’ll just take it day to day. We’ve always kind of got some other guys warmed up and we’ll see how Lavon and Dwayne progress in the next couple days and go from there.”

(more Shaq) “Shaq always gets reps at running back. Every week. He might not in a game, but in practice he always does.”

(Did you consider using Shaq at running back vs. Oregon?) “We didn’t get there quite yet, but he could’ve been.”

(on Lavon Coleman trying to play through injury) “I thought he was doing the best he could and I thought he showed a lot of toughness.”

(on Oregonian story about UW players laughing on sideline in fourth quarter. Is that the kind of thing you feel you need to address?) “I don’t. Like I said, I know how much these kids care. Different things on the sideline happen. I don’t think anybody thought that was funny. I know our guys don’t think it’s funny. I think if we’re not focused, if you think a kid doesn’t care, then he’s not going to be part of this whole deal. And I don’t think that’s the deal at all. I think sometimes we care too much and take it too serious, that’s what I really feel.”

(on some true freshmen emerging) “I think that Naijiel Hale — I always like it when he gets in there because I think he brings good energy. He really competes hard. Darren Gardenhire got in there a little bit; I like the looks of him as well. Brayden Lenius, he hasn’t played a lot for us; we’d like to get him in more. You have these young true freshmen, you’re just itching for opportunities to get those guys in the game and get them quality reps. I think all those guys have made some headway.”

(Are you a fan of 7:45 p.m. kickoffs?) “I’m definitely not. I don’t think you guys are either. But it is what it is. From where I was in the past, we played in every single night of the week and I think from the latest time slot that can possibly be played to the earliest. A few years back, I think we had a 9 a.m. California kickoff that we played. We had our guys up at, I think, 5 in the morning. So we’ve done it all.”

(So a 10 a.m. kickoff vs. Colorado isn’t much better?) “7:45 is more of an issue. We’re morning guys, so 10 a.m. shouldn’t be as much of a problem as the late-late. … The later games are just hard waiting around all day long. That’s hard. I think everybody likes to get up, get ready, go play.”

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