VIDEO: Chris Petersen on Spring Ball, Day 15

Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen spoke Saturday to the press after Washington's Spring Event, held at Husky Stadium. He had plenty to talk about as UW spring ball has officially ended.

(Thank you to Christian Caple for the transcription)

(Put something on the line this time? Ezells chicken for the winners?) “Yes, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That’s on the line too. So one side’s eating better than the other. I think it’s a lot of fun. Our numbers are a little bit more than maybe sometimes in spring. That’s what it’s all about, being able to compete and have fun. It changes everything. So it was good. We were a little thin on the o-line. We couldn’t get any more guys hurt there. but we made it through.”

(Overall assessment of the spring) “I just think certain guys took the next step with their game, I do. I think spring’s kind of – it’s hard to take the next step on any one phase, whether it’s offense, defense or your special teams, because everybody gets reps, and there’s going to be some guys that don’t get any reps in the fall that are out there. so it’s one guy here and one guy there. so you really just kind of look at the individual progression. I do think there’s a lot of guys that kind of took the next step. It’ll be nice to be able to put it all together come fall. Early fall camp is kind of the same process, a lot of guys get reps and then the last 10 to 14 days you try to really hone in.”

(Anyone surprise you?) “I don’t know about surprises. I think because we expect guys to get better. so you saw that. You saw a couple of the young guys do some things. I think our defense did a nice job this spring, in general. Again, they should probably be ahead of that. I think on offense it always starts with the o-line, when you can have them all in there, and get into a rhythm. And we didn’t really have that. I think those guys have done a nice job of kind of picking up, and they improved.”

(On Jake Browning) “I thought he had a nice camp. I think he’s sharper in his decisions. I think he’s throwing it well. I think the ball’s coming off his hand nice. I think his decisions are a little sharper. A little bit shorthanded at receiver as well out there. I think we can get those guys all dialed in. I think that’ll be a good combination. I think Jake, I think he did a good job.”

(On the rest of the quarterbacks being ready) “Well, we still look at the whole group. We kind of talk about everybody’s unit. It can’t be one guy. It can’t be just Jake ready to play for us. That’s just not how it goes in college football. So we need those other quarterbacks to take the next step as well. And I think there was some improvement, but we really need those guys, somebody to step up to really push Jake and be ready to play and win for us.”

(Has Tony Rodriguez done that?) “I think Tony’s done a good job. I’m not saying he’s there and ready to push anybody. I think he has the capability. I think K.J. does, too, but I think it’s going to be very interesting what happens from here until we start in August, because now it’s really on their own and we always talk, everybody does the big things. And the big things are hard around here. So we’re assuming the big things are going to be taken care of. But who’s going to take that next step of all these little things that need to happen for those guys to really be in a position for our quarterback unit to win and win big for us.”

(Did John Ross take the next step?) “I think that he did. I think he took a step forward from where he’s been. I think John Ross has so much to him. So ‘how is John Ross doing, was John Ross’ spring really good?’ I just think he has so much more to him. did he take a step from where he was before he was injured? I think he did, but I think the sky’s the limit for that guy, and so we’re heading in the right direction.”

(Does it seem like he’s a guy Browning is looking to throw to?) “Well, I think this – I think it’s always about matchups out there, and any smart quarterback is going to find a matchup they like. If they don’t like the matchup, even if the read dictates it should go there, but they’re not feeling the matchup, they shouldn’t go there. And I think most quarterbacks are going to like a lot of matchups with John Ross on whoever.”

(On Jeff Lindquist’s move to tight end) “Jeff was a surprise. I thought Jeff did a nice job for us. Never played that position, and I’m the first to say our quarterbacks have to be as tough as anybody on that field, but it’s a different type of toughness. You’re not hitting anybody, (but) you’ve got to be able to hang in there and take a shot. All these other positions, you’ve got to be able to go after people, and that takes a while to kind of develop that mentality. And I thought he did a really good job right out of the gate of not shying away. He’s as smart as they come, so he knows the offense, but to know the tight end positions and the calls, he didn’t know any of that. So I think he took a really good step mentally, but probably as impressive as anything, he did a good job blocking. The other thing that jumped out, he showed he’s got a pretty good pair of hands. He can catch the ball. So I’m excited about his progression.”

(On how he divided the teams between Purple and White) “So what went into it to start with was, we felt like we had just enough bodies to actually play a game. Those guys, it’s offense vs. defense all year long. Basically all year long. So the one time we get to put some offensive guys and defensive guys and have them cheer for each other, it’s awesome. I mean, to hear Jimmy Lake on the sideline cheering for the quarterback and all that, I’m like, this feels weird. You’re never hearing that. So that’s what it’s all about. So we had enough bodies to do that, and then I think it was Coach Strausser and Coach Gregory, they just divided the teams up as kind of equal as we could, and let ‘em play.”

(On K.J. Carta-Samuels coming up short on the final play) “Well, I thought he was a little short. Had they been playing for real, I thought the defense was coming pretty fast, and so I don’t think he would have got it. There’s always going to be a little controversy in the games, right? We can’t put it in the officials’ hands. That’s the message coming out – don’t put it in my hands, because you’re not going to like the decision, someone’s not.”

(On the offensive line numbers being a little thin this spring) “I think our numbers are going to be fine in fall camp. But that’s a really physical position, too. You need probably 17-18 bodies going in to be able to practice how you want to practice. I don’t think we played like we need to play as a group on the o-line. I think there was individuals at times showed flashes, like, yep, that’s what it looks like. But they’ve got to play as a group. That one crew, that o-line has to play together. There was some individual skill that was developed there, but to play at the level that we need to play at with those guys, we’ve got to go, we’ve got some work to do.”

(On Jaylen Johnson establishing himself on the defensive line) “I think our d-line across the board had a good spring. There’s some really good players there, and a guy like Jaylen, he kept showing up most of the spring. You can kind of feel those guys each week getting a little bit better, and I think Jaylen was one of those guys. I’m excited for the d-line. Sometimes you get in a situation where you’ve got three or four guys, and as soon as they come out, you hold your breath a little bit that the other guys can hold up. I don’t think we’re in that situation right now. I like all those guys, and I think they can all battle and win for us, as long as they keep their edge and as long as they keep improving. Are we ready to go play right now? No, we’re not. But I think they did what we wanted them to do this spring.”

(Did you try to back off Myles Gaskin’s workload this spring?) “No, not at all. But we don’t do a lot of tackling any running backs around here. We don’t need to win spring ball. We need to get those guys assignment-sound, technique perfect, then when we get into fall camp, they’ll take the shots that they need to take to make sure we have ball security for that first game.”

(On if he feels really good about how spring went) “I don’t think I feel really good, no. I feel like we’ve made progress. I think we’re pointed in the right direction. I just know how much work has to go in and how good we have to be to compete in this conference and do what we want to do, and so I’m encouraged, and I like these guys a lot, but we have so much work to do to get to where we need to be, and so do I feel really good? No. I’ll feel really good if we get through this Pac-12 schedule down the road and we’re doing things that we’re proud of. So we’re just a long way away. We’ve just got to go back to one week at a time, these guys will come lift tomorrow, next week, they’ll get some time off, catch their breath and refresh a little bit, and we’ll get back after it.”

(On last night’s alumni event) “We had probably close to 300 former players and coaches, and it’s really awesome just to even sit back from afar and watch them. We learned long ago, you don’t need much of a program. If you’re doing a lot of introductions and put some sort of presentation together – they’re not into that. They just want to talk to each other. That’s what was going on last night. It was just really awesome to see so many guys that have done unbelievable things building this program and coming back and their excitement about the program now, and just having them around. And just watching their interaction, guys hugging like they haven’t seen each other in such a long time. It’s really pretty cool.”

(On preferring to have an actual spring game or not) “Well, we would, it’s just really hard to do that. Numbers-wise. When you divide a team, there’s always going to be a group or two that is so thin that now you’re going to play some guys that it’s like – see, if we had our druthers, we’d have a really probably good practice, as coaches, because we think we can even get some more work there. we need to do a little bit of live stuff, but again, this is such a long season for these guys. The scrimmage needs to be minimal this time of year, in our opinion. Now, they really like to do that, and we like to do that, as well. But if you have any sort of senior class, numbers-wise, they walk out, you don’t reload until the fall. That’s why it’s a little bit hard to do that. We didn’t have a lot of seniors, so we were able to do that.”

(On what’s next for everyone in the program) “The coaches hit the road here real shortly in spring recruiting. Players, they go back into the weight room and now we have all this wonderful tape. The schemes don’t change, it’s not going to change, so they can really study themselves. And they really – that’s what I’m talking about, the little stuff. We’re not with them, now. They can go in there and they can get crystal-clear on all these assignments. They should hear this stuff in the fall when we start to put it back in, like, ‘I already know this.’ Assignment-wise, at least. I should be assignment-perfect by the time we start in August. But this is a good time for these guys. They go back to work, bigger, faster, stronger. They’ll do some things on their own as a team on the field, where the leaders of this team have to emerge and kind of run those type of things.”

(On what he needed to see from John Ross to be sure he was back) “Well, I think we’ve seen it all spring. You see those flashes. That’s what I said about John Ross – he’s still learning the nuances of the wide receiver position. I think he’d probably be the first to tell you that. But he’s doing a nice job with it. I think Bush Hamdan’s done a great job with all those wideouts there. there’s guys that are using technique. We get John completely dialed in to all these little nuances with the skills that he has, he’s going to be a really hard guy to cover. But it’s nice to see him make some catches in traffic, hang onto the ball. Shows a lot of courage going over the middle. Get in and out of breaks. We know he can run fast and all those things. It’s one thing to run fast, it’s another to catch the ball and screen off defenders. He’s on the right track, we’ve just got to keep building.”

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