Petersen: UW Will Be Ready On Short Notice

Chris Petersen isn't thrilled about a short week after a Saturday night game, but that doesn't mean the Washington Head Coach didn't see it coming. Petersen confirmed Monday that they've been planning for this week for a long time and expects his No. 9 Huskies to be ready to go Friday when they host the No. 7 Stanford Cardinal Friday night.

Opening - “Yeah…good to be back home safely and moving on quickly to the next opponent, but it was great for our guys to go down there and play hard and have to win a tight game, which is what we’ve been talking about for a long time. We did what we wanted to do for the most part on offense. There’s the strategy of trying to run the ball a little bit. And on defense, once we settled down, certainly in the second half, we played pretty darn solid. One of the things was, looking back - I think they were ready to play. I think in some ways, trying a little too hard. These guys are always all in. They care tremendously. But against a team like that, you get out of your gap, they spread you out and one guys gets out of your gap, big creases with all their speed. And their scrambling quarterback is always a wild card. That obviously hurt us a little bit. But there’s really good things to learn from and I think our guys will do that and now we’re on to a completely different challenge in terms of the styles of offense, defense and special teams. And so quick turnaround, and here we go.”

What did your Sunday look like for your staff? - “We got home probably around 5 (am) and guys went home, got some sleep, went on to Stanford. Most guys watched the game on the plane. We had a team meeting and most players watched the tape on their own and went on to the next game. They’ll come in today and we’ll have our meetings in the afternoon and practice in the afternoon and we’ll do that for the next two days. And then bump it to the morning later in the week.”

How big a pain is a Friday night game? - “Any time you don’t play on Saturday and have that it is a pain. It definitely takes you out of your rhythm, your routine and all those type of things for sure. Way back when, had to play a game on Thursday, and when you have to do that it’s almost not fair to the kids. So anything above that it’s such a bad experience, anything above that you just deal with it and manage.”

When you saw a Saturday night game before the Friday night game, what did you think? - “We didn’t see that until two weeks before, but been anticipating that all summer because of Arizona. They usually don’t play those day games at that time. We’ve been looking at this part of our schedule for a long time. On the road, tough environment, have to come home and play Stanford and then go on the road again. We get the schedule and then we make our schedule and adjust and go.”

How big a deal is this game for the players? - “It’s awesome, no question about it. Stanford’s an awesome program. I’ll start with that - program. This isn’t just an awesome team. They’ve had an awesome program for a while now. They know how to do it. They know how to do it right and play good football, win championships and the whole thing across the board. So it’s a great opportunity for the kids, for everybody playing in a game like this.”

David Shaw as a teacher - “I don’t know specifically what he does. I know they have a really good system. They know their style, their systems. And they recruit to it. And they do what they do, and they do it very well. That I do know. They’re not all over the place. They know what they want to be and they do that very well.”

On not taking the Stanford job in 2011 compared to taking the UW job in 2014 - “Like I’ve said before, everything has to do with timing. It has to do with timing.”

How hard is it to do what Stanford has done? Can you emulate it? - “It’s really hard to do, and I don’t know if there is because we’re not there. But every year they are right there, best of the best. This is such a tough, competitive league…we’re already seeing that, guys just kind of knocking each other off and how close the games are and all those types of things. So for those guys to stay as consistent as they have, everybody knows how hard that is. To do it one time, people can get things done one time. But to stay there year after year is really, really impressive.”

You said last year that Stanford looked like the kind of program you hoped to be. What would beating them this year mean? - “I think everybody says that, because they’ve been winning the league or right there every year. I don’t know what it would mean. We just take it one game at a time. We know we’ve got a really good … it’s the next game with a really, really good team. I know we have to play really well to beat these guys. We have to play our best football to get that done.”

On the challenge of facing Christian McCaffrey - “Well, again, they’re smart coaches, because they do whatever they need to do to get him the ball. Punt returning, kick returning, wide receiver, wildcat quarterback, hand him the ball. And so he’s great with the ball in his hands. Unbelievable vision, extremely explosive, and maybe as patient as anybody I’ve seen. Whether he’s returning kicks or handing the ball in the backfield, those characteristics just show up, and it’s a unique combination. His vision is so good, and he’s so patient, and so many times it looks like there’s not really anything there, then he’ll find it. And then he’s not going down with one guy just kind of grabbing a hold of him. He’s not going down. You’ve got to tackle this guy with multiple guys. He’s unique and rare. You don’t see guys like this that often.”

On UW’s defensive line struggling in the first half - “I think like I said, they were doing too much. I think they were trying to penetrate, getting washed a little bit. They spread you out anyway, so that creates those seams, and a really good defense all has to fit together. They all have to fit together. And if one guy’s out of his gap, that can affect everybody. And I think once they kind of settled back down and everybody was just doing their job, that made our defense tighten up.”

On challenges of playing vs. a spread offense to a pro-style offense on a short week - “It is, because these guys are unique in terms of, like – I don’t know how many years ago, seven years ago, you see a spread team or something it’s like, oh, what is this. So now the table has turned, and you don’t see this heavy personnel group, multiple-linemen, fullback in the game all the time. You don’t get a lot of reps against that. Now we have a shorter week, so it’ll be a challenge to get ready for.”

Did you say anything to Cameron Van Winkle after the game? - “No, no. Cam’s a good kicker. Just missed the one and then the other one, I don’t know. He’ll get it straightened out, though. But he’s been pretty solid all of fall camp, all practices and all those type of things. He’ll be back in there.”

Seemed like that wasn’t Dante Pettis’ best game fielding punts - “Yeah, I agree. I think we’ve got to field the ball a little bit more when we can. Now, I will say this, again, with the style of kicking in college football, you get the traditional, you get the knuckle-ball kickers, you get the cross-field kickers, you get the rugby kickers, and some of these guys do multiple things. So everybody is trying to keep the balls out of the hands of the returners. So it’s a lot different. It’s a lot different than guys just kind of grooving it up there all the time. It’s completely different than the NFL game, just with all these grounders. But, you know, it’s what we work on all the time. And I think he’ll be able to field the ball better.”

Can you feel the anticipation with fewer than 2,000 tickets left for Friday, first top-10 matchup at Husky Stadium since 1997… - “I don’t know about all that, (but) we’re excited. We’re excited to have an awesome crowd and have a really good game. That’s what college football … students are here, all those type of things. So I know our guys will be thrilled to play in front of that. I think everyone will be. So it’s exciting.”

What stood out to you after watching the game again? - “I think what I already said –I think our defense, once they settled down, played pretty darn good. It seems like everybody in our league has some unique players that can really change the game, and certainly Dawkins can do that. He’s fast and hard to tackle. And so once we settled down, that helped us a little bit. Even toward the end, I think our style of rushing had changed a little bit to try to contain him a little bit more rather than sack him so much. And we made some plays when we had to make plays. On offense, we scored and they answered, got to overtime. Offense capitalized right away. Even when we had a big play, then we get hit, they still responded. And then our defense rose up when they needed to. So I think all that stuff is really good. That’s what I think.”

Is there a way to quantify how important it was to go through a close win? - “Yeah, because that’s how I think most of the games are going to be that we play from here on out. I just think that’s what we’re going to get. That’s what Stanford does so well. It’s just their style. It’s not an uptempo team; they’re not trying to run a bunch of plays. They’re just going to kind of keep after you and they win close games. They just do their thing and keep grinding you. A fourth quarter game doesn’t bother those guys in the slightest. That’s one of the reasons I think they’re really good. They don’t flinch, but I think that’s how a lot of these games are going to be.”

On Stanford’s defense - “They’ve been pretty similar the last couple years. Like always, I think, with really good programs, everybody for whatever reason is always going to look to that offense. You have a guy like some of the players they’ve had in the past and certainly Christian (McCaffrey), it’s like wow. But you aren’t going to win like they win without unbelievable defense. And they play great defense. Their defense is every bit as good as their offense. Really, really sound. They play extremely hard. They don’t give up many points. That’s been kind of year in and year out.”

How difficult was it to defend Brandon Dawkins? - “You saw it. He’s hard to defense because you get him defended and he can still make plays. You think you get angles on him and he can outrun angles. But I think we learned some things. We talk about leveraging the ball all the time on defense. We work on it day in and day out. But you get a guy with that kind of explosiveness, those angles change quickly on you on the field, and it showed up. I think it will get our guys attention a little bit in terms of the struggle that we have of truly replicating the game in practice. That’s what we’re trying to do every day, but when you’re not going live it’s kind of hard to do that. But (Brandon Dawkins) is a problem. There’s no doubt.”

Do you look at Lavon Coleman a little different after that kind of a night? - “No. I’ve always thought Lavon (Coleman) is a really good player. I think he’s a downhill runner and he can break tackles. I think he did a nice job vision wise. I think he was hitting the holes pretty darn good. One of his long runs he kind of hit it on the backside and it was designed for the front side. So that was really good to see. He’s always - he plays hard. He’s a football player. We have him on special teams and he doesn’t miss a beat. It’s good to see him out there really have a good game on offense. I’m happy for him to do that.”

How is Lavon Coleman a different runner than Myles Gaskin? - “Myles (Gaskin) is a little shiftier, a little more wait, wait, patient. Lavon is more of a downhill, find a crease and hit it hard. That’s when I think that he’s at his best.”

How did you evaluate Myles Gaskin’s night? - “I thought he was fine. I think coach Bhonopha does a good job of rotating those guys and mixing them all in there with Jomon (Dotson) as well. It’s always that fine line of getting a guy in a rhythm and getting all those guys to the game. That’s trickier and easier said than done. Sometimes, it had been Myles most of the games last year. I think it’s great when we get another guy in who has a hot hand, get him the ball, and maybe it’s Jomon down the road. We’re going to need all those guys.”

Is 24-25 carries what you expected Myles Gaskin to have? - “I don’t go in with any expectations like that because the games never really go like you think they’re going to. We wanted to run the ball and if you can run it you keep running and if not we have to throw it a little more. We will. I think you’re kind of feeling as you go and making adjustments along the way.”

How were teammates treating Lavon Coleman after the game? - “I think the same. I think that’s what guys expect out of our - you know, we have a good stable of running backs, and those guys can all make plays. When they get the chance to do it and they make something happen they’ll get more carries. That’s just kind of how we did it. I don’t think anybody is treating him any differently.”

On Jake Browning’s block on the John Ross reverse? - “We need a block on that play. We usually do unless you just completely fool them. But usually somebody sniffs it out and he’s the guy that has to kind of get it started. I think Jake (Browning) said it best; the expectations and standards for quarterbacks blocking are so low that if you do anything, give a guy a little bit of a shoulder, it’s like a bone-crushing hit. I don’t really think it was that. But it was good.”

On Darren Gardenhire’s pass interference calls - “Sometimes you just have to trust your technique. If a guy runs a route on you and you get behind a little bit you just have to continue and trust your technique and not panic. Usually you’re going be okay. That happens every now and again. He made a great play. He played good football, made a great play on special teams, caused that fumble for us. That was good.”

How is this team better prepared to for a game like Friday’s compared to when you first arrived at UW? - “You know, we’re still a work in progress. So it’s hard for me to — what are we going on, Game 5 here? And our first three games were unique, being at home and playing real well. Then we’ve got to go on the road for our first Pac-12 (game) — competition gets a lot tighter for us. And the kids answered. So we’re still a work in progress, but we like these guys a lot in terms of their work ethic, their focus, how hard they compete. That’s the one thing is, you watch the first half (of the Arizona game) on defense and you think, ‘Are we ready to play? Ready to go?’ That’s the first thing to kind of pop in your mind, but I think they prepared really hard and they were excited to go down there. And maybe too excited, trying to do too much on defense. We’ve got to do it together. So that I know about this team, about this group, that they’re all in; that they listen to their coaches and really try to do what we ask them to do.”

Is it possible that the nonconference schedule played in a role in what happened Saturday night and that maybe UW players were taken aback by it? - “I really don’t think so. All those questions are hard to answer. I just think all we can do — we just want thse kids to prepare and prepare really, really hard. And then go out and compete their tail off. There’s a lot of components to what competing means — it’s not just going out there and giving your best effort. You’ve got to execute, you’ve got to do a bunch of little things; that really embodies what competing is. So we’re still — hey, we wouldn’t practice if we had it all figured out. And we don’t. So we’re a work in progress and still learning and figure out how we can be the best we can be.”

Would you rather have the extra day this week and play Saturday? - “I think all coaches would say, ‘We want our normal week. We want to stay into our rhythm and our full chance to prepare like we always do.’”

Given how the team played Saturday, do they maybe feel getting back on the field as soon as possible is a good thing? - “I think our team thinks that they played well. Let’s not underestimate Arizona. I think it’s hard-fought Pac-12 game that we haven’t won in 10 years (in Tucson). I think they did a nice job. Are their things we can improve on? That’s why we practice — we’re never going to be perfect. There’s never been a perfect game played. There’s always going to be something. Write this down: Every game we play, there’s going to be something you guys can pick at. For sure. So I think they played hard and they played well, so we’re proud of them, how they battled. Now we’ve got a really different test, and we’ll see.”

What do you want from the crowd? - “I want them to be like they always are when this place gets filled up — loud and passionate and enjoy themselves and have fun. Just like I want our players to. It’s such a unique environment and it doesn’t happen all the time, when you’re going to get the place packed and all those things. So I just want everyone to enjoy college football and be all in — players all in, fans all in, players coaches, everybody … all in.”

The 1991 championship team will be honored at halftime Friday. Do you have any plans for those players to meet with your team this week? - “We’re around — when some of those guys start surfacing, we’re back into (morning practices). … But I know some of those guys will be by the building … so I’m looking forward to meeting any of those guys that come by.”

Do you have any memories of that 1991 team? - “Not specifically. Like I’ve said before, just through that time as a player and as a young coach, just watching Washington win a lot — just the body of work, that’s what I remember specifically. When you pay attention to it a little more closely, the great accomplishments that team did get done — that’s pretty cool.”

Did you watch the Rose Bowl last year? - “I did.”

Stanford’s fake-fumble touchdown — what was your reaction? - “Yeah, we ran that at Boise. Twice. That was my reaction.” Top Stories