UW coach Chris Petersen addressed the media for his fifth Monday press conference of the regular season as the team prepares to play at Oregon State on Saturday:
“Well, looking at the tape I thought our guys did a great job. Kind of everything I said after the game…Colorado started fast, kind of weathered the storm and settled down on defense and played really good defense, and then in the second half got a little more going in the run game. Did what we needed to win. I thought some individuals made some really, really good plays, and you could see those guys stepping up and getting better. It was awesome to see Quinten Pounds make a catch like that. I’ve seen him make some big plays in practice and you could kind of feel him coming on, it was good to get confidence in the game and see him play like that in a game. Thought Vita Vea was playing at a really, really high level - not only on special teams but on defense. Myles Bryant doing a good job, Jordan Miller getting two interceptions, there’s just a lot of guys playing good. I thought our offensive line played well.
“So yeah, it was a good game, a good game to build on. So we move forward.”
Comments about the slow start against Colorado:
“Everybody is trying to figure out how to start fast. No one wants to come out there and it’s a little like turnovers. I don’t really have the answer there. We’d like to start faster for sure. Two out of the four game we’ve kind of started out fast but this one we didn’t. Maybe it had something to do with being on the road, I don’t know, and emotions being different. I don’t know. But we’ll continue to pay attention to it and try and figure that out.”
Did you sense the run game was ready to break out?
“I think the run game, like I keep saying it, the run game is not always pretty. You need all those guys on the same page and when they are on the same page and block it pretty clean the running back still has to make somebody miss to get something done. And Myles is usually pretty good at that. And we’ve got to call enough runs - I think this is the game where we called the most amount of runs. You start to get into that rhythm. There’s multiple factors, but I think we took a step.”
What was the plan for Kamari Pleasant filling in for Lavon Coleman?
“We always have a backup. Heck, a guy can get hurt on the first play or whatever, so we always have a guy who would fill this role if it happens. We use a lot of different personnel groups and who is similar to this guy who could kind of get it done…he and Lavon have had similar type roles in terms of being utility guys that can carry the ball, they can block, they are bigger backs.”
What do you want to see out of Tristan Vizcaino this week, and is he still your field goal guy?
“We obviously have to get him back into a groove. He’s got a very powerful leg and so we’ve got to get him going again. Those field goals were just a little bit off. Extra points, he can make those in his sleep. It’s a game of confidence.”
Is there an opportunity for Van Soderberg to get in there?
“There’s an opportunity for everybody at any time. I’ve said that a thousand times. It’s a fine line between helping a guy get back in his rhythm and being fair to the team and what we’re all about as well. So the competition is always ongoing.”
What’s the status of Chico McClatcher?
“Let me just start with this, I want to reiterate this again: if we have a long-term injury I’m usually going to come in here on Monday and say something about it, but if it’s week-to-week, or a couple weeks - sometimes it’s very hard for us to know how long a guy is out. That’s the only reason I don’t say that stuff. It’s not for our fans: we want our fans to know as much about the program as we can. It’s a competitive advantage when that stuff comes out early, like about Byron Murphy. So I look around the country and all these guys aren’t playing and it comes out on Saturday, but then it gets out of here early and it’s like…the beat writers from Colorado coming out and saying hey, these guys are not playing this guy. That’s the only reason. It hurts us when it doesn’t come out when we want it to. If it’s long-term and everybody knows this is going to be a long time, I always announce it. But I would just hope everybody could be on the same page. When it comes out early, game-time decision-type stuff, that makes it hard on us.
“Chico will be out. Chico broke his ankle. I think they are looking at consulting with the doctors today. We think there’s going to be surgery and all that. We won’t count on Chico for probably the rest of the season.”
What are the chances he could redshirt?
“I think they are going to be really good if it comes to that. Just did the math and he’s right there.”
Did walk-on outside linebacker Ryan Bowman earn himself a scholarship?
“Ryan Bowman is doing a good job. Really appreciate how that guy is playing. He seems to be the one guy that’s always getting around the quarterback, doing a good job with all those things.”
How satisfying is it to have walk-ons like Bowman and former walk-on Myles Bryant come through your program and play like they did Saturday?
“For the most part when we have guys that walk on, we’re hoping that they can get into the mix. Where I came from, we had walk-ons play in the NFL a couple times. If we want somebody to walk on around here, we’re thinking this guy has a good chance to get on the field and help us win. That’s what that thing is all about, we’re not trying to just get guys to be here and take up space.”
What luxury does the rest of the defense get when the defensive line is playing as well as they are?
“You get better coverage because you can put more guys into coverage. If you don’t have to send ‘backers and DB’s. As soon as you do that there’s going to be more holes or man-to-man coverage in the secondary. Heck, we’d like to rush two and get pressure and then we’d have a lot of answers. The more that you can get pressure with four guys, that gives you a big luxury. We’ll always mix it up but when the d-line can bring pressure without us having to bring extra pressure? That really helps.”
Enough guys to replace McClatcher?
“All of those things. You always hate to lose guys. I just feel really bad – we all do – for Chico. That’s hard. Guys are playing well, and have worked so hard – but that’s part of football. They’ve just got to stay positive. One of the No. 1 things in getting a guy back as fast as you can is their mental approach to it. Our trainers and doctors would always say that. Those guys being more upbeat, it is so hard when you get slugged in the gut like that. And so we just really think about those kids who are going to be out. But after that, it is next man up. That is part of the philosophy. That is football. That is how it goes. Nobody feels sorry for us at all outside of this building. We really feel for Chico, but everybody else is throwing a party when they see Chico isn’t going to be out there. So the next guy better step up, and that is going to come from multiple guys. That is how we do it anyways. It isn’t any one guy and that you are the guy – we move parts and pieces around and see who does certain roles well.”
Do you have other guys who can run the “fly” sweep as well as McClatcher?
“Half of our receivers can do it. Most of our running back corps can do it. So it is move guys around. It is not a huge part of what we do, so we’ll just try and get the ball to our athletes in space, and whatever that means.”
Linebacker Azeem Victor had his best game against Colorado. What did you see from him?
“I think a lot of guys, with Azeem being one, are starting to get their game feet under them, and Azeem is running around pretty good. We are moving him around a little bit to create some matchups. He is a physical player. He showed up pretty good in the game.
How do you deal with players one-on-one who have suffered long term injuries?
“I think our guys are so really good with each other that, and all of our coaches – all eyes and hands on. Sometimes I lay back a little bit, because everybody kind of gets on with their life, their routine within a couple weeks, and so that is when you really need to pay attention to them. It is hard right now, but I think there are a lot of people here pay attention to our guys who are injured, and love them up as best as they can. But, they will be OK. They are strong guys. I mean, Chico had a really good demeanor after the game – he really did. Sometimes I kind of shake my head and wish I could be that positive sometimes about things like they were. It is what it is, and it happens for a reason. I don’t know what the reason is – that is what Chico says to me. It is a good demeanor. He still has a lot of football left to play.”
What went into choosing Austin Joyner to start in place of Byron Murphy against Colorado?
“Austin, he has played and been around here for a while. He is one of those guys I think can play multiple positions. In high school, I liked him a lot as a running back. He really wanted to be a defensive back. He is awesome on special teams. So, that is what you see. I don’t know if anyone goes harder than Austin on our entire team. He is still learning the position – he didn’t play cornerback in high school. He was more like a safety, a strong safety. And he is good at that, too. I think he can do multiple things. It just depends on the other 4-5 guys that play back there with the best combination when we move those guys around. He can do multiple things.”
Are Andre Baccellia, Byron Murphy and Lavon Coleman still week to week with injuries?
What did you think of Jake Browning overall against Colorado?
“I thought it was solid. I mean, Jake always plays solid. There were a couple plays where you are like, ‘Wow, that is pretty good,’ and people from the stands might not even notice. There are just so many things he does for us mentally, getting us in and out of plays, checking the ball down and those things. He didn’t have the big numbers that sometimes he does, and there are always a couple plays that you’d like to have back – maybe you should have gone there. I thought he had a solid game.”
Have you seen improvement in how Browning manages the offense on the road?
“I do. I can’t tell you how much is on that guy’s plate. One time we had an illegal procedure penalty motioning Chico out of the backfield, and I think it was on the quarterback. We changed the snap count. We’ve got guys coming out of the backfield. We are going on different cadences, and he is checking out of plays, into plays. Let alone, right then if we’ve got a pass on, who is he reading in coverage and all of those things. That just goes on constantly during the game. And I am always worried about that, like can he handle all of this stuff? And he really does at a high level.”
Was the original plan to limit Myles Gaskin’s workload until Pac-12 play started?
“No, I don’t think we were that specific. I mean, we are trying to come out, and we always want to run the ball. We are disappointed from Game 1 if it doesn’t look like we want it to. It is not like some, ‘OK, get him ready for the league.’ – we come out trying to do the best we can from the very start. But we do know it takes a minute. It’s not ready made. It’s not like all summer long, they are working on like how you can throw routes, and timing and all those types of things. That is one thing that is a little bit harder about the run game, you can’t really start working on that until you show up and put some pads on, and start get that timing. You just know it takes a little bit of time. That is one of the things that is really always a work in progress, and sometimes it is two steps forward, and the next game it is a step back (when) a team really hunkers down to see we did this well, so they try and take it away. It is who has the chalk last trying to come up with something different.”
What do you attribute to faster second half starts?
“I don’t know. I’d be making stuff up and talking to talk. It’s the same thing like coming out and not starting fast enough. We think we’re going to come out, we make a few plans. It’s a combination of a bunch of little things. The guys are settling down, taking some of the emotion out of the game, maybe knowing how the guys play against them and us kind of feeling like ‘hey, this is going.’ It’s not any one thing.”
What was the impact of the blocked punt against Colorado?
“I thought the blocked punt was game changing. I thought Quinten Pounds’ play was like ‘wow,’ but I thought the blocked punt was game changing without question. I love those plays when it has to do with special teams and it’s like least expected. I wasn’t even watching, I just heard it. I was looking back at Dante (Pettis) to make sure he was lined up correctly and I’m thinking do we have a block on, they’re in safe punt. Then you kind of go back and watch Jaylen Johnson the punt before rushed the punter and the effort that he gives and then Vita (Via) did the same thing and got his hand on it, and Levi (Onwuzurike) was right there as well. It’s a surprising game a lot of times.”
Would you rather just have your players fall on a blocked punt or try to pick it up and score?
“You could see his reaction afterwards. You scoop and score for sure. There are certain types of fumbles you just fall on and there are certain types you try to scoop and go and that was one. His footing wasn’t good, he slipped a bit. I think he was overly excited and kind of realized he might have a chance. There was a guy right there so I don’t know how far he would have got, but that’s one you probably do want to try to pick it up and go.”
Is there a Dante Pettis effect where blockers on the punt team are more focused on getting downfield and containing him than they are blocking for the punter?
“I think all that can matter, all that adds up. In that case I don’t think that had anything to do with it because those guys that are protecting the punter, they’re in there for just that purpose. They’re not really trying to get out anytime soon. They’re just there to be a brick wall and not let any penetration happen. But when you have a 315-pound plus guy running at you full speed, that’s a lot of mass that can knock brick walls down.”
Assessment of the pass protection?
“It was really good. I thought our offensive line played really well. You could see it probably most in the pass protection because (Jake Browning) was looking around a lot, took off once or twice, but it was just because maybe they were dropping guys into coverage and he was okay there. Obviously later in the game you saw the run game kind of come through. I think the offensive line did a nice job.”
Assessment of Coleman Shelton’s play?
“Coleman (Shelton) is playing at a great level. Every game he’s played he’s played really, really well. For sure one of the unsung heroes on our team. Linemen, offensive linemen - the defensive linemen can kind of show up - but the guy right in the middle of everything, he’s doing a really, really good job for us.”
What goes into the execution of a deep ball like Jake Browning and Quinten Pounds connected on?
“There’s so much timing on that, so much confidence in that, so much repetition in that. Like I said, Quinten Pounds, he can go up and get the ball. He does it many times in practice. This is not the first time that that has showed up like that. I think he just has more to him, Quinten I’m speaking of. He can do that much more than he maybe even does, but it shows up in practice. You’re splitting hairs. Those are awesome plays to watch when you’re on the right side of things because the defense was pretty good. They had a couple guys there. Jake (Browning) threw the ball only where Quinten could probably go get it and Quinten had to go get it to make that play. That’s fun football to watch.”
Have your players talked about the protests happening in the NFL?
“Like I said, we usually talk a lot about those type of topics. We haven’t talked about what has gone on in the NFL because it’s just gone on. And we’re not out for the National Anthem. Like I said, our players know like, just like everybody else in the country, in terms of the stuff that’s going on right now. Very concerned and just like everybody else, everybody else is kind of going ‘wow.’”
What if they approached you with a gesture about pregame?
“I would always listen to those guys. It seems like every coach is doing the same thing. People care about what’s going on in this country, not alone just in sports. I think it’s kind of interesting how strongly it’s, trickled is not the right word, but it’s come into football is the center of all this stuff. Hey, if it can help us change and grow and get better, awesome.”
During pregame warmups in the rain, did you consider joining your players and coming out with your shirt off and trying to intimidate Colorado coach Mke MacIntyre?
“That would have been 1,000 percent the opposite. When they were taking theirs off, I was loading up layers. I was so happy when I went out there and the rain had stopped a little bit — that I wasn’t going to be freezing all game long. I can’t tell. I was really happy walking up and down the sidelines. I don’t know why they do that, but they do.”
Whose idea is that - coach Socha?
“That is not Socha’s idea. It’s certainly the players’, and I think that’s a mindset thing that they want to go out there and none of this bothers me and here we go.”
Does that make you uneasy at all?
“If it helps them play better and gets them excited about going out there — maybe that’s it. Maybe they’re too excited from taking their shirts off and we don’t play well right away. Maybe we need to keep them on. At the end of the day, we can’t always forget why we do this — it’s supposed to be fun and we’re supposed to have a great time with it. If that’s part of it, awesome.”
Early impressions of Oregon State?
“One thing that’s always concerning — we have three teams this year that have a bye in front of us. And no coach likes that. They’re just sitting over there, tweaking their (system), really studying themselves, studying what they do well and what they need to clean up, so it makes you better. And then along with that, they study you for a couple weeks. We’re just last night getting into those guys. I know this: They haven’t done what they’ve wanted to do the first four games. I have tremendous respect for Coach Andersen and his staff in terms of what type of football coaches (they are) and how hard his guys play. I’d go put on the tape of how they played us last night, and it’s a physical crew. Those guys run around. They’re multiple on all sides of the ball. And I know this — I say it and our players know it, most importantly — every week it’s reload and reset and get ready to play our best football. Because if not, everybody sees what happens in college football. And it doesn’t matter what anybody on the outside says. I know how hard and how much pride those guys have and how hard they’ll play us. That’s what I look at when I study them. We’re still in the process of detailing things. By the end of tonight, we’ll have a good idea and a plan what we think our best stuff is against it. That’s what I think: They’re a physical, tough crew that plays hard.”
On school starting at UW this week:
“That is another thing that is a factor. It is a big factor. We’ve been talking about it for a couple weeks, that our schedule changes. We’re morning guys and it becomes even earlier now for us. Our guys just really have to be on it and detailed, because it can catch up to you. The game is about details, so you’re life is about details. And if this detail and that detail is not on it, eventually it adds up very quickly. So that’s the message we’re always talking to these guys (about). This week will be different for them, for sure. And I hope in a good way. I think our guys are really ready to get back into the classroom and see some people besides their coaches in their lives. It’s different. You can make case for the quarter system versus the semester system — I kind of like it when our guys start school when we start playing games and they’re in their routine and this is what they do.”
Is there more structure now with school and limited time?
“Everybody’s got to operate with their certain way of doing business. I think the more structure that we try to give these guys, the better it is. And then they’ve got to make it work for them. But do I think that this thing can show up on the field? Without question. One of the hardest things for college kids to do is to get the proper amount of sleep. Now we’re talking about these elite athletes that really need probably nine hours — who gets nine hours when they’re in the middle of this? And I think that’s a huge thing. I think it’s a really, really big thing. So you equate that with being distracted with a big game, a big midterm, a big quiz — all these things. It is really hard being a student-athlete. I think it’s harder to do this than pro football in terms of organizing your life. You’ve got to be on it, or it will catch up. And we see that a lot. It’s like, what’s going on with this guy? Well, what’s going on is they’re too much going on. You’ve got to get organized.”
Where is the team better at right now compared to this time a year ago?
“I don’t know if we are. Are you talking compared to last year? I think we’ve grown from our first game (this year). I think just playing games and from a confident standpoint it’s like, ‘OK, this stuff works if I trust my coaching, my fundamentals, my techniques and just keeping playing. It doesn’t always go right …’ and all those types of things, I think we’re better than Game 1. But that’s the whole trick is, if we’re sitting here again a week from today and that same question — are we a little bit better? Man, I hope so. Because you don’t stay the same. You just don’t. And if you do, you’re going South. We know that for sure.”