Huskies coach Chris Petersen met with reporters after the first day of UW spring football practices. The entire transcript of his interview is below, but first a couple of personnel notes:
--- There were two players absent from Monday's practice -- RB Deontae Cooper, and CB Naijiel Hale. Petersen said Cooper "will be out there," so that doesn't sound like a significant absence. He said Hale won't practice this week, but could return next week, and declined to specify why.
--- Petersen said he's evaluating the quarterback position as if Cyler Miles might not be here in August, either, but said that the door remains open for Miles to return to the team. He's currently taking an indefinite leave of absence.
(On first day of practice) “It’s awesome to be back out there. Pushing spring back a couple weeks, all into April, so it seems like it’s been a long time. We’ve been lifting, running hard, so it’s good to finally get out there and play football.”
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(On having one more QB available this spring, but still down one) “We do have one more. So we’re going to start with the quarterbacks right away, huh? We’ve got a whole new O-line, a whole new D-line, but we still want to go right back to the quarterbacks? Is that the consensus? OK, quarterbacks are good. They got a lot more throws. You’re right – we have one more arm than we had last spring. You know, it’s really good to be out there. The one (group of) guys who we probably can’t get enough reps for is the quarterbacks. You like to have one guy take every rep but you don’t ever have enough guys, because they need to play football. But you know, three is real manageable, and I think they all got good work today.”
(Too early to read into who’s getting reps, etc?) “You could be asking me this question probably in August and it’s probably going to be too early. We’re going to let these guys compete, and we told them, and we mean this sincerely – we do not have a depth chart at any positions. It is a seating chart, and I hope they move each practice, and a certain guy practices well, whether it’s quarterback, O-line, D-line, that guy needs to be bumped up and get a few more reps.”
(Ahead of where you were last year at this point?) “I think that a little bit, because I think with the coaches and the players that we do have returning, even the kids that redshirted that weren’t here in spring ball, at least they have some fall. So I do think we are a little bit. Now, a lot of those guys were on scout team reps, and now these are real reps, and that’s the beauty of spring ball.”
(Deontae Cooper not here today?) “Deontae will be out there. He will be out there. you’re always going to be short at whatever. You never have enough in spring. Every now and again there’s a position where you actually do have a decent number, but usually in spring, you’re try5ing to practice fast, trying to get a lot of reps. But really, you need to slow things down so we don’t kill certain groups.”
(On the tight ends) “They made some good catches. David Ajamu showed up, making some tough catches, and that’s awesome. David’s a young guy that hasn’t played a lot of football for us, but damn, when I watch that out there today, I’m like, ‘OK, let’s change that seating chart maybe a little bit and give him a little more love out there.’”
(Naijiel Hale not here today?) “Naijiel won’t be out here this week. We’ll see how it goes next week.”
(Reason for that?) “No reason. Well, there’s a reason – a reason between myself and Naijiel.”
(On John Ross at receiver) “You know, we’d like to play John Ross at receiver. We see it like everybody else does – he’s very explosive with the ball. We needed him so badly last year on that secondary side. He did a great job. It just really shows what type of skill he has. But we’d like to play John on offense and get the ball in his hands. Now, whether he’s out here this spring or not … we’re going to be smart with him, and we’ll see about that.”
(On Vita Vea losing weight, and whether he could help replace Danny Shelton) “We need a couple guys to replace Danny. I don’t know if any one guy can replace Danny. So, Vita’s done a really nice job since he’s been here. He’s worked hard, he’s done a nice job in school, he’s done a nice job acclimating to how it goes here, and he’s worked really hard. You can see that in his weight alone. He’s a big man. And so we’ve been proud of how he’s been. Now he gets some real reps, and we’ll see how these 15 practices go.”
(On learning curve for young guys on defensive front seven) “There’s steep learning curve everything — O-line, D-line, even in the secondary. I think we had Sidney and Budda today, and shoot they’re still learning, even though they took every snap last year. Everybody’s still learning. And it only gets more complicated next practice. That was just Day 1 install, so now we really start confusing them.”
(On getting acclimated to new job. Do you ever say, ‘OK, I have it’?) “You never have it. If you have it, you probably need to go do something different. I think it’s always a work in progress. You’re always working and reinventing yourself and there’s always new issues and it’s just problem-solving after problem-solving. We’ve got a long ways to go in a lot of different areas — creating culture and just how we want to practice and schemes. You can go top to bottom. But that’s also what makes it exciting and fun and that’s the beauty of spring ball. We do have 15 practices and there’s good urgency to it, but you don’t have to have it just perfect by Saturday.”
(Do you evaluate the quarterbacks with the assumption that Cyler Miles might not be here in August either?) “Yeah, you never know how the whole thing’s going to go. We evaluate everybody. Guys that are out here, you just never know how that whole thing goes. So the guys that are here we go with. They get more reps and we evaluate the guys that are here and that how it works.”
(Have you left the door open for Cyler to come back?) “Yeah … we’ll see what happens. But we’ve got to go with the guys we’ve got here now and that’s where all of our focus is. We love Cyler and we support him and got his back, without question, every guy on this team (does). But right now we’ve got to go with the guys we’ve got.”
(Anybody jump out and you today?) “I’ve got to put the tape on. I just liked how the guys were running around. I thought there was good energy, good spunk. Now, Day 1 if you don’t have that, you’re probably in trouble. But we did have that. We’ll get a little more dialed in where the drills are and not running around like a chicken with our head cut off on a couple different occasions and be a little more efficient with practice.”
(Devin Burleson was at left tackle and Kaleb McGary was at right tackle (with the twos). Is that etched in stone?) “No. There’s nothing etched in stone. That’s where we start ‘em and give ‘em a fighting chance. I think in the O-line, one thing Coach Strauss has done well over the years is (having) guys play multiple positions. Now, these guys don’t even know one position, but eventually we’ve got to have guys play left and right or some guys play guard and tackle, and some guys play center-guard. You need to do that down the road for depth purposes.”
(With Jeff Lindquist, are you able to put more on his plate at this point and is he able to bring the two young QBs along?) “Jeff knows the system better than the other guys, no question. But I will say, K.J. studied his tail off since he’s been here in the summer, and he has a pretty decent grasp. He does. And Jake being here for, what, two months? He knows where guys are. So I think it’s really good. It’s a healthy competition and it’s nice to see them. They work together well and they’re helping each other, and that’s nice to see as a coach.”