UW coach Chris Petersen, in this video clip from TicketCity Cactus Bowl’s media day this morning in Scottsdale, Ariz., talks about Shaq Thompson and preparing for a bowl game after a five-week layoff:
And here’s a partial transcript from Petersen’s 30-minute availability, courtesy of the Cactus Bowl:
Moderator: We will have some opening remarks from Coach Petersen and then we will open it up to questions.
Petersen: Thank you. Really appreciate being here. We’ve had a really good week. We’ve had a good couple weeks of preparation. Come over here four, five days ago, beautiful weather. Today we get a little of our hometown weather, we appreciate that. The players like to be out in a little bit of mist, but I’m sure it will clear up.
We’re excited to play Oklahoma State. We have tremendous respect for those guys. You get a chance in these bowl games to see all their games, really study them. The more you study somebody, the more you really appreciate what they’re doing, all the good work, hard work they put together. But we’re getting to that point where it’s time to play. I know our players are itchy to play. In two days we get to go do that. With that being said, any questions.
On practices this week:
Petersen: I’m really proud of our players. They’ve done a great job. This is a Thursday‑type day for us, Thursday‑type practice. We’ve kind of gone through the week since we’ve been here and they’ve practiced really hard. Really been focused. We’ve kind of been in the morning. They’ve gone out, hung out. Some guys have been in the pool, different restaurants, those type of things. It’s been good. To me it’s the way a bowl game should be approached. I’m proud of our players for how they’ve handled it.
Just as a fan, what position do you enjoy watching Shaq Thompson play the most?
Petersen: Shaq seems to show up and make plays wherever he is. That’s where I really enjoy watching him and guys play.On the offensive side, you can see him show up when you just give the guy the ball. The one position he’s played a new snaps at is safety. I’m not sure if that’s not his best position. I think he’s very unique. I haven’t seen a guy like that in a long time.
He talked about coming in as freshman, played linebacker position, didn’t know what he was doing, just out there. How have you seen him evolve this last year as a linebacker technically?
Petersen: I think those things technically and fundamentally, they’re little detail things, hard for the average fan to see, but as a coach you can see, OK, that was pretty good.
When guys play with true fundamentals, Bob Gregory has done a really good job with him in terms of those types of things. I think that’s why you saw him show up, not only as linebacker, but on our special teams as well. That’s linebacker in space is all that is.
If he were to play safety, how do you think he would play?
Petersen: I think he would be that hybrid guy. He was so new to the college game, all that. A lot of times those safeties, they double as linebackers, they drop down out of the secondary. They end up being like that outside linebacker right there. He’s got the speed and agility to play in the secondary. He already plays linebacker. That may be his best position in the long run.
Shaq said he came up to you pretty soon after you became coach and asked to switch to running back.
Petersen: Yeah, those guys like to talk a lot and say a lot of things (smiling). Shaq to me, his best position might be running back. I don’t know. I think in his heart, he sees himself as a defensive player. He’s got the skills to really play whatever side he wants to. I learned long ago you have to put guys where their heart is. When we did move him over there, we got in injury trouble. He did a great job for us those two games, but I think he was itching to get back on the other side.
When you put him there, do you think he was nervous?
Petersen: I don’t think he was nervous. I think he ran hard, it was explosive. After doing it for a couple weeks, he’s so ingrained on that defensive side, that’s his comfort level. I think he was anxious to get back over there when the guys got healthy.
You gave him 61 carries.
Have you had a player that you’ve used more than that in the past?
Petersen: You know, probably not like we use Shaq now, no. I will say this. We switched John Ross over, our wide receiver. He played the last four or five games as a starting corner for us. Done that a little bit with him. If guys have the skills, we use them all over.