DawgmanRadio: Petersen at Pac-12 Media Day

Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen spoke for 25 minutes Friday at the Pac-12 Media Days, held in Los Angeles. He talked about managing expectations, debunking the hype, Jeff Tedford, Jake Browning, the Huskies' defense, and much more.

To listen to the full 25-minute press conference, click on the above video link. 

Below are selected quotes from the press conference. 

On defusing the pre-season hype - “I think the pre-season hype…I’ve been like that my whole life as a coach. Last year the pre-season hype was that we wouldn’t win four games, and they were dead wrong. I’m really scared that you guys are dead wrong again, because you usually are. That’s why I put no stock in it. We’re into rankings…we’re into post-season rankings. I’m a voter on the top-25 football teams, and it’s a complete waste of time and a crap shoot for the first five weeks. I don’t know, and I study this stuff all the time. I don’t know who is good, the teams change all so dramatically. Let us play games. And I get it that it’s important for college football and it’s fun for the fans, but in terms of what’s really going on and being said, I mean it would be nice if we could actually do something before somebody said something really nice or really bad about us.”

Similar to how you had to manage it at BSU? - “What’s different is, we won at Boise. We have’t won like we need to win. I get Stanford being ranked. They’ve won a lot. I get UCLA being up there, they’ve won a lot. We feel good about our guys. We love coaching them. They are a very focused group and all those things but we just have a lot to prove. Who knows how it’s going to go and I think our guys understand that as well. It’s just such a fickle world that we live in. Since December I’ve been so pleased with how great we’ve gotten every week with no football. We come in, another good week guys! It just is what it is.”

Would it help if there weren’t any rankings until October? - “You’d be given a lot better information, you know that. For you guys it’s fun and keeps people interested and all that. If you want really good information, certainly from the coaches - I feel awkward voting at that time because here I am a coach and here’s the information I really don’t have any clue about.”

Any sense of vindication that your team is now established? - “There’s no vindication. Vindication will be at the end of the year if we get better, if we improve - all the things we know we’re hoping to improve upon. I think it’s always about, is this team playing as close to their potential as we feel it has and are we improving every week? If you can say yes to those two questions, which I think are really big and hard questions, you can feel pretty good about yourself. The results will take care of themselves.”

On bringing Jeff Tedford on as consultant - “He can’t coach any other players. He can be in all our meetings. He can look at tape, we can talk to him. We have as many conversations and all that type of stuff. What prompted it is, he wanted to get back into college football. There wasn’t an opportunity out there for him this year making him a head coach or some other position like that. He knows a lot of guys on our staff and really that’s what this thing is all about is being around people you want to be around. Both sides wanted to be around each other and he’s obviously a good coach with a lot of knowledge and he’s done a lot of things. We feel really fortunate to get a guy like that to be with us.”

Would you consider him for a full-time coaching spot if it came available? - “We’re not even there. The great thing about him…he’s not here at Washington to get a job from us. He’d be the first to tell you that. He gets it. And he gets how a guy like that can come and upset the apple cart in terms of what his role is and all that. There’s a lot of coaches with his stature out there that maybe you could get to come aboard if they didn’t have something going, and I wouldn’t do that with a lot of people. But I know what Jeff’s all about and I know where his heart is. He’s truly in it for being around us and helping us and not trying to…he’s not thinking about a job at Washington at all. He’s just thinking about being part of our deal and his role.”

On Jonathan Smith only receiving a one-year rollover - “It has nothing to do with (Tedford). We’re lucky that this happened. It just happened.”

What’s the biggest change to today from when you took over at UW? - “I’d say the biggest difference, and this is like a vague thing to say but for me in terms of our program it just feels better for our coaches. And I think it feels better for our players. It just takes a long time for everybody to get on the same page and believing the same things. I think our team is more unified as our team gets to know each other. We do a lot of things in terms of those activities and team-building, for lack of a better word. I think those kids really like each other and feel for each other. I think they get the coaches. I think there’s good connections with the coaches. And then just really how we operate. All those thing…it’s always a work in progress but they take a long time. It’s like you come there and you try and do all these different things and how you run a program and what your culture is about and you have a meeting and you can’t just say okay, this is what we are. It’s like putting a play in one time and saying, are we good? Is this going to work? That’s where we are. We’ve just been working through that stuff and it just feels…I think we’ve got a lot of good kids that are really focused and are good teammates and really want to compete hard. I think all that feels good.”

Is it hard to keep the players from getting caught up in the hype? - “I’ve never felt that at all with our players. You just pay attention to how they work and how they lift and how they run and all those things and we’ve been really, really impressed. So I don’t think they are. I hope they use that because it’s obvious everybody hears it. If there’s any effect or influence I hope they use that as motivation to prove people right. But I also think they’re smart enough and have been around long enough to know how difficult this league is and what people say about us really doesn’t matter. As is last year: it really doesn’t matter. This year it’s the exact opposite. It doesn’t really matter. We have to go prove it and earn things.”

What’s the next step in Jake Browning’s progression? - “I think the next step in his progression is everybody around him. Everybody wants to talk about Jake Browning and everybody wants to talk about Myles Gaskin and everybody wants to talk about John Ross III on offense…I think we need to talk about all the other unsung heroes that need to be unsung heroes. And if those guys elevate their game, if the o-line elevates their game, if the tight ends take the next step, if the wide receivers can start making some really spectacular plays, I think everything is going to change on our offense in terms of momentum. So is there things Jake can do better? For sure, a bunch of little subtle…more accurate, more anticipation, more pocket presence…all the things that are fundamentals of the quarterback game, which he will. And you could see some things in spring where he started to look better. Our whole mission is to make that quarterback successful. How do we make him one of the most successful quarterbacks in the country, all those other guys playing at the next level, taking the next step…and that’ll all come back to Jake. But he understands. He’s only as good as those guys around him.”

On playing Rutgers with a head coach that’s never been one before - “Yeah, that’s hard. I wish we played them the second game or third game, but it is what it is. That will be a big advantage for Rutgers, without question. I think on defense, one of the things that a good defense has to be built is to be able to defend a bunch of different type schemes. Because you see it all in college football. It’s different in pro football. Everybody kind of runs the same stuff in pro football. Whether it’s going to be a spread offense or more power offense or power spread or they run the quarterback - we see it all. Everything has to be built around being very adjustable and have answers to all these things. Our defense, hats off to our kids and our coaches. They created a system that’s good. They can defend a lot of things. We’re going to have to play fundamental, solid rule football, because who knows what they are going to throw at us and adjust on the fly. That’s what that game is going to be all about. It’s going to be a hard, tough first game.”

Like Jeff Lindquist to TE in spring, any other position changes or roster additions/subtractions before fall camp? - “The only other guy, and we did the same thing in the spring is Will Dissly playing more tight end. We moved him there in the spring and just seeing how that goes. I think we’re going to leave him there at this point. Will’s always a guy we can kick back there if we had some depth issues on defense. But I think at this point we’re going to leave Will at the tight end position after playing d-line all last year. But other position changes…

People have been asking about Austin Joyner - “Austin has played about three weeks of defensive football for us before he got hurt, so he’s still making recoveries there. There’s no talk of moving him at all. He’s still in the secondary and see how it goes.”


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