Huskies coach Chris Petersen met with the media following UW's practice this morning. He mostly talked about the selections of Danny Shelton, Hau'oli Kikaha and Shaq Thompson to the AP All-America team, but touched on a few other topics, too. Here's what he said:
(On the three All-Americans) “They are special. Probably my first reaction is, they finally got it right. I think these things are so political so often. A lot of these awards go to the best player on the best teams and those type of things, but I think these are three guys that are truly deserving. I think Shaq is an unbelievable utility special teams guy, let alone a really good football player, whether we played him at linebacker or whatever. I think that was well-deserved and at the right spot. I think it’s really easy for the defensive interior guys, guys like Danny, to be overlooked and to throw some other names out there. I think somebody paid attention to what they were doing and how many tackles Danny has and how he got these tackles. And certainly Hau'oli’s sacks, and that position is going to speak for itself just because of it’s going to show up in such a splashy way.
“I think it’s awesome. My hat’s off to the people that selected this stuff because I think it’s really appropriate.”
(On using All-America selections as recruiting tool) “I think it shows you can achieve so many goals if you do it the right way. The one thing about all three of those guys is they’ve done it the right way. They’re tremendous workers. There are so many things that go on behind the scenes, what these guys do in terms of – I mean, Hau’oli’s up here every night late, locked in a room, we don’t even see him – ‘who left this light on?’ – and he’s in there watching tape. I think Danny’s taken the next step, without question, and Shaq can do it all, so he’s studying all over the place.”
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(Danny Shelton remind you of anyone?) “That’s kind of how we think about it – who does this guy remind you of that you’ve had, of good players? He reminds me of no one I’ve been around, an interior like that that is that strong. I mean, he’s so strong in there to take on double-team linemen, but then when you see him running down the line of scrimmage and making plays on an option or a screen, I think that’s what’s really separated him. He’s got that explosiveness. You can see him at times just knock people back. He’s done it all year, just playing on a consistent basis. Just been so impressive.”
(Danny Shelton’s barrel roll?) “We told him to retire the move. Don’t spoil it. Just move on. We’ll see if he does.”
(Noticed Jay Ajayi from Boise State is All-America?) “I heard that, and I think it’s great. I think he’s a really good player, and he’s been consistent. He’s been consistent last year, this year. So again, well deserved.”
(Having All-America at UW and Boise State send message about staff?) “This is a player’s game, and I don’t think our coaches are under any illusion that to do really good things – they’re doing really good things over at Boise – you’ve got to have good players. A lot of guys have good coaches, and I think you get the combination of those two things, that’s when special things can happen.”
(When’s the time to sit down with Shaq and figure out NFL decision?) “I think it’s after our last game, and I’ll help Shaq and any of our players any way I can. You’ve just got to think about it in terms of OK, if this was your son, what’s the right thing to do for him, and I think when you think like that, it makes things pretty clear most of the time.”
(How to give advice on staying or going) “Each thing, each guy and each position is a little bit different. If you’re a running back you’re getting the ball so much – a little bit like Bishop Sankey last year – as opposed to another position it’s better to come back and you can take that next step and elevate yourself in the draft. I think everything is different. Timing all those things factor into it.”
(Practices dedicated to young guys) “We have been getting our young guys some more reps, but everybody is getting reps. Usually in the past young guys don’t get any reps where we’re really coaching them so we’ve gotten that done. We’re moving forward and we’re trying to get back into this and we’re working really hard to not go out there and go through the motions and get sweaty and not really get better. It’s hard to do that at this time when the game is still a ways away. That’s something we’re challenging these guys with – we’re building skill and we’re getting better or why are we out here?”
(Get into Oklahoma State?) “Pretty deep. We want to have a lot done and then those guys will get some time off and come back to Arizona and go again.”
(What kind of team are they?) “We’re still in the process of really analyzing everything, but I think they’re similar to us. I think they have some very good players. I think they have played some really good teams and they’ve played those teams pretty tough that have been ranked teams, and it hasn’t turned out there for a stretch but you could seem them at the end playing a really good Oklahoma team and getting some things done. So like I said from the start, this is a really good matchup. We’ll have our hands full. I think our guys know this when they’re watching tape. It’s good players and a good matchup.”
(You’ve moved guys to different positions throughout the season. More of that for the bowl game?) “We were kind of doing that a little bit out of necessity. If we can stay relatively healthy through the bowl practices, we’ll try to keep these guys put and try to put the best plan together that we have and let them play fast.”
(Do you take pride in your success in bowl games?) “I think a bowl game is really important to most teams. It’s always been really important to us. I think it’s important for the seniors and it’s important going forward. This is great for the kids. It’s a reward and it’s going to be a good time in Arizona, but I think everybody understands we want to do our best. We want to play our best at the end of the season and this is an important game for us.”