Petersen: The Message Is Always The Same

Chris Petersen addressed the press Thursday ahead of Washington's second game of the 2016 season versus Idaho. The opponent has changed, but the UW Head Coach said the message to the team will always remain the same.

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(after some joking about fielding the same questions all week)

What did you think about your long snappers? - “I like it! There you go. You know what? If you’re not talking about your long snappers, it’s an awesome day for those guys. Very good.”

So how’s the run game? - “We’ll find out. It’s hard to know in practice. Equally, if not more important than the pass game to us. We’ve got to be able to do that. The one thing is, we want balance in our offense because most teams are going to try to take something away from you. Usually if you can run the ball that’s what they’re trying to take away. And if you do that you have to be able to throw the ball. In our ideal world on offense, staying balanced makes it a better game for us on offense.”

Will the success with the long throws last week open things up for the run game? - “Could. It could. We’ll see. It usually just always comes down to one-on-one battles. I think some of our one-on-one battles need to be a little bit more effective and efficient. But I also think we need to be able to find the creases. I don’t think we’re in our rhythm with our run game for sure. I know we missed a couple reads, but it takes a while to get into that rhythm.”

Has it taken some time for the returners to get used to the swirling winds in Husky Stadium? - “I don’t think it bothers them too much. We practice in that every day, so that needs to be our advantage. Knock on wood, it really hasn’t affected them. We hope it affects the opponents because it is a little bit unpredictable. You can see the flags blowing a certain way but that doesn’t mean that’s the way the wind’s going. So it’s nice to be able to work in that.”

They have a very good punter, don’t they? - “Really good. He’s not only a punter, but kicker, kickoff man. He’s a weapon for them. That’s going to be a big challenge for us, to really pay attention to see if we can get anything going because his leg is so strong in all three phases.”

Is there a window in terms of yards where it’s ideal for great punt returns? - “Really far and really deep because it’s hard for those guys to cover that fast. So we like that. We’ll see. He has a really big leg and he kicks it high, so it gives his guys a chance to cover. But so much of it comes down to the guys up front. If they can hold up a little bit then Dante’s good in space.”

Is this an easy group to keep on focus? - “I think we’re a work in progress. We’ll see. It’s always a new challenge every week. Win, lose, you’re a different group. I think week one, even week two it’s pretty easy to stay focused and grounded. They don’t have school right now. We’ll just see how it goes down the road. It’s hard. It’s hard to everyday bring your best in practice. Every week to bring your best in the game. It’s something that we’re relentless about, the message. But it’s a hard thing to do. We’ll see.”

What has been the message this week? - “The message is always the same. It’s the standard. That’s why the outside - what everyone else is saying about us at anytime - has nothing to do with anything. We’ve had people talk about ‘the expectations seem to be different.’ They’re not different. They’re not at all different. These kids since the day I’ve got here have really cared and want to win and have high expectations. Our expectations haven’t changed. Now whether you want to use that or the standard, but it’s a standard how we practice, how we are in meeting, how we play the game, how we have each other’s back as a team. All those types of things. That’s what we’re focused on. Not on anything else on the outside.”

What about the Rutgers game helped you prepare for this week? - “I think each team is unique. I think the one thing that helps us prepare is that we had one game under our belt. I think Idaho would say the same thing. It’s nice to have that first one under your belt when there are certain things that happen during games, and full speed action is completely different than practice, certainly than the past two weeks we’ve been practicing. I think that’s nice that we’ve had that. And you’re trying to replicate what did the week before and do it a little bit better/“

On his philosophy for non-conference scheduling - “That’s such a hard question. I think that we want to play people that our fans get excited about. There’s three of those every year. The administration is always working hard on that. People change their minds’, people cancel games, people can’t do it, there’s only a handful that have open dates, so we want to play a competitive schedule that gets us ready to play in the PAC-12. At the end of the day, for us and for everybody, it should be about the league they play in and are you getting yourself ready to play your best football for the league. I think we play in one of the best, if not the best conferences in the country. And that’s what we have to get ourselves ready to play.”

Would you rather be playing a Power Five opponent this week? - “I’d rather be playing Idaho in two days. That’s who’s on our schedule, that’s who we play. Idaho has some playmakers. I’ve watched all their tape. And if we don’t show up to play our best – and I’ve said this before – every team that’s on our schedule can beat us. So that’s where we are right now. All that other stuff, that’s for the administration to figure out. We’re playing who’s in front of us.”

There is a debate, though, like with Stanford last season, if they had scheduled someone like Sacramento State instead of Northwestern, and won… - “But they didn’t, and they didn’t, and they still weren’t there, so what does that say? Nobody’s going to be happy, even if we make this a 16-team tournament, then somebody else was left out. That’s college football. That’s just kind of how it is. So I think it’s good for you guys, because you can debate it forever. But it’s better than it was. And even the SEC was worried about this way back when they started, of beating each other up. Well, I think the same thing about us. Last year, Stanford was as good as anybody that was out there. They didn’t get their shot. Sometimes that happens. But that’s college football right now.”

Any talk among Pac-12 coaches about scheduling a nonconference game later in the season, in October or so? - “No, I haven’t heard anything. I think if there’s any talk – are we all playing three or four nonconference games? That’s the starting point. I think once you get into your league, that’s who I want to play. that’s who we’re focused on. So then to have to play somebody outside your league … I like once we get into league, we’re just playing our league opponents. That’s who everybody should be judged off of, like who you play in your league and how you do in your league. I think you start there always. And if you can win your league, that’s got to make a huge statement, certainly in the league we play in.”

On kickoffs, is it hard to scheme for an opponent not wanting to kick to your primary returner? - “Yeah. Not only scheme, but to work on. When a guy is kicking away and they sky kick, those are always things that take a lot of time, effort and energy to get good at, to field it, to not just raise the white flag, so to speak, where it’s like, ‘hey, we’re good with the ball there.’ Because you are getting good field position, but we’d like to try to be aggressive as well, so we spend a lot of time on the kicking game in all phases, and that one as well.”

How difficult is it to get a good, legitimate return in that situation? - “Real tough. Real tough to get a good, legitimate – but I do think you can get some real good field position. Usually if they do those type of things, you’re already fielding in good position, and if you can tack on eight, 10 more yards, I mean, the offense likes running out there at the 40-ish yard line. So that’s something there.”

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