VIDEO: Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen's Monday Press Conference - BYE week

Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen addressed the media during his normal Monday press conference, and even though this week is a bye week for the Huskies Petersen said they aren't treating it like much of a bye week. They know the clock is ticking to get things fixed, as a Thursday night trip to USC looms on the horizon.

Opening statement “Not a ton different to tell you the truth, some of my comments after the game and some of my first impressions. I thought our defense competed really, really well and competed very hard. We missed too many tackles. That would be the one critique that we have. I think it’s always going to be an issue in college football with all these spread offenses. Another thing that probably hurt our guys a little bit is they faced a lot of plays. I think about 92 plays, and that hurts. On offense it was real disappointing. I think we all thought we would perform better than we did and, for whatever reason, we didn’t. You turn the ball over five times; I’ve never been on a team that’s won where we turned it over five times. That’s an issue. Also, same kind of thing, just not getting into a rhythm early enough to stay on the field to convert third downs. We ran the ball fairly effective but we got behind and so we had to throw it a little bit more than we wanted to. In some ways, you look at it and you’re saying ‘how does this happen?’ We’re fumbling the ball, we’re getting a drive going, we get a guy moving when we think Dwayne (Washington) would have hit a huge run, just a lot of things like that that comes with some of that inexperience and comes with we have to coach them better.”

On Jake Browning and how he dealt with pressure coming from more than one direction “I don’t totally agree with that. I think he had pressure; I don’t think it was more than one direction. It wasn’t like it was an avalanche. There may have been on like that, but I think some of it is he’s got to get rid of the ball and I think a lot of it is we need to protect better. I do think that. I think it’s a hard dilemma for any quarterback. If he’s not feeling great about the protection and he’s been pressured a couple of times, ‘okay I feel a little bit of pressure and then I’ve got to trust that it’s going to get picked up.’ That’s a very fine line, like ‘do I hang or do I get out of here?’ We’ve got to get better at that whole thing. We’ve got to protect him better and he’s got to learn to trust it a little bit and get the ball out on time and those types of things. It’s not any one thing. It’s all of us and it’s all of our inexperience kind of showing up at one time.”

On if the sack Jake Browning took on the first drive impacted the rest of his game “I don’t know. I’d have to ask that. That’s discouraging to come right out of the gate and have something like that happen. But I will tell you this, their quarterback got hit a whole heck of a lot and he hung in there and threw some pretty nice balls. We don’t want our guy getting hit, but that’s that fine line between setting your feet and getting rid of it, not taking a sack, reloading to fight another down at second-and-10, you know, those types of things. It’s a work in progress. It’s a young quarterback that’s doing some really good things, but we can do some things to help the whole situation.”

When Browning is scrambling, is he finding backwards isn’t the best place to go, considering he can’t outrun a lot of the linemen? - “That never is.”

How do you reinforce things like stepping up in the pocket or feeling pressure coming from the sides during a rush? - “So that will come in practice. The problem is that he’s probably gotten out of a lot more than probably hasn’t, but when he doesn’t now we’re first and second and 20, those type of things. The one where he’s running and it’s a naked the end played it good - throw the ball away. It’s that simple. It’s that simple me sitting here. He can juke that guy, which he’s done a little bit and then make something happen. But those are the things that are split-second decisions that we’ve got to learn to fight another down and keep us in manageable (downs and distances). As soon as we go first and 20 because we get an offensive pass interference on a hitch play, that’s a problem. Then we go second and 20 because we take a sack on a naked…those are big problems. It’s too hard to dig yourself out.”

Jake seemed awfully critical of himself after the game; what do you do as a staff to keep him going? - “That’s why I don’t want to sit up here and nitpick this to death. The guy’s done some really good things, as we all know, and he’s going to continue to get better. I have so much respect for that guy, how hard he works, the feel that he has for the game. So when we’re discussing the game it comes back to some things there - but that’s what I love about Jake. He’s the first one to go ‘what can I do better?’. And that’s how I think it needs to be with our entire program, starting with our coaches. What can I do better to help him and help the situation? That’s why Jake’s a fun guy to coach, because he’s not going to ever point fingers. I think he’s just very honest about the whole situation. If a route wasn’t broke on time, he’s going to say, ‘why isn’t that route there?’ But he’s first and foremost going to look at himself. I think he’s got a good blend of analyzing the situation and how it needs to be. The margin for error in college football…there’s split-seconds. It’s so fast and it’s just different than he’s used to. That’s going to take a minute to get up to speed. We’ve got to play that fast and have to make those decisions at all times. And he will.”

You’ve said he’s a guy that won’t make the same mistake twice; has that shown up on tape so far? Is that proving to be accurate? - “Yeah, I think it is. I’m not going to say anybody’s not going to make the same mistake twice, because certain things can happen. I don’t know if there’s one that’s shown up again where it’s like…I mean, if he gets burned on something that’s truly his, I don’t think that’s going to happen again. But there’s little nuances between protections that would change, would he be responsible for, the o-line might be responsible for, the different looks that come at us…there’s a lot of little things. And now we’ve added some new formations or a new play or something and it’s like, oh yeah - we’re changing this route on that. That’s where we’ve got to be careful because of not only him but all the new guys we have."

Did Cal throw new things at the young offensive line that were surprising? - “Not really. I think that was the thing that was a little bit disappointing. I think Cal gave us, for the most part, what we suspected. We made some errors that we hadn’t made, assignment errors, on the previous couple games. All of a sudden it’s like, what are we doing here? Oh yeah. Those type of things.”

What’s the toughest thing to teach an offensive lineman at this level when they come in as freshmen? - “I would say probably the toughest thing is all their assignments. When you’re talking about a freshman, redshirt or not, is really getting this for the first time because there’s just a lot of assignments - from protection to the run blocking, there’s just a lot of it. And as soon as you change the front or you put a blitz in to that, and then you put a line stunt into that, the assignments continually change. That’s probably the first and foremost, if they can know their assignment 100 percent crystal clear. And then I think the second thing is, some of these guys have been playing for a while who they are going against. So now you’re got the physical-ness of the position. If they are thinking at all, and those things get on ‘em so fast it’s really hard. And then the third thing is is to get them fundamentally and technically sound. Some of that shows up. He’s doing the right thing, he knows what he’s doing - but our hand placement is completely wrong and how we’re going to use our hands, and those type of things.”

And you’re seeing that right now with the guys you’re using? - “Yeah. Again, I think it’s all of us. It’s at every position. We can go on to our receivers, the tight ends at the line of scrimmage. These nine guys are good, but this guy right here…It’s all fun and games to talk about these young guys and we’re playing all these young guys and they are critical and look how this is going to be in the future and all…the future’s now. That’s the painful thing about this is we’ve got to get this right now. But, being realistic, when you play that many young guys you’re going to have some tough growing pains with this. And that’s what makes it hard, I think. They care. They are trying to get it right. You can see the look on their face. You can see how hard they are working during the week, but it is going to take a little bit of time.”

Because of that, is this BYE week back to basics? - “I think we do that every bye week. There’s certain guys where you try to get healed up, but in general you’re trying to get better for sure. You’re trying first and foremost to make yourself better. Maybe you get a little more of a look at your opponent. We don’t feel like at this time it’s like, let’s catch our breath. We understand. We’re under pressure with the clock. We only have so much time with these kids. How do we get them refreshed here after a really hard two months of fall camp and these first games? So letting them refresh there, but also with all the work that we’ve got to do to get better.”

Seemed like the lack of rhythm was exacerbated by long reviews. Any solutions to that? - “It’s easy for me to sit up here and have all these answers, but I’ve kind of felt like that for the last couple years that there’s no way around this TV. They pay they bills. But it’s really frustrating with all the tv timeouts. Then you come with some of these reviews. I think we review too many things. Every play is reviewed. Now how about this? The one time they don’t review because they go fast I have to call a time out. Then they review it and change…so it’s frustrating in so many different ways, from our play to how the game kind of went.”

Did you get an explanation on the short kickoffs and the fair catches called? - “So we’re trying to get the official official rule, but what they told us was, we had a guy stick his hand in the air. That’s our signal for a sky kick. The ball’s going up. It’s nowhere near the guy where it is. And that’s what they were…it’s the first time it’s ever come up in however many years of doing this. But if that’s what it is, we’ll change our mechanics.”

Get an explanation on review of Goff/Littleton fumble? - “I didn’t. I figured they were reviewing for the fumble, and it came back no fumble.”

On Cal’s guard tapping the center to initiate the snap - “A lot of teams will use that a little bit. Why they do it is, the center usually has a lot of calls to make. So when the center’s looking through his legs, things can change. So they let the center make all the calls, and the guard’s the guy that makes sure, OK, the quarterback’s ready, tap, we’re ready to play. We’ve used that.”

Any positives? - “I thought our defense, like I said, played really well. Thought they played hard. I think all of our guys played hard, but I think how our defense played, having to face that many plays against that really good offense, I thought they really played well enough for us to win. So I thought that was real positive. I thought on special-teams, I thought we were good. We were fine on special teams. We’re always trying to get an advantage. I don’t know if we really did. I thought those guys moved the ball around on their kickoff team. I mean, they used everything, from deep kick, to short kick, to sky kick, to squib kick, to in-between pooch and line drive kick, and those are really tough to handle. We really have to spend time on them. And I thought our guys handled that flawless. I thought they did a good job there, because there’s more to it than maybe just meets the eye from sitting in the stands. So I thought those were positives.”

On working on tackling more during bye week - “We will always work on tackling. Even if it doesn’t look like it’s showing up there, we will work on that, morning, noon and night, somehow, some way. The best way to work on tackling is to practice it live. Can you do a lot of that? No. but I do think we can improve still from a lot of these different drills that will carry over. It’s got to come from major emphasis every single day. We’ll continue to do that.”

Usually you work with young guys more during bye week, but you guys already play so many young guys – does that focus change? - “That’s what it is. We’re working with them anyway, so let’s practice as usual. I mean, trust me, we’re going back right now and looking at everything we’ve done the first four games. It starts with us. How do we coach them better? What are we missing here that’s not clean enough? Are we missing something? So we’re in the process of doing that. So even the young guys that we do have that are maybe redshirting, not playing a lot, we still work with those guys, get a little bit of extra time on Sundays. That’s a practice day for us, so we do some things there. But for the most part, during the week of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, there are so many young guys, that’s what we’re doing anyway. We try to make sure we’re working with all guys, even guys that are working scout, scout guys, at least once a week pretty good.”

On this being a shorter bye week because of the Thursday game at USC - “It’s not going to be short to us. We’ll just readjust our days. So we’ll have our normal work week, it just starts like on Saturday or Sunday, I believe, so we’ll get a couple extra practices here. So there might be a little more fundamental work for everybody that those guys will all be involved with. There might be a period or two of just all the young guys, the young guys that aren’t playing, on Sunday. But for the most part, we’ve got to get the guys that are playing better.”

What does that Sunday practice entail? - “It’s a fundamental – it’s a correct and review from the game. That’s what we like about it. We can’t show this stuff on tape and think they’ve now made the correction. That just doesn’t happen. That just explains what it was. It’s got to be done on the field. So we take it to the field and we go through that again. It usually starts in an individual period, that mistake, and we’ll take it to the group period and try to correct it there. So we try to do everything we can do so we don’t repeat it again. So that’s what Sunday is – it’s fundamental, it’s correct and review, it’s work with the guys that aren’t playing a whole lot. It’s not a super long practice, but we certainly don’t want to waste a day, or why would we even go out there?”

On trying to get the offense rolling in general - “I think that’s a really hard, difficult question. That’s what we discuss every time – what are the best plays to give us success? What are they most comfortable with? And so that’s what we’re always doing. It was disappointing, I think, to everybody – we’re trying to put our best stuff out there. We think it’s got a pretty good chance and it seems to not go. And then we kind of get into a rhythm and those type of things. We try to start practice pretty fast with certain types of drills. Everything that you guys are probably thinking, we’re thinking the same thing, and we’re addressing it and trying to figure this out as we go.

As a staff, how do you more broadly look at the offense and try to build some momentum? - “I think that’s really hard, difficult question. That’s what we discuss every time: ‘What are the best plays to give us a little success? What are they most comfortable with?’ So that’s what we’re always doing. It is disappointing to everybody; we’re trying to put our best stuff out there. We think it’s got a pretty good chance and then it seems to not go. … We try to start practice pretty fast with some certain types of drills. Everything you guys are probably thinking, we’re thinking the same thing and we’re addressing it and trying to figure this out as we go."

Have you been pleased with the offense when it goes up-tempo? - “Yeah. I think it has been (good). There’s some stuff that hasn’t been good when we’ve tried to reload quick. Again, I think it’s a balance. I think it comes down to execution. I think defenses are pretty good about getting lined up quickly. They see that the majority of the time. What they don’t see is someone going super slow. And so I think it’s all about mixing and matching some of those types of things. But, for us, it just comes down to execution: What gives our guys the best chance to execute?”

When you took the job at UW, did you have a conversation with Sarkisian about the people, the place, the players here? - “I talked to some people. I didn’t talk to Coach Sark about that. But I talked to some other people that I knew and those types of things.”

Have you had much dialogue with Sark? - “I’ve talked to him a couple different times at some of the coaches’ functions. Not necessarily about what’s the detail of what’s going on here or anything like that.”

Did you get any impression of who he was as a coach based on being around some of the players here in the program and how they did things? - “I know he’s a good football coach. I know that. I know he’s been with some very good people. … I have a lot of respect for where he got this program and where he got it to. And everybody’s got their different way of doing things. So my hat’s off to those guys. And not just to Coach Sark. I think so often it always comes back to the head coach. You guys are talking to me like — and I think about this when it goes good, like I got all the answers. The staffs are so important. And he’s got a good football staff with him, and I think I’ve got a good football staff that’s been with me for awhile. I’ve known that, and like I’ve said everywhere he’s got he’s done a pretty good job. And I think you saw a pretty good job on Saturday by how those guys played (in USC’s rout of Arizona State).”

Any early thoughts on USC? - “We haven’t studied them yet. But I know who they’ve recruited … and, yeah, they’ve got some guys. I know that.”

On progress of team beyond wins and losses - “I will tell you this: I think our defense has done a pretty good job up to this point. I think those guys have really played at a good level. I think on offense, it’s been two steps forward and maybe a step backward, which is probably realistic for the situation. I don’t think we’re ever going to be good with that; I know we aren’t. We’re just going to keep pushing and just try to stay as positive as we can with it. We really like the kids. I mean, you know when guys are ‘in’ and really trying to do this the right way, and it is. I know we’ll improve. I do know that. I think our schedule continually gets harder as we go and so we have to improve to give us a fighting chance.”

With the bye week, do you guys peak ahead at all to scout beyond USC? - “Beyond USC? Probably not beyond. I still think it’s about us. It’s about our next opponent. We go back at look at the four games — it’s about us, getting this right and executing with more detail. That’s what it is.”

Now that you’re well into your second year here, looking back how difficult the transition to UW was — do you feel good now about the ‘buy in’ and the cultural things? Are you where you want to be with that stuff? - “I do. I think if we had a little more experience. If the senior class (last year) wouldn’t have been so big and lost so many of those guys, I think it’d be a little different as well. Like I’ve said, I think talent is experience plus ability. And I think we have some pretty good ability. I really do. I think from the guys that have been here a little while, to the new guys, there’s some good ability here. But to get that true talent the way I kind of see it, it comes with experience. There’s not substitute for that. It just shows up. And so we’ll get there. It can be really hard. As you build a program — and it is cyclical; sometimes you have those big classes and sometimes you have the small class. And sometimes when you have the small class you’re kind of liking that. But that can get you down the road; you’d like to have that balance across the board in all your classes, so when you lose guys the next guys, they’ve been here awhile; they get it. We need more of those guys — Tani (Tupou) and Sifa (Tufunga), guys that you may not have heard a lot (about), but all of a sudden now they’re pretty experienced, jus because they’ve been here and they’ve been around. Those types of guys are really important.”


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