Chris Petersen Wary of Portland State

On Monday Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen addressed the media ahead of the Huskies' Saturday late-afternoon clash with the Portland State Vikings. Petersen was quick to praise the Vikings, especially their offense.

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Opening - “So it was good to put the tape back on, a lot of good football played, really good energy. I was really happy with our defense getting a couple turnovers and then those fourth-down stops, which in a lot of ways is the same as a turnover. I thought they kind of set the tone until we got into a little bit of a rhythm on offense. A lot of good football played, a lot of things to learn from, a lot of things to clean up with the young guys and we were out yesterday doing that. We’ll fix those issues and move on to Portland State here.”

Any improvement in the run game? - “I think so. We didn’t run it a whole bunch early on. You’ve got to run the ball to get into a rhythm and sometimes the run game doesn’t take over until later in the game. But that was probably one of the main things that jumped out was we didn’t run it a whole bunch early on. We were throwing it more. So I think that might have had something to do with it as well.”

Does that play against one of Myles’ strength in terms of him getting stronger as the game goes on? - “I think that plays against it not only for Myles but for everybody. But it’s a fine line. I think we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to score points and set things up and those type of things. I think Jonathan’s doing a good job mixing it up. He likes to run the ball, there’s no questions about that. But you get these teams that like to pack a lot of guys in there and move guys around in line games and all those things and it’s going to take a minute to get into a rhythm to be able to do that. Not only Myles, but first and foremost the o-line.”

You feel better about your team than after the Rutgers game? - “I do. I think each week we’re building. It’s interesting to see how they show up, their mindset and energy that they play with. That’s the thing I always look at. One is, how inspired they play. How much they support each other and really have fun out there on that field. And even when it doesn’t go well what their interactions are with each other. That’s first and foremost. How well we execute, the precision of execution…not when somebody misses a tackle or they get us something, but we have to really have to earn something, that precise execution of all the skill we’re trying to build. When that shows up that’s really interesting to watch. And just how hard we play. Those are the things, when we get to the game, are what I’m paying attention to. Then we put the tape on and get technical and try to fix it during the week.”

How well did it work out having two teams and the way they use their quarterback to prepare for how Portland State likes to use their quarterback? - “It’s interesting because of all the running they do. I think Portland State’s quarterback is probably the best runner that we’ve seen yet. He is hard to tackle. I always talk about these guys that are creating time and buying time and creating things, those guys are hard to prepare for. When Jake does it, it’s awesome. And he does a little of that, not as good as some of these other guys. But everybody’s got their strengths and weaknesses. Portland State does a great job with their offense. It’s a really good scheme, they are playing to their strengths and their quarterback really makes some things happen.”

On his assessment of UW’s defense in the first two games - “I think that the guys for two games have played really hard and have played really focused. There’s been a couple things, but you’re always going to have a couple plays when you have – I don’t know how many plays we’ve seen so far, 130, 140 plays or something – so you have a couple things. But I don’t think there’s been a lot of busts, and I think they’ve tackled fairly well. Probably tackled better the first game than the second game. Idaho created some space and any time you create a bunch of space, those tackles are going to be tougher to come by, those sure-handed, open-field tackles. But I think that’s the biggest thing, is just kind of probably how hard they played. Very focused, very excited to play, and I like watching those guys when they’re like that.”

On using nonconference games to prepare for Pac-12 play - “I think the big thing that I think about being prepared for Pac-12 play is the first game’s going to be on the road when we get there. That’s the biggest thing that jumps out. It is just nice being in our routine, going to the hotel we know. It’s just all been the same for a long time. Other than that, I think these first three opponents all have a little something unique that we’re all going to see down the road, and we haven’t prepared for every single thing, so you’ve got to adjust and things happen. So I think all that’s good. Again, I just go back to – it’s just all about us. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing in our league or out of our league, it’s just like, are we as prepared as we can be? Are we playing inspired football? And are we going fast and being physical and all those type of things? I’ll never change my tune on that. That’s all we can do. That’s all we can do to prepare these kids.”

Hypothetically, if you’re up by seven or eight touchdowns…- “That’s a great problem to have, and I don’t really think like that.”

But if you are, would you play starters if you felt they needed more reps? - “You’re so hypothetical that I don’t even know why we talk about this. I like it when we can play as many guys as we can. It doesn’t matter if the game’s tied or not. I always want those coaches to rotate guys in there because they need to, to keep guys fresh, and we’ve got to be able to build depth. So we cross that bridge when we come to it. All I know is, Portland State does a heck of a job. We haven’t seen this offense around here, ever, since I’ve been here. Very similar to Nevada’s pistol offense that is really unique with a guy that can run it real effective. So we better be ready to play and defend some stuff we haven’t seen, and we better score some points, because those guys are good at scoring points.”

Do you show tape of Portland State’s win over WSU last season? - “Absolutely. I mean, again, I think if we have a mature team – which I think we do – you put on tape and you’re trying to figure out, OK, have we seen this before or have we not, and you watch a team when they play at their best, no matter who it is, because you always count on somebody bringing their best, and how do you defend that? And that’s how you focus on the tape. And I think our guys will do that, and certainly when they go and look at the Washington State game, I mean, Portland State did a great job. They did. They played those guys awesome.”

On pass protection against Idaho - “It’s always work in progress. We’re not where we need to be anywhere. I’m glad those guys are building some sort of confidence, which is such a big part of this game. We’ve talked about that for the last two years. Fine line between building the confidence and knowing that we have some work to do, and we do. We gave up the one sack that causes a fumble. I mean, depending who you’re playing, that could be life or death. So that can’t happen. So there’s a lot of stuff that you guys saw from the stands that happened like that, but there’s a lot of plays that you didn’t see that were like, ‘this needs to get changed, or we’re going to have issues down the road.’ And that’s what we’re working on.”

On the offensive line’s pass protection against Idaho - “It’s always a work in progress. We’re not where we need to be anywhere. I’m glad that those guys are building some sort of confidence, which is such a big part of this game. We’ve talked about that for the last two years. Fine line between building the confidence and knowing that we have some work to do. And we do. We gave up the one sack that causes a fumble. Depending who you’re playing that could be life or death, so that can’t happen. There’s a lot of stuff that you guys saw form the stands that happened like that, but there are a lot of plays that you didn’t see that’s like this needs to get changed or we’re going to have issues down the road. And that’s what we’re working on.”

What can your team learn from John Ross’ comeback? - “We tell our guys all the time, I mean, you’re probably going to get hurt, and you’re going to play when you’re not full speed, and there’s a good probability that you’re going to miss a game or two in your career here. And that’s if you’re lucky. That’s just the game of football. So your job is to get as healthy as you can as fast as you can and be positive about it. There’s nothing we can do to change it except you rehabbing it, and when you hit a setback like John Ross had, those are the hardest ones, a year injury. That’’s a hard slug in the gut.”

How impressive has that been? - “From the start we’ve said very, very impressive. He, within the first week, I was impressed with that guy in terms of his mentality. And I’m like ‘I don’t know if he’s going to be able to be this positive. It’s going to hit him in another month.’ And it probably did, but he did a great job of masking that. I was as proud of him for how he handled that as anything he’s done on the field. Well, kind of. I like what he does on the field a lot. But it was impressive, I’ll tell you that.”

Is Brayden Lenius on track for returning against Arizona? - “Yeah, we’ll see. We’re going to cross that bridge when we get there. We have a long ways to go. One week is a long way in college football, so we’ll see.”

Has Brayden Lenius been practicing? - “Yeah. He’s been with us the whole time.”

What does a guy of his size add when he comes back? - “I don’t really know to tell you the truth, because he hasn’t been with the offense one snap. So, just like I said, we’ll have to cross that bridge next week and figure out where we are.”

On the conference’s performance so far - “It’s hard for me to say because I really haven’t watched much; I’ve seen a little bit on TV. To tell you the truth, if I went through everybody I’d be guessing a little bit on everybody’s record. That’s why, you know, I kind of go back to all this early stuff and what teams look like and ranking. It’s just like, it’s so early. I don’t really know. That’s a good question, but I don’t really know. You guys would have a much better, more educated opinion than I would.”

Is there one thing about this team that you’re disappointed with? - “Not really. We’re on track. Nothing is going to be perfect and we’re always trying to fix things. But I think after game two - I think if you’re trying to forecast, if we’re trying to look ahead and we’re thinking ‘what’s this team going to look like?’ I think we would hope it would look something like where we are right now. But I think it is awesome to play these games because stuff always shows up that you’re like ‘this isn’t what we thought. This isn’t what we thought about this guy, this scheme, this whatever, this side of the ball, this group,’ and we try to go fix it. I’m excited about this team and I know our students aren’t here yet, but I just really hope that the fans, that they come out for this game and they see this. It’s an awesome group to coach. It’s going to be an interesting season, I really think that. That’s what I hope. Back when this thing we really rolling it was irrelevant for the most part who was on the schedule; people just came to watch them play, and I think that’s so much of the storied history of this program when you talk about the greatest setting. All these fans come and enjoy this. No better setting than it was on Saturday with that water and that temperature. How do you have this temperature, this water, no bugs, no humidity, no nothing and people are like ‘huh? This is awesome.’”

On Browning tying school record with 5 TD passes - “That’s surprising, just because of all the really great quarterbacks that they’ve had here. I don’t know any of these types of records or stats or anything. So when somebody mentioned that, that’s always surprising to me. That’s why you guys are always (asking) about the run game — because they’ve run the ball so well and so hard here (in the past). So when someone throws for five touchdowns it’s not about that — it’s about, why can’t we run the ball? OK, I get it. OK.”

You think about leaving him in to throw a sixth TD? - “I didn’t know he threw that many touchdowns during the game, to tell you the truth. … I didn’t know how many passes he completed, I didn’t know how many passes we threw. Talk about not seeing the forest amongst the trees, that’s kind of how it goes when you’re in the game mode a little bit. I think it’s great. Football’s changed from back in the day, obviously. And people throw more touchdowns than run for them these days.”

On Tani Tupou making the Seahawks roster as a fullback - “I think it’s great. We’ve talked to him, he’s been over here a couple times. I have a hard time describing him because I think that kid, he grows up in this area to come to Washington and then gets to play for the pro team … and what he meant to the team (at UW last year). Just taking care of so many of the younger players. It was amazing. It’d see him — he had this van and it’d be loaded with players. He was like the carpool mom, taking guys around. He did so many things that guys appreciated and respected, let alone played and practiced really hard. So for him to be able to make that team at a different position … When I went over there and watched those guys practice in the spring and they had Tani playing fullback lined up at wide receiver and throwing slant routes to him, I was like, ‘Wow, they’ve really got it going on over here at Seahawks headquarters with Tani catching slant routes.’ It’s pretty cool.”

Did you ever think of using him on offense? - “Well, we did a little bit. We just didn’t get into too much two-back things. Our little short-yardage goal-line (package) we did have him in there for a couple things. He’d be a great fullback, obviously, weighing that much and he’s athletic and compact. I think he’s an ideal fullback.”

Did you envision Dwayne Washington doing what he’s doing in the NFL right now? - “Dwayne’s such a physical, fast, explosive player — and that’s what that league’s all about. So it doesn’t surprise me that he made that team. We’ve got a good friend that’s the receiver coach there, so we were keeping tabs on him all along. I think it’s great.”

Going back to Portland State, does that defense remind you of anyone? - “Similar to Rutgers, structure-wise. Everybody has their different blitzes, they’re going to blitz more (or) blitz less, but structure-wise it’s similar to Rutgers.”

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