The Huskies arrived in Arizona today to kick off the TicketCity Cactus Bowl week. Here are comments from UW coach Chris Petersen upon the team’s arrival in Phoenix, courtesy of the Valley of the Sun Bowl Foundation (which also hosts the Fiesta Bowl).
(Opening) “Thank you guys. It’s good to see all of the Yellow Coats again (worn by the bowls’ hosts). I’ve had a lot of experience with you guys in the past and you do the best job in college football that I’ve been around and I’ve been to a lot of places.
“We’re looking forward to this week and your hospitality. Excited to get back and get with our players to day. We’ve had a good couple weeks preparation and then a long six day break, so now we have to get back into game mode very quickly, and we’re excited to do that. We had a handful of guys who came with us on the charter and the rest of the team is flying in as we speak, so we’ll get out there a little bit later today and get exercising, get our minds going again and thinking about our exciting game coming up in a handful of days.
“We are very, very excited to be here. When we were looking at the different bowl possibilities, this is the one that we had our sights on and we’re hoping for. We had our fingers crossed and sure enough here we are. We appreciate you guys bringing the weather in for us, as long as it stays like this we’re great. No change in temperature, no wind, no rain… we can take all that, we’re from Washington, so I’m just kidding. On behalf of all the Washington Huskies, thank you for having us from the bottom of my heart, we’re excited to be there.”
(On the effect of the travel and the layoff) “It’ll be interesting. I haven’t experienced anything like this, other than a short break over Christmas, where we’ve taken a six-day break. But we really had to do that because we had to give them time off to get rested and refreshed and recharged.
“When we play this game on Friday, we’ll be back to school on Monday, so we really needed this time off. It’ll be interesting; we’re excited and we had a good couple weeks of game preparation, but this week’s preparation will be key in terms of how we play.”
(On the significance of this bowl game) “We always set a handful of goals every year and usually at the top of our goal pyramid is to win a bowl game. I think it’s very important for the seniors to go out with a win and a good taste in their mouth, especially with everything they’ve been through. But I think it’s that way for seniors across the country. This college football thing never really turns out the way exactly like they think it’s going to be, it’s usually a lot harder, but it’s usually a really, really good experience. If they can win their last game, I think that’s important for them and I think it’s important to set the stage for the younger guys going forward.”
(On how his past experience in the Fiesta Bowl will help prepare him for this week) “The trick to a lot of these bowl games for the players, and certainly for the coaches as well, is that this is game week to us, so we have to first and foremost prioritize our preparation. We need to get in (watching) tape and get in practice, and then after that, enjoy the festivities associated with it. That’s the same for our players: we want them to enjoy this experience; they’ve worked hard and earned this and need to enjoy this, but it’s hard because we’re not necessarily here on vacation, we’re here to enjoy the experience, but also to put some work in and play a game, and that’s a fine balance.”
(On the improvement in the offense) “The last third of the season, we’ve been making progress as a team offensively. I think Cyler Miles has settled in pretty good and he’s done a good job protecting the football and not turning it over. He’s been making good decisions in terms of when to tuck it and when to run.
“Like always, we’re always trying in that next game to play our very best game and in each of the last three games we’ve played, we’ve gotten better every game. With this time off, it’ll be interesting to see if we can get our rhythm back, because we felt like we were in a good team rhythm at the end. We were in a good practice rhythm, we were playing well, we broke it up with some time off and here we go again.”
(On the top priority for his team in facing Oklahoma State) “We always first and foremost focus on ourselves, that really never changes; this is just another game to us. Oklahoma State has some very talented players and runs some great schemes. You’re always putting the tape on hoping to see something like, ‘oh okay we got these guys, we like what we see.’ Most of the time though, we don’t like what we see. They have some very good and fast players, they’re athletic. Coach Gundy does a great job with that program.
“One of the things with having this much time off though is the tackling, which is a key in these games. Sometimes you’ll see some spotty tackling because you’ve had all this time off and coaches are nervous about it because the only way to get better tackling is to do it live and do it in scrimmage, neither of which we were going to do right before we play. So you have to adjust quickly on the run and sometimes you’ll watch the bowl games and you’ll either see the poor tackling show up and it’s an issue, but sometimes you’ll see some good tackling that I’m extremely proud of at this point of the season when you see that.”
— UW Football (@UW_Football) December 29, 2014