UW coach Chris Petersen addressed the media for his sixth Monday press conference of the regular season as the team prepares to play against Cal on Saturday:
“Excited for this week. Last week was good. I think every week we’re learning more and more about our guys, our team. Some of our guys are learning how to play and compete how we want them too and work through tough things. I think that’s what the film showed. I think it was good. I think our guys are excited for this new challenge this week, which I think it will be a really good challenge. I was watching the Cal film and have a lot of respect for those guys, how hard they’re playing, what they are doing.”
On the ties with Cal, specifically with Justin Wilcox and his progression to head coach:
“I just think he’s a good football coach. I’ve known that for a long time, whether he’s running the defense or a whole team. He knows how to coach the guys, get ‘em going.”
Did you ever get a sense as to when you thought Wilcox would be a guy that would eventually be a coach at the Power 5 level?
“I think it’s apples and oranges. Some guys don’t want to be it, some guys are forced into it by circumstance. I get that. I didn’t know if he wanted to do it or not.”
What were your early impressions of Wilcox at Boise State where he was a graduate assistant, then a defensive coordinator?
“Good coach. One of those good coaches. Been around enough guys that you know good coaches when you see ‘em. That’s what I thought.”
What did you see on the Oregon State tape between the first half and the second half with the UW offense?
“A little bit of an awkward first half to describe because we were doing some things. We were moving the ball. We got into some third-and-long situations that made it kind of hard on us a little bit. We’re moving it and we get a holding penalty, sacks. Sacks really hurt us, which they always do. It’s like a big penalty in a lot of ways. I think all our sacks came in the first half, if I’m not mistaken, so it’s like a penalty here and there. That set us back on our heels a little bit and didn’t allow us to get into a great rhythm. It’s the typical offensive thing where it’s one thing and everybody else is okay, but the one thing, the one guy just destroyed the whole play. And it wasn’t a bunch of that, but it was enough to stymie us and keep us out of the end zone.”
Did you get the sense that Jake Browning was more aggressive and confident in his decision-making in the second half?
“No. I thought he was fairly aggressive in the first half as well. He might have been in a little bit more of a rhythm in the second half but I thought he was looking for things. There were one or two things that we ended up scoring on - one pass he was a little bit high to Dante. I think Dante can make that catch and I think Jake can throw a better ball. We ended up scrambling and scoring a touchdown anyways. There’s one or two things he probably would have preferred to go in a different direction with the ball, he might have gotten a completion. It’s a lot of those little details that, for whatever reason, didn’t add up in the first half.”
What are the challenges of facing Cal quarterback Ross Bowers?
“He moves well. The guy gets the ball out pretty quick. He’ll throw in there against tight coverage. He trusts his receivers. And, there are some throws in there that are really, really impressive. He gets them into tight spaces and puts it right on the money.”
In general, do you want to flush him out of the pocket?
“We’re definitely not trying to flush anybody out. We want to keep him in the pocket. He can definitely get out of the pocket. He is mobile. He can scramble. I think he’s looking to throw the ball down the field, so you’re always trying to keep guys in the pocket.”
Could these slow starts be the personality of your team on the road?
“I would hope not. Yeah. I don’t know.’
Was it the game plan to take deep shots in the passing game against Oregon State?
“It is always reacting (to what OSU was showing us). Sometimes we’ll call plays definitely trying to throw it downfield and it doesn’t go downfield because teams are just not allowing it. But it’s always in our offense (depending on) what the coverage dictates. When the coverage was tighter … we were trying to get guys to run by them.”
Is the slow starting offense a concern?
“Everything that doesn’t work is a concern. You guys don’t need to ask me that. I mean, if we don’t kick the ball off correctly, that is a concern. … It’s always a concern. Everything is. We’re not, ‘OK, hey we are good with that.’ I don’t know why you’d ask that question. Name something else that wasn’t good, it is going to be the same thing.”
How do you fix the slow starts on offense then?
“We’re going to address it. We’ll talk to our guys. How do you fix the turnover situation when it’s not going in your favor? It’s the same thing – you practice on it, move things up in practice and get it going a little bit more. It’s not because they are not trying, so you’re always trying to be creative as coaches to fix every single problem that you have.”
You hold morning practices, so how do you simulate late kickoffs?
“Yeah. Yeah. Boy, we love being morning guys, too. Maybe if we had to do it over, we’d practice at 7:45 at night, and let them sleep in in the morning and go to class and all that, I don’t know. That is the reality. And I just want to say something to our fans: we apologize for these late games. And I’d also like to reiterate it has nothing to do with us or the administration. We want to play at 1 o’clock. It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure. No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it. We haven’t had a kickoff before 5 o’clock this season. And so it’s painful for our team, it’s painful for our administration and we know certainly the most important part is for our fans. It is what it is. We only have five home games left, and we just really hope that the fans come out and have a good times with us watching college football. And so, that is hard. I don’t think we’re going to play any early games. We’re not counting on it. That is how it goes in our league.”
Has there ever been any discussion in the offseason to try and be more equitable with kickoff times?
“I have not heard that. I haven’t. I wish I would. It is really frustrating to everybody on the West (Coast).”
Is it important to raise your voice on this issues?
“I don’t they even kind of care about my voice, or probably any of the coaches’ voices. I don’t think there is one coach out there, or probably school in the West that wants to play our games at late night and all of that. Everyone wants to play in the daytime. So it is what it is.”
What is resolution on this issues?
“None that I’ve heard. I know coaches aren’t going to make a difference in terms of when they want to play. It comes from a little bit higher up the food chain.”
Does television have too much power in college football?
“We already know everything and so much of this and what we do comes down to money. TV contracts are big. They tell us when to play.”
Do you believe in the craziness of “Pac-12 After Dark,” and all the silly things that happen in late night games?
“Explain that, and what do you mean by that? … I don’t think that has anything to do with playing late games. Put us on at 11 o’clock, and you are likely to see the same things. You can see the game better; there is more light.”
How did you handle playing at odd times, and on odd days while coaching at Boise State?
“It was probably a little bit harder there because there was no rhythm, because we were on so many different days. That situation probably helped us way back when, because nobody else was playing on a Tuesday, Wednesday and all of those things. We were doing well, so it kind of got people’s attention.”
What went into the fourth-and-10 play to Lavon Coleman?
“Well, I think that’s just a great example of our week and preparation. I think the first guy to bring it up in terms of just kind of knowing that defense was Matt Lubick. Being in this league and has seen a lot of things. ‘If they bring this blitz we need to run the ball weak the other way, regardless of the situation or circumstances going to be big.’ Then it goes to Jonathan (Smith) certainly and they discuss it and then he passes it on to Jake (Browning) to get him dialed in on the checks and away we go. That’s how we just do a lot of things. Certain guys are always talked about, the quarterback, the head coach, all those things. But it’s like we do well because of the great staff we have with everybody making tremendous contributions.”
How many times does Jake Browning check a play during a game?
“That’s a good question, we could know exactly. You know, I don’t know, it’s probably in the 30-percent, somewhere around there, 30- to 40-precent.”
Is that a typical number for quarterbacks you’ve coached?
“No. I mean, it just really depends on your style. If you’re a really go fast team, you’re not checking anything. You’re just going fast and hoping you get them out of position. We do a little bit of that. Sometimes teams that really huddle up and go slower, like NFL, those guys are going to check maybe all their plays to make sure they’re not running into a bad look. We do a little bit of both.”
Does Van Soderberg go into Saturday as your starting kicker?
“We’re still working on that and still competing and all those things. I think that’s important, we do that thing the right way. We’re always just trying to help our guys improve and get better with healthy competition that goes with it. I think both of those guys are capable kickers. We’ll just kind of keep competing and kind of make a decision at the end of the week.”
Are the struggles for Tristan Vizcaino mental or physical?
“You know, I’m not a kicker, so it’s hard for me to really give great information on that. I’m not really a golfer either, I’ve golfed more than I’ve kicked. I know that can be quite a mental process. I’ve said this before. I think this game is such a game of confidence. You start to make some, you start to get in a great rhythm and don’t and just miss them and you can start thinking about some things. We just have to get him back into a rhythm. Like I said, he’s got a really big leg and can do some good things. We’ll just keep competing.
What are Van Soderberg’s strengths and what’s his range kicking?
“Not as far as Tristan (Vizcaino) at this point. I think both those guys are accurate kickers. In practice they do a pretty darn good job. They really do. Van (Soderberg), he’s improved his kickoffs and his field goals from where he was a year ago certainly. Still getting better which is exciting, see where that progression is going to go.”
How has Jake Browning’s ability to make the right call developed?
“He’s always been able to do a lot, but I think you have to be in this system for quite a while, so not every little thing you have to think about. Certain things are just second nature in terms of looks that we don’t like, how we call our cadence, how we check our cadence. We check it different ways. It’s not always the same. Some of that has to really be in your blood so you’re not just bogged down by all these mental processes. We’ve continually just kind of grown and grown the package. He doesn’t flinch on it at all. I think Jonathan (Smith) does a really good job of getting him on the same page and he gets it.”
Will you still continue to get Lavon Coleman plenty of work?
“Yeah, absolutely. And not only on offense but Lavon does a lot of special teams as well.”
Update on Chico McClatcher, was surgery scheduled?
“Went well. It went well, now just a bunch of time to heal up.”
How much of a process was it Saturday of replace McClatcher on the field?
“Not really. And I don’t say that, I mean Chico has got a unique skill set. He’s such a curveball. He’s a hybrid. Like I said we haven’t put him in the backfield and handed him the ball this year, but he can do that. He can do a lot of different things so that is his unique skill set. That’s the beauty of him, he’s hard to say exactly what he does best except when he gets the ball in his hands. So we move other guys around and this guy might get one or two of his reps and another guy can kind of do this. That’s kind of how we do it, piece it together.”
Looks like Austin Joyner took out a couple of Oregon State players. Is he an enforcer type?
“I didn’t realize both those guys got hurt. And I didn’t know it was Austin. I just know that Austin plays hard. He goes one speed. We’ve been kind of saying that all along, he’s a good guy to have out there. He plays very hard. He’s a physical player for sure.”
How much of the WSU-USC game did you watch?
“I haven’t studied the game. I watched parts fo it. I saw parts of it. Two good teams going at it there. It’s good football. I think that’s the Pac-12. I just really do. I keep saying that. Oregon State is not where they want to be right now, but 7-0 at halftime and I mean there might have been a lot of people surprised but I wasn’t. I know that can happen. I really do, I mean that sincerely. I think there is a lot of good football in this conference and on any given Saturday it’s like ‘well, what happened, no, what happened?’ That’s how it is. There is good players and good coaches and emotions are different and one team is kind of clicking a little bit more than they normally do and the other team maybe isn’t and all of a sudden it’s a completely different game.”
How much did you notice the Beavers change things up coming off the bye week?
“I just think that they have a lot, like I said last week, they have a lot of defense, a lot coming at you and their game planners so it’s hard to know exactly. I don’t think there was much new that we hadn’t seen on tape at least this year or last year even, but it’s hard to really get prepared for all of it. That game kind of went like I thought in terms of a lot of different blitzes and predictability on the low end of when this is coming or when that is coming.”
Impressions of how Sean McGrew is doing with kickoff returns?
“We’ve got to block better for those guys, that I know on kickoff return. It’s hard to say much about those guys when they’re not getting much of an opportunity to do much.”
Comparisons between the offense Cal is running under offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, and the one he had at Eastern Washington?
“Looks very similar. Again, lot there. Very multiple. Will do whatever he needs to do to move the ball. If that means throw every down or run it, it looks very similar.”
You’re calling for a #PurpleOut Saturday night — that mean purple uniforms?
“I guess the cats out of the bag: If we’re asking (fans) to wear purple, we’ll wear some purple too. You know, purple’s our color. You saw the shirts our marketing guys came up with. We like the traditional unis. I think our players like the traditional — that’s kind of who we are. But every now and again it’s good to switch it be and it’ll be really cool to see a stadium full of solid purple.”
So the team will wear purple from head to toe?
“It’s going to be purple. That’s what I’ll say. It’ll be purple. We’ve got purple unis, I know that.”
And purple helmets?
“I don’t know about that.”
Have you sensed a movement away in the game today from the super uptempo offenses that were so en vogue a few years ago? Oregon State was the second team you played that totally tried to take the air out of the game:
“I think we’re kind of at a place where the tempo offenses — there’s still a bunch of those and they’re effective and they score points. They really do. I think people have seen those for a long time, so it’s not just necessarily the hot new thing to do (when) everybody was jumping on that. Now you’ll see a little more huddle-up, more varied tempo — everybody getting back to their own personal style. Now, again, like three years ago you probably saw five times that might’ve huddled up and gone slow. That’s just what they do. I think some of that now, with what we’ve seen the first few games, I think that was a little bit of their strategy in playing us — slowing down more so than they would anyways.”
Doesn’t that slow play fit into the strengths of your defense?
“It can. Our defense is going to see less plays. The theory behind going fast is more plays is going to do the math, I guess, equal more points. If you look at it across the board, that’s what it does. So (slowing down) probably does help our (defense). You can see the other side of the strategy (from them) — hey, let’s keep it close, let’s get into the fourth quarter and then anything can happen. There’s always unique strategies for everything, and I think that’s the beauty of college football. Those strategies are across the board and it’s different every week.”
Would you ever consider changing your practice schedule to start later?
“We wouldn’t change it this year, for sure. Our schedule’s set with school and all that. I just don’t think the guys like that better. Once they start practicing in the morning, it’s well into the 90-plus percentile with the guys whether they want to go (later). We say, ‘We eat the frog around here. We eat the frog.’ You get the hard part of your day out of the way. So to have to go through school and then you’ve got practice hanging over your head — I know players I’ve had who have had both schedules, when you experience them both you really, really appreciate the morning schedule. Now, if it starts messing with the biorhythms of our bodies and all that, if that could somehow be documented then you’d maybe have to look at that. But I just know as the week goes it’s just a healthier, better schedule to get the guys up (early) and get them going and get that (practice) done and then they go do their academics.”
Have you had afternoon practices over the course of a season?
“We did at Boise. We had afternoon practices, about 1:30. That’s just the way the class schedule (worked out). I know that’s how it was done here in the past, maybe 4 o’clock practices. (But) that’s a long time. Then it goes into the evening with meetings and whatever. It’s hard.”
Coleman got nine carries Saturday. Were you trying to ease him back into action?
“No. We wouldn’t ease him. He’s either totally healthy in those situations or he doesn’t play at all. It was good to get him back going.”