VIDEO: Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen talks to the media one last time before the Huskies and Utah State play Saturday

Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen spoke to the Media one last time Thursday, September 17th, before the Huskies host the Utah State Aggies Saturday at 2 pm at Husky Stadium. Petersen was asked about spying on Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton, the use of multiple right tackles in Matt James and Kaleb McGary, and how the quarterback position is fundamentally different in college than it is in the NFL.

Is Chuckie Keeton the kind of QB that requires a spy from your defense? - “It’s really hard to create a whole defense just to put a spy in. Do we have some stuff that we pay attention to a quarterback more? Yes. But you’ve got to run your defense. They’ve got a power run game, they’ve got a spread offense, they launch it down the field. So just to have a spy there — you have to pick and choose your spots. But anytime you’ve got a guy who can run the ball, those dual-threat guys, it’s really hard. You can do a great job covering guys down field and then there he goes running, first down; everybody forgets (the defense) is pretty good except for that. So he brings another element to the table.”

Do you have linebackers that could develop into that ‘spy’ role? - “We’ll find out. We’ll find out real soon. Some of those (plays), again, the line does a good job, we (could) even get a good pass rush and that’s when it could cause the most problems — there he goes. There’s just a lot of space. And we’ll just have to see how it goes and if we do have some guys that can (do that). It all looks pretty good in practice; we’ll have to see what happens when we play the game.”

What have you thought of your pass rush through the first two games? - “I think we’re making progress. I though in the Boise game, we got some pressure, but Finley did a great job of stepping up and getting out of it. So it’s that thing where we’ve got some pressure off the edges, he steps up and there’s some running lanes. It all has to work together. If one guy gets a great rush and flushes him out (and) another guy’s not where he needs to be, we’ve got a problem.”

Does that element require more creativity from you guys given how good Hau’oli Kikaha and Danny Shelton were on their own last year? - “I think the four have to work together. The guys coming off the edge have to squeeze the pocket and I think the guys coming up the middle have to push the pocket. That’s easier said than done, but that’s kind of always the idea of it.”

On Utah State’s unorthodox defense — how much of a challenge will that be for Jake Browning? - “Well, it starts with our O-line. That’s who it starts with. It’s one thing to get your assignments right and it’s another thing to actually block them when they’re bringing all these different pressures. So you might get your assignments right and a guy gets on edge. So it’s really a double whammy. We’ve seen this for awhile going back with Utah State as coaches, and it is challenging. They do a great job with it. They bring pressures from all different angles — that’s what they do. They show it from one side and bring it from another and those types of things.”

On if there’s anybody in the Pac-12 that compares defensively to Utah State “I’m trying to think from last year. There’s a couple of teams that blitz a lot, but the compliments and styles are probably different.”

 

On if Utah State is more predictable with their aggressiveness than a team like Boise State “If there’s one thing, they are going to come after you, that’s what they do. Boise, they blitz you a little bit, but that’s not really what they do. Teams are who they are. You don’t go one week and then all of a sudden we change our whole thing. These guys, they’re a disruptive, pressure defense is what they are.

 

On the importance of the running backs picking up the blitz “Very much so. They’re all in it together. It’s the five linemen and the back is usually involved as well.”

 

On if any of the backs have stood out in their ability to pick up the blitz “I think they’re all pretty good. Again, I’m kind of going from last year. All these guys have been here last year except for Myles (Gaskin), and I think he’s doing a good job learning. The big thing is pass protection can be complicated. At the running back position the run game is not too complicated for them. They’ve got to have some natural vision and there are some things we work on everyday fundamentally. Where their real thinking comes in, and they have to be sharp guys, is the pass protection thing.”

 

On the possibility of Budda Baker getting some reps on offense this week “Yeah, I mean, there’s always that chance, but again Budda (Baker) has not even been on offense and he’s already played the most reps of anybody on our team. Here we go again. He’s so valuable at the other stuff and do we have other guys that can maybe do what he does? I know he would probably like his hands on the ball, but again, I keep going back, it’s a long season. He’s already doing a ton for us.”

 

On how much Taniela Tupou has meant to this team on and off the field “I think any time you mention anybody as a team captain you already know there’s going to be a lot behind the scenes. For a guy that hasn’t played a ton of snaps, I think that always just speaks volumes of the type of person and what his teammates think of him. It’s one thing for a guy that’s your best player to be a team captain. I think sometimes guys can get away with that and make up for it on the field, but I think it really can mean a lot. I think the team captain thing means a lot anyway you cut it, but certainly for a guy that hasn’t got a ton of reps, hasn’t been a marquee guy, I think it says a lot.”

 

On if he wants separation between Kaleb McGary and Matt James at the right tackle position “I don’t think it’s important. I hope we have two young guys that keep progressing and keep developing and we have two good answers there. That’s me as the head coach. Coach Strausser might have a little bit of a different opinion on that. I keep going back to I like to play a lot of guys and you’re going to need a lot of guys. So, for me to just have one guy and say ‘this guy is clearly the guy,’ maybe that’s good because he’s playing at a high level, but I want them both playing at a high level and I want both guys getting some time.”

How does having two linemen battling it out for a spot affect the continuity and communication you’d like to see in a starting five? - “It can a little bit. It may affect guys inside a little bit more - the centers and guards - with all the fitting they are doing on every single play. Not that the guard and tackle don’t fit. I think if a guy knows what he’s doing and plays in a detailed fashion and manner, I think you can use multiple guys.”

 

Wall Street Journal quoted NFL executives as saying this latest class of quarterbacks were the most underprepared and undereducated as any they’ve seen. But college coaches talk about how advanced the quarterbacks are now coming out of high school. What’s your take on that? - “I think one thing that’s different; the college game and the pro game at the quarterback position are different. It just is. They huddle up, they take the ball from under center, which is different…I was at a camp a year ago and I was kinda helping out with the quarterbacks. I wasn’t leading the drill. One of the coaches had everybody taking a snap and they were all doing it and it just dawned on me - we had about 15 quarterbacks in there and I said, ‘How many of you guys have taken a snap under center?’ Not one guy raised his hand. And so you start with that. The second thing I think is a huge thing is - guys don’t call plays anymore. They say maybe two words to the o-line. They call plays in the NFL. What I think the college coaches have done - a lot of them - is they’ve simplified the game for that quarterback to play how it needs to be played in college. It’s a different game for the most part in the NFL in terms of how they’re directing traffic and re-directing protections and all those types of things. And when the quarterback can sit there morning, noon and night all during the week and carry that burden - that’s what they are going to do. So it’s going to be interesting to see how it goes. We’ve always been a little bit different. We put a lot on our quarterback and he does call some plays and sometimes he doesn’t. But I can see where they are coming from.”

 

How much freedom does Jake Browning have right now, only three games into his UW career? - “There’s certain things we’re definitely checking. And certain times we help him out with that. But again, our limiting factor is not our quarterback on offense; it’s really the group. How much stuff can the group handle from week to week? We know Jake’s going to be pretty solid with most of it. He spends twice as much time, three times as much time as anybody else on the entire team studying things. And that gives him…and he needs to, because it’s all driven through him on offense.”


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