More than once in the aftermath of Washington’s 20-13 loss to Stanford on Saturday, coach Chris Petersen referenced a need for the coaching staff to go back to “square one” during UW’s bye week as they evaluate the best course of action for the Huskies’ struggling offense.
But where is square one, exactly?
Offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith explains it this way: “For example, a pass concept. Well, ‘This is how it should be working after five weeks.’ We went back and started looking at those the last couple of days. ‘Is this really what we’re doing? Are we emphasizing these detailed coaching points enough?’ That’s really what we’re doing. Then, again, the pass pattern – ‘Is this just a poor play or are we just executing it not very well?’ And we’re going back and forth on each play like that.”
They’re also trying to help third-year sophomore quarterback Cyler Miles with his pass-play progressions, as well as trying to find ways to help him stay in the pocket longer.
And that’s not all on the quarterback.
“I think what can help him hang in a little longer is our details in our route-running and our pass-pro(tection) being a little more salty,” Smith said. “That’ll help him stay in, because often times, that thing is squeezing and he needs to get out. It’s a group effort. All 11 guys got to sharpen up, and that includes us coaches. We’ve got to get him in better positions.”
The Huskies don’t have an opponent to plan for this week – they next play Oct. 11 at California – but Petersen said Monday that in some ways, a bye ends up being more work than a typical week simply because there’s more time to get things done.
That probably starts with re-evaluating an offense that managed just 179 yards against Stanford. And recruiting. Washington practiced Wednesday, and its coaches hit the road for two days before reconvening for another practice Saturday.
“I think it’s a big week in terms of looking at ourselves, looking at the opponent, cleaning some things up, recruiting,” Petersen said. “So this will be as much work – more work maybe – than we do even in a normal game week.”
RIVA ‘DEFINITELY CLOSER’ TO PLAYING
Senior right tackle Ben Riva has played in one of the Huskies’ first five games while nursing a knee injury, an ailment Petersen said has been tricky to figure out. Riva returned to practice last week, offensive line coach Chris Strausser said, but again didn’t play when the Huskies took the field against Stanford.
It sounds as if Riva, who has been spelled by redshirt freshman Coleman Shelton, is nearing a return. But he needs to work his way back into game shape after all the time he’s missed.
“I think the biggest thing was, he was not really in game shape, ready to play against Stanford,” Strausser said. “But I think physically, he was the closest he’s been since the Eastern Washington game to be ready to play. Definitely frustrating for him. He’s a senior who’s started a lot of games around here, so for him to sit there and watch, I’m sure is very frustrating.
“He’s definitely closer.”
Strausser said senior left tackle Micah Hatchie played “a really, really good game” in UW’s 20-13 loss to Stanford.
“Unfortunately,” Strausser said, “he’s the only guy that had a really, really good game against Stanford.”
Sophomore receiver John Ross, who sat out UW’s Sept. 20 game against Georgia State but returned to play against Stanford, said his injured right leg is “still a little tight, but it’s better.” He said he considers himself 100 percent, and that “I’m going no matter what, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to help my guys out.” … Of Petersen’s decision to force Stanford to re-kick late in Saturday’s game instead of taking a free spot at the 35-yard line after a kickoff out of bounds, Ross said: “I’ve got to make a play for my team. That’s the only thing. I just didn’t want to let us down. With an opportunity like that granted, I should have made a better play the time I did get the ball. But things like that, I have faith in my guys up front and I appreciate Coach doing that.”