Here's some of what Huskies offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith said today during his weekly media availability. The subject of Shaq Thompson came up.
(On the offense as a whole) “I think we’re always striving to be more consistent. I think that’s been something that each week we can be talking about, just feeling like we can play a little more consistent. We’ve had some highs, we’ve had some lows. I do feel like our effort’s been good in our approach. We’ve got to find a way to be more consistent from one quarter to the fourth quarter, and then week in, week out.”
(Does offense lack identity?) “I think there’s some truth to that. We came in saying we wanted to be a little bit different – a change of pace offense, and then the core is running the football, and so we continue to make attempts there. the problem with that is when you struggle at times to run the ball … you start questioning that. We still feel like we want to change the pace. We still feel like we’re a run the football team. But we need to continue to find ways to be more productive.”
(On Shaq Thompson on offense) “He’s a huge piece. Obviously last week, we’re going to lean on him again this week. He’s just such a difference-maker. And I think some of it, I’ve come to realize, is not just when he’s on the field carrying the ball, but he brings some real leadership to our group that has added a spark to us that has been a pleasant surprise.”
(Surprised at all by how good he’s been?) “Not totally, because we got him in practice and getting a lot of turns and it seemed like every time he touched the ball, something was happening in practice – even back when we were doing it in the spring. So, not totally surprised there.”
(On managing Thompson between both sides of the ball) “Yeah. We have conversations through the week on how, because the guy does need some rest. He plays even on special teams, too. So trying to work that out. I’m selfish, though, because I like him on our side.”
(John Ross playing just defense this week?) “Some of both. He’s done a lot on defense, too, because he needs more turns there. Some of both.”
(Why hasn’t he gotten the ball more?) “I think some of it, other guys have stepped up, a little bit of where the ball has been placed on the reads. We put him in a couple spots and the coverage didn’t dictate for that to go there. Some of all that.”
(On Dante Pettis stepping up) “I think the biggest piece on him is he just works hard, every week in practice, and just continually got better. And last week he made some plays in the game, but that week of practice, he made some plays in practice. And he’s done the same thing this week. We’re hoping for the same thing."
(On UCLA’s defense) “I just know their last outing was really impressive, watching them against Arizona. I think they’re starting to hit their stride defensively. They’ve got some great athletes. They can cover. They can create some havoc up front. It’s a definite challenge for us.”
(On Thompson in pass protection) “I think he’s becoming more comfortable and confident and seeing things in pass-pro. Obviously when we’re handing it to him, he’s got a natural feel. But there’s confidence that comes just from getting reps in pass-pro, and that’s what’s happened.”
(At what point did you decide you needed to look at Shaq Thompson at RB?) “I don’t know if there was a point in time. I do know through conversations with the guy that he had, through the recruiting process, thought about playing a little running back. We knew he had some skill-set there, feeling like he was such a leader, that getting him on both sides would benefit people. And then once we tried a little bit of it, it was like, ‘jeez, yeah, he can flat-out do it.’ And it just went from there.”
(Does he enjoy it more now than in spring?) “I think he likes it. I still think he has the mentality that he likes being on the defensive side, but he’s not complaining with the touches and he’s playing well for us and being productive. But I think deep down, if he had to pick, I think he’d be on the defensive side.”
(On building off a quality offensive performance) “It definitely helps. It’s easier to get back to work when you feel like you did some positive things. Like I talked about, we’re just reaching for consistency. And if we can find a way to kind of get that going in back to back weeks, it’s going to really help us. Because this outfit’s a good challenge defensively, UCLA, and obviously they can score. But coming off a game we did some good things on offense, it makes you feel good.”
(On Cyler Miles’ game at Colorado) “It was efficient. When he’s throwing the ball, he’s made good decisions with it. He’s got to keep the thing protected. We’ve got to figure out a little bit of the shotgun snaps we’ve had issues with, because that gets you out of whack. But watching the film, he was pretty efficient and again, trying to make that slow but steady progress, try to play our best ball at the end of the year.”
(Fumble problem surprising?) “It was, because it hadn’t been showing up at all.”