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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 24, 2014 at 2:10 PM

UW’s Chris Petersen on his first Apple Cup, Mike Leach, the Huskies’ improved offense and more

Chris Petersen

Notes, quotes and video (above) from UW coach Chris Petersen at his weekly Monday press conference. Petersen will coach in his first Apple Cup on Saturday in Pullman (7:30 p.m., FOX Sports 1) and, yes, he has read one of Mike Leach’s book — or at least part of it.

The transcript:

(Anything derogatory to say about WSU?) “No. I do not. My first Apple Cup. I should just say nothing. … Excited to play in it, no question about it.”

(Do you build this up with the players? Make it more special?) “Does anyone not have any questions on the (Oregon State) game? We finally do something good and we’re moving right on to the next game? (laughs) Let’s go back there and get to Washington State in a minute. What have you got about the game?”

(Offense found itself a little bit lately?) “Great question (laughs). It was good. I’m proud of these guys, I really am. They played hard, they played well. I think we got better in all phases and it was good for the Senior Day and all those type of things. The guys feel good about themselves. After a lot of hard work you start to see a little dividends paid.”

(What’s Cyler doing the last couple games that’s different than before?) “He played a pretty strong game. He was seeing things correctly and quickly. I thought he threw the ball pretty accurately and there was some really good urgency in terms of getting the ball out. He hung in there and took some shots; he knew he was going to take a shot or two. All that stuff was really good in terms of how you like the game played.”

(on the O-line production with the changes) “Again, the shuffling to us wasn’t a huge deal. We may not have done it a ton in games, but we do it a decent amount in practice. So it wasn’t like starting from scratch. And last year Mike was the center and Colin was a guard, so we weren’t thinking a whole lot about it other than would it help the snap issue a little bit. So all that was good and they did a good guy covering some guys up and got a few runs.”

(What’s different about the run game now?) “So much of it is more reps and seeing a lot of different stunts and blitzes and fronts and those type of things. It’s moreso that of getting into a little bit of a…it’s the kids working hard and not going through the motions in practice and trying to get better and a little bit of everything we’ve been talking about.”

(on the Darrell Daniels touchdown) “He’s got some good speed, he really does. You saw it there. We’ve known that he can really run. It was good to have him in there. He’s been ready to go, a little banged up in the past, little sick as well. Perk got a little bit dinged in the game, so he goes in and gets to play and makes the most of it. It was a good job by our O-line protecting it; Cyler set his feet good and was able to throw back. Cyler threw the ball in there pretty good. Sometimes those plays can be wide open, the misdirection thing — and it really wasn’t. There was a guy there, and Cyler put it on him pretty good. He cut up the field and used his speed. It was nice to see. It was nice to get those big chunk plays. Not everything has to be grind it out – three, four yards.”

(What happened on Sean Mannion’s third-and-25 completion?) “We didn’t cover good enough. It wasn’t necessarily a blown coverage, other than letting them get behind us in that situation. Like I said after the game, it would have been nice to have that one back. That was the one play we’d like to have back. When you’re playing a guy that can throw the ball pretty darn good with some good receivers, they’re going to make some plays — even ones you’d like to not let them have. They had one or two other deep ones where kids made great catches and big time throws, and that stuff happens.”

(on fumbling issues. Does it eat at you?) “It eats at you pretty good. When the ball’s turned over, that’s the ultimate sin around here. Even when it comes out, we’re all very high anxiety on those things, that’s for sure. We work on ‘em every day, whether we’re trying to get ‘em or we’re trying create ‘em — whether we’re trying to hang on to the ball, it’s worked on every single day. I know this; no coach has the answer on how to get that done better, but it is something we focus on and show tape on it and actual work on the physical drill of that.”

(on red zone issues) “Just need to be more detailed, be more precise is what it is. We’d like to be able to run the ball a little bit better down there. Things get a little bit tougher down there. That’s when we need to be able to do some things, and if you can do that you might have a chance to throw it when things are tighter down there.”

(At a point where you’re pulling out all the stops looking for an answer?) “No. We’ll like things down there, and it’s not one of those things where it’s like let’s just try this and see what happens. It’s really not. It’s part of kind of some red zone things.”

(Where does your D-line rank in the Pac-12?) “That’s a good question. I think there’s some good d-lines. I think the team we’re going to play has a really good defensive line. So I have a hard time splitting hairs saying ours is the best, or the third-best. I don’t know. There’s some pretty good d-lines, some good defensive linemen in this conference. I think overall Washington State has a really, really strong offensive line, I do.”

(On Dwayne Washington taking over as primary tailback) “Well, I go back to say the same thing. He was pretty banged up, and so we were just kind of waiting for him to get healthy and be able to get him back in the mix. There’s no other position that you need a guy healthy – he’s just going to get hammered the first time he touches the ball, so if not, it’s hard to really throw a guy in there. And Lavon (Coleman) had been a little bit banged up as well, so to get both of those guys healthy helps. (Deontae) Coop’s been the guy that’s been the mainstay back there. So it’s good to get those guys back.”

(Cross paths with Mike Leach much?) “No, not a ton. A little bit. And I enjoy him. I really do. The little that I’ve been around him, I’ve really enjoyed talking to him and hearing what he has to say.”

(Read any of his books?) “I think I have. I’ve read part of it. I’ve looked through a lot of different books. It’s good stuff and accurate stuff …”

(Bill Moos ever call you about WSU’s opening a couple years back?) “No. So, Bill’s a good A.D. He really is. Had experience with him when we were at Oregon, and I was always really, really impressed with how he could move the deal forward, and he’s done that over there as well. So good guy, good A.D.”

(On Luke Falk and WSU’s offense) “It’s amazing. It really is. Redshirt freshman going in late in the season and all that – looks like he’s been playing the whole season. One thing that Mike Leach knows is quarterbacks and how to throw the ball, so those kids he recruits over there know what they need to do to fit into the system. They’ve been working that system forever. Knows the ins and outs of it, and they do a great job. It’s so unique that someone’s going to be throwing the ball that much. They’re never going to be out of games no matter what’s going on. They can get ahead in two seconds. They can come back. It’s definitely unique and he does a great job with it.”

(John Ross III and the young secondary vs. WSU. Keep you awake?) “It always does. The thing is, these guys have been playing, a lot of these guys most of the season, and John Ross has been playing a handful of games and he’s getting better every game. And so they’re going to get tested like they haven’t been tested – not only a really good system and a guy that can throw the ball real well, but really good receivers to go with it. So it’s a huge challenge, without question.”

(What makes a good quarterback for Leach’s system?) “You’d have to ask him that. He seems to know what they are. But they can all throw the ball really, really well.”

(Do you make this week about the rivalry at all?) “I think in so many ways, too, so much of that’s for the fans. That’s what I’ve kind of always experienced in these rivalry games. The fans are the ones that are so intense about this. We’re intense about the game anyway. So to say OK, now we’ve got to really play extra hard – I mean, really? Harder than we wanted to play last week? But I do think they’re fun. I think they’re fun for the universities. I think they’re good for the fans and all those type of things, but sometimes I’ve got a little bit of a hard time saying, ‘OK, now we’ve got to really go.’”

(What was the comparable rivalry at Boise State? Idaho?) “Idaho. Kind of the same thing. I remember when I first got there, like, ‘hey, if you only win one game, it’s got to be against Idaho.’ I’m thinking, ‘so you’re good if we win one game?’ They’re like, ‘Well, maybe not, but if you win one, it better be that one.’ So I get it.”

(Use the same travel itinerary as when you went to Moscow?) “Yeah. It’s pretty much all the same, whether we’re going to Arizona, over there to Pullman or whatever. It doesn’t change a whole lot even if it’s a day game to a night game or anything like that.”

(How did you educate yourself about the Apple Cup?) “I’ve paid attention to it for a long time. I don’t know all the details inside and out. I know it’s a rivalry game. I know it’s important to everybody. But like I said, all these games are really, really important to us, they really are. I know the whole rivalry thing, it does change things in terms of you always hear ‘throw out all the records,’ all that stuff, but I think there’s some truth to that. I just think things even out and crazy things happen. I know how hard they’re going to play over there. I hope we play just as hard and have a really good game.”

(on playing the WSU fight song in the weight room this week) “Well, we’ve done different stuff. We’ll do different stuff. You play 13 games during the year. I can only imagine what pro football feels like. So these guys have been grinding for a long time and haven’t had a bye in a while. So like I said, we talked about this after the game – you try new things to keep it somewhat lighthearted and these guys having fun. You go out there today for the whatever, how many Monday practices we’ve had, it’s like, ‘OK, same old, same old’ – try to figure out how to make it a little more fun.”

(on why coaches run the offensive systems they do) “I think it’s probably just kind of how you were raised. I really do. I think his (Leach’s) background probably started back in the day with Lavell (Edwards) over at BYU and they were really some of the forefront guys in throwing it. So that’s where he started. I think whether a guy is an option guy or throw it a lot or a balanced guy or run the ball, a lot of it probably has to do with how you kind of … maybe even as a player, but certainly starting your coaching career. I’m speaking for myself so I don’t really know, but I think that’s probably how it goes a lot.”

(Historically, the goal is to make an offense one-dimensional. Yet Leach has had a lot of success being one-dimensional) “Yeah. And sometimes the option teams, the triple-option, can be a little bit one-dimensional. And when they’re really good at it and know their system inside and out … What’s unique and good about it is, you don’t see many people doing this. So it’s something new that you have a week to get ready for and it’s different. And I think different is good, if it’s your own unique thing. Now what everybody’s seeing is no-huddle and spread and the spread-run game — and triple-option from the shotgun is really what it is — you see a lot of that. Oregon State’s a little more unique these days, and certainly Washington State with what you’re talking about.”

(on WSU’s run game. Do you worry about your defense falling into a lull with that?) “Yeah, I would worry about that. Because when you pay attention to (the pass) and they throw it and that’s all we’re talking about, then you watch them run the ball and it’s like, that’s a first down, that’s a big run. They do a great job of keeping you honest. If it’s just all about the pass, they will gash you with the run.”

(How closely do you watch the weather report for Saturday night?) “Not too much, but I do expect it to be really cold. If it’s not raining, it’ll probably be snowing.”

(on team’s health) “Pretty good for this late in the season. No real complaints there when you’re this late in the season. We came out of the last game fairly clean.”

(It looked like Kevin King got banged up against OSU) “Yeah, and I think he’s going to be fine. He was out there practicing today.”

(on recent history of hostile crowds in Pullman) “We haven’t talked a whole lot about that. The only thing we can do is control what we can control. Hopefully there aren’t too many snowballs they can throw.”

(on Jermaine Kelly coming back from a broken ankle and the possibility of him redshirting) “He’s been out there the last couple of weeks and he’s making progress. He won’t be ready to play this week, but he is practicing. And the bowl situation? Maybe. (The redshirt) is a hard one because he got hurt … in the second game, and he’d already redshirted not for a medical reason. So it’s tough to get that year back. It’s tough when they’re that long of an injury.”

(on Andrew Hudson’s great senior season) “And I really believe it’s because of how hard he works. I didn’t know a whole lot about him when I first got here and the fact that he was talking about going somewhere else. What I did know from what everybody had said was what a great guy he is. And he had played. And I’m thinking, ‘Why do we want that (him leaving) to happen?’ So we just talked about, hey, why don’t you hang around for spring and see what you think about us and what we think about you and go from there. After spring it was kind of like, ‘What am I missing here?’ And we were missing nothing. He hasn’t batted an eye, just in terms of his work ethic. He’s really unique (with) how hard he goes all the time and how positive he is. I don’t think we have another guy on the team, when he makes a mistake, reacts like he does. He’s very focused and into it, but he doesn’t go into the tank. He just reloads and goes. He truly does not go into the tank, and I think that’s such a unique, awesome quality to have, not only in football but in life. And I think at the end of the day, you keep practicing and competing and playing like that, good things are going to happen. And it’s great to see it happen to him, because he deserves it.”

(Do you expect to be able to get to Falk on Saturday night?) “They’re good at pass protect. That’s what they do. They throw the ball and they pass protect. So people have a hard time getting to him. Now when they throw it as much as they throw it, you hope you can get there some time, but they pass protect well. You’re going to have to mix things up and you’re going to have to try get pressure on him. If he stays back there forever, that’s too hard on the DBs.”

(Is there any discernible difference between WSU’s approach with Falk and Connor Halliday?) “I’m still in the studying process of things, and I haven’t studied a whole a lot when Connor was in there. … Our defensive staff is obviously looking at the whole picture. But, I don’t know, 600 yards is 600 yards. They seem to not miss a beat.”

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