VIDEO: Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen Wednesday Briefing - Apple Cup

Chris Petersen met with the media Wednesday one last time before the Washington Huskies and No. 20 Washington State Cougars square off in the 108th Apple Cup Friday at 12:30 pm.

How do you guys celebrate Thanksgiving? “We have a lot of families rolling in right now. We have a nice luau tonight going on. After practice tomorrow we’ll have some Thanksgiving late brunch with them and then we go to the hotel with them later on, so we’re with them quite a bit.”

Get some time with their families? “Yeah. We practice in the morning and they’re going to have all that time before we go to the hotel in the evening. So they’ll definitely get their time and I think everybody’s excited about people rolling in.”

Anything with the luau you’re excited about? “I just think these kids are enjoyable to be around and this will be a nice setting for those guys. Excited for it.”

Where is the reward for you so far this season? “Probably the thing we’re most pleased with is they’ve never really backed away. They’ve showed up every day to go to work. Nobody’s felt sorry for themselves or anything like that. Each game - somehow, some way you can see some progress being made. I think that’s the most pleasing thing.”

What do you remember most from last year’s Apple Cup? “I think the number one thing that jumps in my mind…I don’t think I’ve been colder in my entire life. Not even in Boise. But really, how our guys played and responded. That was a cold game and I don’t know if any of the players had ever been in a game where it was that cold, and they just went out and played. And they played really, really well. That was encouraging to see.”

How have they bounced back this week in practice? “It was good. You really never know until you get to the field. Sometimes it’s better than you think and sometimes not as much. But I thought the preparation was very solid.”

Have you notice a unique energy this week compared to other weeks? “There’s definitely a different energy. One thing I’ve kind of learned is, I want every practice to be game-type intensity, and sometimes that’s a little unrealistic. We need to make sure we show up and play our best in that game with our best focus, our best energy, and not have left it on the practice field. So I think these guys had a nice balance of focusing in and in a couple days it’s time to go play with the most focused we’ve been and the most energy as we’ve had.”

Were Dwayne Washington and Travis Feeney able to practice this week? “Everybody’s day-to-day now. What have we got? Two days? So they’re all day-to-day and we’ll see in two days.”

Did you play in the Turkey Bowl growing up? “Absolutely. It’s been a while since I’ve been there but there’s no question about it. Back in those days we had to get the video recorder with the cassette tape to tape the game if we were going to go outside because I didn’t want to miss the Thanksgiving (game). Usually it was the Lions and somebody…something like that. So now it’s even easier; you just press the remote, one button, and go play your Turkey Bowl and come back and watch good football.”

Different here playing a rivalry game compared to when you were at Boise State? “I think the rivalries are similar. When you’ve been doing this long enough, they are similar everywhere. I don’t think you can underestimate the rivalry. Everywhere they are pretty intense and pretty important to people that are involved with them. I think that’s why everybody likes the week of the rivalry.”

Sounds like you’ve embraced that aspect of the rivalry “One reason that it’s not overly different to us inside the building is because I do think these kids prepare pretty hard every week. If all of a sudden it was different we’d be looking and saying where has this been? But I think they’ve prepared pretty well. Like I’ve been saying, you feel it from the outside. You feel it from the people around the programs and how important it is.”

On WSU’s run game and WSU’s defense, which don’t get as much publicity “I think those two things, you hit the nail on the head. Last week I think they ran the ball for 10 yards a pop — if we could do that, we’d be extremely pleased with ourselves. SO that’s kind of overlooked. I don’t want to say that’s a deceptive part, because that’s what they’re doing these days. And everyone’s so concerned with the pass game — which you have to be when they have the No. 1 passing team in the country — and if you don’t stop that run game all of a sudden you’re really on your heels. And secondly, I think this defense is playing at a really high level. I’ve said all along, this defensive line is extremely disruptive, and for whatever reason everybody always talks about offenses and in Washington State’s case rightly so; but their defense is really good. And I think this team is playing as well as anyone in our conference right now.”

Sounds like your guys were made aware of some of the WSU players’ comments this week. Can that sort of bulletin-board material mean anything in a week like this? “I don’t really think any of that stuff really matters because everyone understands how important this game is anyway. I don’t think it’s going to be anything like getting either team excited to play. It’s probably (more about) getting teams to focus in and play with precision and those types of things.”

Clearly you don’t want your guys out talking and saying things this week … “I want our guys focused. Whatever focuses them the most, that’s what we need to do.”

Sacks are important, but also disrupting the timing of WSU’s passing game “Absolutely. You gotta get pressure on their passer or it’s an extremely long day. One of the things they do well is their passers have a great feel of when to sit in the pocket and when to get rid of the ball. I think that’s a strength of their offense, and I think any time you can say that about your offense to your quarterback, you’re going to be doing really good things. Somehow we do have to get there, but that’s what they do well, so we’ve got to somehow get there.”

On WSU’s system with the quarterbacks — notice any differences between Falk and Bender “I don’t want to underestimate that these are really good quarterbacks. These guys get the ball out (quickly); they’re accurate throwers. When I’ve seen Bender play, you’re thinking, ‘OK, here we go.’ But no, here we don’t go — here they go. He’s got very good mechanics; the ball comes out on time; he throws accurately. So that’s been kind of a trademark of Coach Leach. Sometimes you say a ‘system’ or whatever like it detracts from a really good quarterback, and I think it’s like a huge compliment that they’ve got a good system — you gotta start with that. But there’s a lot of good systems; if you don’t have great players (it doesn’t matter). And I think those quarterbacks are good. And I haven’t seen enough of Bender to say, Oh, he’s significantly different, you know. They run their offense, which is good coaching. They’ve got those guys dialed in and they’re productive with whoever’s in there.”

Obviously not much film of Bender — do you guys try to go way back and track down film of him? “No. Because again, they’re not going to change their system. He’s going to run the same plays. So again it comes back to us, covering their receivers, trying to get some pressure on the quarterback and tackling well.”


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