VIDEO: Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen Thursday Briefing - Stanford Cardinal

Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen briefed the media Thursday ahead of the Huskies' Saturday night game against Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. Petersen was asked about freshman quarterback Jake Browning, as well as the unique challenge the Cardinal present on both sides of the ball.

How did Jake do? “He did well. We’re day-to-day with everybody.”

How did he respond emotionally to the Oregon defeat? “That’s one of the things we like best about him is his mental makeup. He’s a very tough competitor. He handles things, to me, like they should be handled. He analyzes himself as much as he can and what he can do differently. Sometimes his best play throwing the ball is to the bleachers, and sometimes it’s running, and sometimes it’s setting his feet better. He does a great job of analyzing how he needs to take the next step and takes ownership of playing that position.”

For your staff, what was the biggest detail when you did your self-scout coming out of that game? “It’s not one detail; it’s a bunch of different things. We have to get more detailed across the board. We’re playing all these good teams, and so it’s going to come down to just the details. That’s the bottom line. It comes down to the details of pass protection and running the ball and tackling better and sticking to our man when the quarterback scrambles and all those little things. You can play a pretty solid game, but it’s going to come down to who executes the details a little bit better a lot of times down the stretch.”

Do you have an idea if Jake’s going to play? “We have a little bit of an idea, yeah, of what we’re going to do. Like I said, everybody’s day-to-day.”

Does the scout look improve or change this week for you considering the type of offense you’ll be seeing? “Stanford is…we do a lot of good-on-good. We practice against each other as much as we can. We do some scout work. When you get an offense that is pretty unique, which now Stanford is, then you do a little more scout work. We always prefer to do good-on-good. You do what you do on defense and offense you do what you do and you seem to get faster, more quality reps. But with these guys you have to do a little more scout work to show the defense these different sets and big linemen sets and all those things.”

Is the defense built more to handle a smash-mouth team over a spread team? “I don’t know about that. Most defenses are built for the spread these days because that’s what we see so much. I would hope that the d-line and our defense would welcome that type of opportunity, just because it’s a physical game. If they’re not wanting to play that we’re going to be in trouble. Everybody knows this; Stanford is as good as anybody out there in terms of their lines. They are physical and they are playing as good as anybody in the country right now.”

What makes their defense so solid? - “They make you earn everything. It’s kind of a typical Stanford team in terms of both sides of the ball. They are going to do their thing correctly, wait for someone else to get out of their gap or turn the ball over. They are very good pass rushers; they rush hard. They have really good line games, those type of things. There’s a couple things - they really know what they’re doing and they play hard. Everybody tries to pride themselves on that, but I think there’s some teams that do it better than others and Stanford’s one of those teams.”

On kick coverage versus Christian McCaffrey “I think it always starts with kind of kick placement. If we’re kicking balls that are not hung up in the air, it doesn’t give our guys a chance to cover to get down there. and then guys are going to have to get off blocks. I mean, he’s really good – he’s one of those unique returners that he doesn’t just catch the ball and run in there blind and hope he hits a seam. You can tell he’s very patient. He’s trying to see where that seam is developing and there’s not a lot of kick returners out there that do that, and you can see that on tape. That’s why he’s so good.”

How is Travis Feeney? “Travis Feeney is day to day. It’s just that part of the season where we’ve got a lot of guys that have played a lot of reps, and they’re going to take some bumps and bruises. At this point, those guys are all going and we’ll see what happens.”

How did Psalm Wooching do in his place? “I will say this – Psalm, he’s improved. He’s improved every game, every week. even from where he was in the fall. So he gets more and more reps. And that’s what happens when you get … to the middle of the season. A lot of those guys that are backups that maybe didn’t get quite as much early on, they’re going to get a lot more. And it’s not just at that position. It’s at a lot of positions."

The general thought on your defense seems to be that people wonder how you got better despite losing all the NFL talent. Do you have a sense of one or two things you notice on tape that make you say, ‘we’ve improved here, we’re doing this better?’ - “I think one thing is, I think there’s some pretty good players. You always start with that. There’s some pretty good – maybe some underrated guys, because those other guys, Timu and Shaq and Danny and all those guys took all the reps, and Hau’oli. So those other guys didn’t get a ton of reps, but they did get some game reps and they practiced their tail off, so I think there’s some pretty good talent there. and the second thing is, I think they’ve been all in, and they’ve really been working their tail off at practice. I think that’s one of the more impressive things, is you watch how hard they practice. they’re out there and a lot of times, those are physical practices, and we’ve got to be careful, we’ve got to be smart, because it is a long season. But there’s no way really to continue to build skill if you can’t go hard out there, and I think that’s what those defensive guys have done.”

The secondary probably has something to do with that, too, going from uncertainty last season to a strength now “When Budda (Baker) plays a full season, and Sidney Jones plays a full season and Darren Gardenhire got some time and Kevin King was on the field a decent amount at safety, and moving those guys around – all those reps really matter. And those guys have taken their game to the next step as well. We’re still looking for that each game. The thing that’s so interesting about defense, you can play 70 really good snaps and five somebody breaks down, and that’s 35 points, and all of a sudden it looks like you’re not playing good defense. So that’s what’s so hard to play championship-quality defense. If we can keep staying on point and not lose our focus, that’s what we’ll need.”

On UW pushing Stanford academically and recruiting to that “I will tell you this – it’s a little bit of our OKG philosophy. First and foremost, these guys have to be really, really elite players, or we’re not going to recruit them. But secondly, they need to be really good dudes, is what we say. And part of that is character rmakeup, but a huge chunk of that is their academic makeup. And we want to make sure without a doubt that they’re serious about it, that their family’s serious about it. We’re not here to – I think this university is too good for us to bring someone in and have to chase them around to make academics important to them. So we’re always looking for guys that fit that mold, and I think we’ve done a good job of that. And the guys have really bought in and they’re all about the education as well."

On if there is a defining quality about this team that allows them to show up strong on the road “Well we’ll find out. I think each week you’ve got a different challenge. I will say this; Stanford is as good as anyone I’ve seen. We’ve got our hands full here. I think it’s going to be easier for me to answer that question after the game and see how we really respond. Stanford is unique because they’re such a physical team. I think everybody likes to pride themselves on that, but we’ll see. We know Stanford is and we’ll see how we can respond on the road, night game, on grass, different style, a lot of different things that are coming through that and so we’ll find out after this game."

On if there are any similarities that can be drawn between traveling to USC and winning there “All those things right there, hopefully they carry over and we put another performance back-to-back.”

On if he agrees with Rich Rodriguez saying he dislikes late games, especially on the road “Absolutely. I don’t like them at home. The fans don’t like them at home. Everybody wants to play in the day. Now, it is what it is with the TV schedule, so we just deal with it. But I think everybody wants to play in the day. I think the fans want us to be in the day, the players want to be in the day, and coaches want to be in the day. And then we’ll get home 3:304:00 in the morning from Stanford. We’re getting up the next day trying to practice. Those kids have got to get some rest. They’ve got to get on their homework. It stresses them.” 

On if there is a proposal to limit night games “I like how you’re thinking. I haven’t heard that, but I hope they take a look at it.  It’s hard. You’re playing so late at night. I think everybody enjoys to play, but I think for a lot of different reasons we would like to play in the day.”

On an update on Jake Browning “Everybody is day-to-day. He’ll be there. He’s been out at practice. He’s thrown some balls, all those types of things. We’ll figure it out at game time.”

On Jake Browning’s ability to pooch punt “He’s been okay. He’s been okay. Yeah. I don’t think it’s really a difficult thing, but it seems sometimes we make it that. He’s done a nice job getting it down there.”

On why he punts with his left foot “He’s left-footed. I think he actually writes left-handed if I’m not mistaken. He can do it all.”


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