I’m in route to Atlanta as I type this, but the Peach Bowl festivities are already under way. Huskies coach Chris Petersen and Alabama coach Nick Saban each spoke at a press conference earlier today in Atlanta. Here is some of what they said.
(On Bowl Week mentality before a Semifinal game) “I think everyone is in agreement we’re trying to create a balance for the players in terms of them having the proper time to focus on what they need to do to go play well because of the opportunity they’ve created for themselves and still have somewhat of an experience from a bowl game standpoint that would not be too intrusive in terms of what they want to try to accomplish as a team. Everybody has been open about how we can all manage this the best for the players and I think everybody’s doing the best they can to try to make that happen for the players.”
“In a playoff you’re all-in. You have to go 1-0 or you’re out. “Is this a bowl game or a playoff game? Every player has to decide that mindset for themselves; every coach has to decide for themselves. We are trying to create a balance for everyone in our organization because it is a playoff game.”
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(On Washington’s defense) “They’re very good, they have length at corner, they’re very good cover guys. I think the scheme that they play, they don’t make a lot of mistakes. They’re sort of a little bit Seattle Seahawk-like in the fact that we’re gonna do what we do and we’re gonna do it really well. They do a great job of executing the things that they play. They do a great job of breaking on the ball.”
(On Washington’s John Ross) “He is probably the best receiver we’ve played all year because of his production, the way he’s used and the diversity he has as a player. He has great speed. He’s a good run-after-catch guy. He’s an outstanding player. It’s going to be important that we do a good job on him.”
(On what makes John Ross such a good receiver) “What makes him special is that he’s just got some god given explosiveness that you don’t see very often. He’s had that all along but now he’s really become a polished receiver…He wants to be coached, he wants to be a good receiver.”
(On finding the balance between enjoying Bowl Week and focusing on winning a Playoff game) “We always want them to enjoy and appreciate the moment. We want them to appreciate the different venues, the hostile environments we go into. We really do. That’s part of this whole thing. Part of college football, the pageantry. We come here for a week and you get all of these cool events. We want them to appreciate that as well. I think there’s plenty of time to do that and still be focused on the task at hand and why we’re here.”
(On when he knew Jake Browning had took the next step) “We’ve felt for a long time that he has that ‘it’ factor…He’s a tremendously hard worker and studier of the game and the position. So you know it’s only a matter of time but you can never predict when. He’s still a work in progress, we all are. And that’s one of the best things about him, you feel that he’s still hungry to master the position.”
(On Alabama’s senior class having won 50 games) “It’s amazing what Alabama is doing, the level that they compete at. It’s a combination of really good players…and they’re coached well. It’s that combination. That’s what makes them really good. They lose guys early and the next crew is ready to take the baton. It’s impressive the cycle he’s got going over there.”
(On Coach Saban comparing Washington’s secondary to the Seattle Seahawks) “I don’t know about that comparison…I think our secondary played well. I think we’ve got some good players back there that compete and really understand the position. Our whole defense will be tested like we haven’t been tested yet because of the balance that Alabama brings to the table.”
(On being known for trick plays) “Anytime someone other than the quarterback gets to throw the ball everyone is excited…guys like to have fun they like to do something different…so everyone talks about about us doing trick plays. We may not do any, we might do a bunch. Who knows.”