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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 27, 2014 at 2:49 PM

UW’s Chris Petersen on Cyler Miles’ return, Shaq Thompson at running back, Colorado and more

Chris Petersen

Sophomore quarterback Cyler Miles took first-team snaps with the Huskies’ No. 1 offense on Monday morning, and UW coach Chris Petersen reiterated that Miles will start against Colorado on Saturday (10 a.m. PT, Pac-12 Networks). Miles did not play in the Huskies’ loss to Arizona State a week after suffering a concussion.

“A guy’s not going to lose his starting job because he gets an injury,” Petersen said at his Monday afternoon press conference.

In other injury updates, Petersen said UW’s top two running backs, Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington, should be “a little bit better” this week. “Lavon could have definitely played” against Arizona State. Petersen didn’t rule out the possibility that Shaq Thompson could make the switch to running back on a more full-time basis.

Junior left guard Dexter Charles, out against ASU with an apparent foot injury, is week to week.

An apparent knee injury to sophomore safety Trevor Walker sounds more severe. Petersen said Walker will get tests results this afternoon.

Here’s the full transcript from Petersen’s press conference:

(How did Cyler look?) “Cyler’s OK. He’s been OK since probably mid-week (last week). No change there. It seems the same. A guy gets dinged and you don’t get him back the next day. If there’s any lingering effects it’s going to prolong things. We had him available and we had him going mid-week but just really didn’t have enough reps and wanted to be safe with him and all those things.”

(Any talk during the game about putting someone else in at quarterback?) “There wasn’t really much. It was going to be so hard for anyone to play quarterback in that game and throw the ball, and were there some things we had in the game and could have done better? Yeah. Everybody has that. But those conditions were pretty tough on throwing the ball. We did get a few things done late throwing the ball, so we could have done some things. But to throw somebody in there that late, there wasn’t really a lot of talk about that.”

(So Cyler is back and getting first team reps?) “Yeah. A guy’s not going to lose his starting job because he gets an injury.”

(Was your decision on Cyler and his injury consistent with any player, regardless of position?) “I think it’s pretty consistent. If you feel like a guy has enough reps to be successful and probably his experience — if you’ve got a guy who has been here four years and has been through it and isn’t going to need a lot of reps to get ready and timing and all that, that would factor into it. But Cyler’s still playing his first year himself, so when it comes to those type of things you want to err on the other side for sure.”

(Expect Shaq Thompson again at RB?) “We’re still working through that. Shaq did a heck of a job. My hat’s off to that guy. Wherever we need to play him, he’ll go there. I was talking with him about it today and he’s like, ‘Just tell me where I need to go.’ And I think he really means it. I’m trying to push him, ‘Hey, if you had your druthers …’ and those type of things. I thought he did a good job. He ran hard, made some things happen. He’s a good player.”

(What was the plan for Shaq on offense, defense? Expect that many snaps on offense?) “Didn’t have as many snaps in mind as he was going to go. Go until he could go and he was in there a few times and needed to catch his breath and put Coop in there, Coop did a pretty good job. We’re just continually analyzing that whole situation.”

(Did you want to keep running him based on feeling comfortable with the situation?) “It’s hard during the week to say, ‘You’re going to start on defense, you’re going to start on offense’ — you can do it all. I just don’t know if that’s possible, because there’s so much game-plan-specific stuff on both sides of the ball. So it’s kind of like you’ve got to choose one or make an emergency guy on the other side.”

(Did you think about putting him in on defense with the game tied at 10?) “Our linebackers were playing (well) — Keishawn Bierria, he’s a good player. We have some good linebackers, and obviously Shaq is equally as good. We’re just trying to maximize our talent and figure out the best way to do that. Shaq factors into all these talks; the secondary, linebacker, at running back — and how do we best help the team?”

(So Shaq was just with the offense during the practice week?) “He was on the offensive side most of the time. He did a little something (on defense), and we’ve done that in the past at running back. In parts of practice we’ll flip him over. But you still have to major on one side.”

(on Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington this week?) “We anticipate those guys being a little bit better. Lavon could have definitely played; I don’t think there are many running backs that are completely healthy at this time of the year. So the more rest we could get those guys the better it was. And again, if we were going to move Shaq over there and play him, he’s going. He’s playing. Another good week of practice for those other two guys to heal up should help us.”

(Any realistic way to evaluate Troy’s performance because of the weather?) “I think you can analyze some things. I think it has to do with where to go with the ball and throwing on time – all those type of things. Now if the ball’s not super accurate…it’s going to be hard to be super accurate, especially when you’re throwing it down the field a little bit in those conditions. And so I think you can take some stuff and analyze it. Is the ball coming out? Are your eyes right? Did you need to take a sack? Could you scramble? Could you throw it away? All those things.”

(What stood out in those areas?) “It’s kind of the same stuff. It was those areas where he needs to get better in; he needs to get better at throwing the ball quicker, got to go through our read progression and all those type of things. First, second real game of snaps and to be put in from the start against a pretty good defense in tough conditions. It’s tough sledding.”

(If you could have forecast the wind as early as you were able to with the rain, would that have changed your thinking about who should start at quarterback?) “No. Not in terms of the quarterback. No. I’m not sure how that would change our thinking when we have our starter injured and those type of things. We’re always going to put the best guy in that gives us the best chance to win that we think, as long as whoever is available, whoever has the most reps. We’re not trying to put someone else in jeopardy of getting hurt more.”

(Any explanation on the running into the kicker penalty on the blocked punt?) “We have not. We’re still waiting to hear back.”

(Did it look blocked to you?) “Yeah, it was blocked. We’re still waiting to hear back. And then if I do hear back, you guys know how it goes. I can’t say anything.”

(Would you play both Cyler Miles and Troy Williams?) “Not really. We’ll do it if somebody’s just really struggling, but that’s not ideal. So we don’t go in thinking that way. We go in thinking, ‘hey, this guy’s gonna go,’ and we try to hang with him as long as we can and get him into a rhythm, and hopefully he can make some things happen.”

(Thoughts on Deontae Cooper’s game?) “I thought Coop did a nice job. The guy’s amazing, what he’s been through and where he is. So I thought he was very solid. He found some creases, got vertical north and south. He’s always going to be a really good security blanket – I mean that in a really good way – for the coaches, because he’s going to do the right thing. He’s got a good knack for finding creases and those things. And such a great team guy, as well.”

(Can he carry 15, 20 times per game?) “I think if you ask him he’d say that. But I think we’re still trying to figure out if we have one of those guys who’s that guy, and need to get that guy into a rhythm as well.”

(On Korey Durkee and the punting game against ASU) “Well, I’ll tell you what, if you put that tape on, I mean, Korey was struggling to get those snaps. And Ryan (Masel) does a pretty darn good job of getting some velocity back there. But there was a couple of those snaps, they were like curveballs coming to him. As soon as you take those punters out of their rhythm, that really struggles. We’ve still got to do a better job on our protection, so Korey was also having a hard time handling the snap because of the conditions and he was kicking it out really, really quick. That made it really, really difficult on him. Like I said after the game – and this isn’t all on Korey, I’m not saying that – they did a better job in their punting game than we did – and it starts with our schemes and what we’re doing there, and we’re looking closely at that stuff.”

(If the offense needs Shaq Thompson more than the defense, could that be a full-time move?) “We could. That’s the million-dollar question right there. You never feel like you have enough firepower anywhere. I don’t know if there’s any coaches – maybe there’s one or two teams, ‘we’re good.’ So we’re always trying to figure out, where does it give our team the best shot in the arm? But I think if we thought that, we could possibly do it. I think it’s kind of a week by week evaluation of where we are.”

(Do you think Thompson is the kind of player who can handle that?) “I do. I really do. I don’t want to set him up for failure on something like that. But everybody needs reps and you can’t just throw somebody in there. You just can’t. I think that’s what some people assume – ‘let’s play him on defense this week. Let’s get him in the game’ – it’s not that simple. Nobody can do that. But if we needed to move him on the other side, different position, I think if anyone on our team could do it, I think it’s Shaq.”

(Would that have to be a pretty dire situation to do that?) “I don’t really feel like it’s dire. I think if we got in trouble at a position like we kind of were at running back, that’s a really good answer. If we get in trouble at another one of those positions on defense, it’s a really good answer. I think when it’s dire, we’re moving guys that have never played there or we’re feeling like well, that’s just all we’ve got. I never feel like that with Shaq.”

(How would that affect his NFL future?) “I think that this helps Shaq in his long-term future, because I’m not sure what he is. I know he’s something really good. I’m not sure at the next level he is that linebacker. He might be a hybrid, a nickel, a safety. He could be a running back. He’s got a lot of tape – we’ve got a lot of tape on him as a linebacker to assess that. Well, let’s look at him at some other positions. I think it helps him.”

(Evaluations of the coordinators so far?) “I think we’re doing fine. I think the defense is in a little more of a groove. We’ve got a little more depth over there. On the offense certainly with trying to find a rhythm and trying to find what we do best, trying to get our quarterback settled. Play a few games, our first game, give Jeff (Lindquist) the chance, then get Cyler going, feel like we’re starting to make some progress there, then he gets dinged a little bit and we have to put a new quarterback in, had some tough conditions. So we just haven’t been as settled as we’d like to be. And I think that makes it hard on everybody. But I think if they’re analyzing everything they possibly can, give our guys the best chance – and it’s going to take some time. There’s no question about it. We’re not going to come out one week and all of a sudden, hey, how’d that happen? I think I said it a couple weeks ago – whether it’s player, coach, offense, defense, it’s kind of a couple steps forward, step back. That’s how progress is. It’s really hard to – certainly we didn’t make much progress this last game. Again, we’re talking about, OK, we had a new quarterback, we had a pretty good team, defense that we’re playing, we had some tough conditions, all those things. It’s hard to take that step that we’d like as coaches.”

(More on the offense) “Again, I think guys are all – I haven’t really felt like, ‘hey, the offense has really come together or emerging.’ But I think the energy, I think the focus, I think how hard they play, we’re really proud of that. Certainly, did we execute well enough on offense or the kicking game? No, we didn’t. but like I said, if we stay focused, if we stay energized, keep working, we’ll get better. If we don’t, then it won’t be what anybody wants.”

(Ever had a situation with three starting QBs in one season?) “No, I’ve never had this situation ever. So yeah, offense … you’re always trying to make that guy (quarterback) successful as possible. So what are we talking about there? I’m talking about the running game. I’m talking about how receives help out. All those things, because it’s such a hard, complicated position. So if everybody else is playing at a high level, that’s going to make his job a lot easier. And certainly we’re not there in the run game, receiver game, nobody’s got it and we’re in a good groove there. We’re all just working hard and trying to keep at it.”

(on going from 8 p.m. start to 10 a.m. start this week) “We (went) from playing probably as late as we possibly could to probably playing as early as we possibly could. You know, we’re morning guys anyway — that’s when we practice — so it shouldn’t be too much of a factor. If we don’t come out and start fast, it’s not an excuse. We know it’s coming. We’re morning guys. We’ve got to be ready to go.”

(What about Colorado having just played early?) “I don’t know about Colorado. I know they played (early) last week, so maybe it’s a little bit of an advantage. Same routine, that helps. But the game time’s not the major factor.”

(on Dexter Charles’ injury) “It’s not long-term. He is week to week. He was out there today doing a few things. Whether he goes (Saturday) or not is still to be determined.”

(on O-line play vs. ASU) “I thought at times we started to get things going and at times we struggled, there’s no question about it. That’s one area where I’d really like us to take the next step, is in our run game — to help out our quarterbacks and everything else.”

(How do you evaluate Jonathan Smith as a playcaller?) “I think he’s doing a good job, I really do. Is it translating on the field? Hey, it’s not what anybody wants — it’s not what he wants, it’s not what I want, it’s not what anybody (wants). But, you know, sometimes coaching can be a little overrated. When things are going good you’re the greatest coach in the world. So we’re trying to get that right combination and get our run game going. (If) our run game starts to block a little bit better, all of a sudden we’re little bit better coaches and our quarterback plays a little bit better and all those types of things. But he’s a smart guy, he knows football, he knows quarterback play”He’s a smart guy, he knows football, he knows quarterback play,” Petersen said. “Like I said, it’s not going to be a snap of the fingers. They’re all brand-new quarterbacks who’ve never played a snap of college football. We’re talking about replacing a three-year starter (in Keith Price) and an All-American running back (in Bishop Sankey) … there’s a lot of little factors that go in there. But we’ll get there. We’ll get there eventually. We’ve just got to keep believing and keep sticking strong to the process and analyzing things and figuring out what our guys do best and putting them in the best (position) to be successful.”

(on passing game) “I’m not getting hung up on this last game. Go look at (ASU’s) offensive stats. They’ve got one of the best offenses around. Taylor Kelly is a top-notch quarterback with a big-time receiver, and they’ve been doing this deal for a long time — and the stats were almost identical. Everybody loves to pile on when it’s not all good. We win the game, it’s a different conversation.”

(on Trevor Walker’s apparent knee injury) “Trevor is seeing the doctor for X-rays and all that at 4 o’clock today.”

(on his first two-game losing streak as a coach since 2007) “It’s hard. You lose one game, you lose two games, it’s hard. It is hard. I think that the important thing is to stay strong and stay positive and not let all the outside noise rattle any of our players. I’m really good at that, because I don’t pay attention to anything on the social media. If I did, I’d probably quit right now. I hope our players can do the same, but I know that’s the world they live in. And that’s where, we go back to when we started (here), I’d always been against some Twitter things and all those, because I tell our guys, ‘How are you going to let someone validate you make a couple good catches or play a good game (when that person) really doesn’t know what’s going on. And then, likewise, when you struggle a little bit, now all of a sudden you’re in the tank because everybody piles on — and they still don’t know what’s going on. They don’t know what your preparation is like; they don’t know what you’re like as a person and all those types of things. I just think that stuff can be scary. I think one thing that helps is, just everybody pays attention to what we’re doing and kind of isolate ourselves a little bit. And it’s even hard when you do that because we’re all so prideful ourselves; everybody’s trying to do the best job we can.”

(Do you get the sense that players are still thinking too much rather than just playing?) “Yeah, it’s a little bit of that. It’s a little bit of good players on the other (team). It’s still getting dialed in to some schemes. And there’s certain guys who should be playing better right now. There’s no question about it. It’s not any one thing. And we’ve got to coach them better. We’ve got to coach them in more detail and get them in a groove so they can hang their hat on some things. So it’s a combination of all those things.”

(on Colorado) “I think they’ll play really, really tough. I think they’ll play hard. I think, you kind of look at their scores, no matter who they play they’re used to playing tight, hard-fought games. And my hat’s really off to those guys because they really don’t care about the score. They just keep playing. They don’t care about the opponent. They just keep playing hard. Coach Mac and those guys are doing a heck of a job, they really are. All you’ve got to do is put the tape on. Because it’s hard when you’re not winning your games — that’s why we play; that’s what excites you to show up. And when you lose a couple games like we have, do you have that mojo, do you have that energy and toughness to show up and really prepare like you’ve been preparing? That’s hard to do. But you pout on Colorado’s tapes — those guys show up and they play hard.”

(on Colorado QB Sefo Liufau) “I’m still in the process of studying … but he’s a gamer. He can run, he can throw. I think he’s a true sophomore and a team captain, so he’s got the leadership things. I’m really, really impressed. He’s a little like Taylor Kelly in some ways; he really does all those type (of) things. It’s a similar type (of) offense. He’s been really, really impressive.”

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