Huskies coach Chris Petersen spoke with reporters following the Huskies' seventh practice of the spring. One quick note -- he said the reason offensive lineman Dexter Charles has been leaving practice early each day is to attend class, which is what most assumed, I think. Anyway, here's the rest of what Petersen said, including some stuff at the end about Budda Baker's potential as a two-way player.
(On hitting the wall midway through spring) “We probably hit the wall Week 1, at the end. Just mentally. That’s what it is. There’s just so many guys the material is new to. But they’re getting it. You know, it kind of can be ugly at times in spring ball, and really even fall camp. But you’ve got to get it in and get it introduced to them, try to clean it up best you can. The problem is, we keep moving on. Coaches are being smart, so sometimes we hold back, just too overloaded. But sometimes it’s a give and take in terms of how much to give them. But we’re giving them a lot right now.”
(Jake Browning that way?) “I don’t see him as being one of the guys that’s getting overloaded. Now, does he have it in his blood, and is he processing it at quarterback speed every play? No. but I don’t think any of them are, because we’ve got some new things in. but these reps are awesome for all the guys and certainly Jake.”
(On liking where they’re at right now) “I actually really do. I think we’re getting a lot of things done, and we’re close. You have some ugly plays out there and you put the tape on and it’s one guy that it’s something new to him, and it’s like, it’ll get cleaned up. We’ve got a lot of guys that are getting good reps. Some of those guys may not get reps in the fall. Some guys on the sideline right now that we know we’ll have back in the fall. So it’ll all come together. But I think the mentality is good.”
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(On evaluating the offensive line without full pads) “The first thing we’ve got to do is get our assignments nailed down, and we do enough that I will say this – most of our stuff is live to the line. Those guys are the guys that are banging all the time. Those are the guys that we’ve got to think about. Just because they’re not on the ground doesn’t mean that they’re not going full speed and there’s a lot of contact going on. So I think what we need to do there is – and again, we’ve got a lot of scheme there. our o-linemen, some of those guys have to be our smartest guys, with all the different looks they get and all the different pass protection, run schemes, motions that changes their look. So there’s just a lot going on with a lot of new, young guys. And so we’re getting close. At times it doesn’t look like it, but you put the tape on, and you’re going, ‘oh, we’re closer than we think they are.’”
(On the growth of the younger offensive linemen who didn’t play much last year) “Sometimes for the new guys it’s easier to see the growth. Where it’s hard to see the growth sometimes is a guy that’s been around here for a long time, like Sifa (Tufunga). That might be a little bit harder, because it’s very detailed, what he needs to do to take the next step. For some of the young guys, it’s just like, are you heading to the right guy? And you can see that very rapidly.”
(Looks like Dexter Charles has been leaving practice early?) “Sometimes we’ve got class. There’s a thing around here called class. And some guys are close to graduating, so they’ve got to get some class done.”
(Budda Baker a good fit in the return game?) “Oh, yeah. We knew that in high school. So we’ll get him more involved in that whole thing. I think he’s a dynamic guy on both sides of the ball, so he will definitely be factored into our return game.”
(Offense really good on Wednesday, defense better today) “For me as the head coach, those are very hard days, when someone has a really, really good day, because I immediately go to the other side of the ball and think that was a very bad day. But then you come back today and you can see the defense rallies with some turnovers. So it’s kind of the yin and the yang of spring football. That’s why it’s so hard to really gauge one side of the ball. Really what you’re doing is looking at individual pieces, and are guys improving. And then the whole thing needs to come together by August, September, or whenever the game day is.”
(Do you like the back and forth with the offense and defense, with one side dominating one day and the other side the next?) I don’t think you like to see one side totally dominant — me speaking. I know everybody else does; they’ve got their sides drawn. But for me, you’d probably like a little more balance.”
(On Darren Gardenhire’s emergence at cornerback) “I think there’s a lot of young guys that are really — sometimes certain positions can really standout. Certainly the quarterback’s going to stand out good or bad. On defense, the first guys you think about are the corners. You are going to know if they’re doing well or not. I think Darren’s done a really nice job taking the next step around here. If you look closely, which we do, you’re going to see a lot of these young linemen in there really … some great things out there. Sometimes we don’t see it until you put the tape on, but he’s one of those guys who’s had a good spring so far.”
(Feeling now vs. a year ago in spring ball? It looks smoother.) “It feels smoother. I think that’s probably well put. We’re not in the get-to-know-you phase. We know them pretty good; they know us pretty good. So it certainly does feel better in terms of focusing on the details and the fundamentals.”
(What have you learned so far about the quarterbacks?) “I would say that there’s progress being made. That we definitely see. At that position, certainly with these new guys, it’s going to be two steps forward, one step back. But we’re certainly seeing two steps forward. The thing that’s nice is they’re working so hard. All you guys see is a couple hours out here, but it’s nonstop for those guys. They’ll be in there between class and they’ve already got the tape analyzed and watched before we even get to them (for position meetings). So they’re doing everything they need to do.”
(Scrimmage Saturday or just a regular practice?) “It’s practice. Every now and again we’ll get some live pops in there. We have some much work to do that the live thing is kind of down the road. We’ve just got to keep getting assignment sound and fundamentally better."
(On recruiting this spring) “We’ve had a lot of coaches and a lot of players (visit campus). I think it’s been awesome. Fun for those guys. Most of these high schools with do spring ball, but it’s a month or so away, so they’re hungry for a little football. And it’s been really fun seeing a lot of guys through. We have a coaches’ clinic this weekend that we’re real excited about. We’re going to have well over 200 coaches here ... so our guys will speak to them and we’ve got a couple speakers coming in and they’ll watch us practice tomorrow.”
(Feeling the same comfort level with recruiting from year one to year two?) “I think so. Every year, it’s all about the details so we can tighten up this and that. I think our recruiting process is pretty sound. I think that’s one thing from last year…I think even when we came in and had such a late start right away we ended up getting some pretty good players, and then last year to have a full year and a half, so to speak. This year’s no different. We’re always tweaking things, but it’s just a lot of homework is what it is. A lot of time and homework. Everyone talks about spring ball and practice…shoot, there’s as much recruiting going on as there is spring ball.”
(On Darrell Daniels standing out) “No question. I like our tight end group in general. I think tight ends are really hard to find how we like to use them - which is for everything. We’d like to put ‘em everywhere. But that’s easier said than done. Sometimes mentally there’s just so much on their plate they can’t handle that. And then physically to run like a receiver, block like a lineman, catch like a wideout - those are all hard things. That’s a good group and those guys can handle a lot and they are making strides. I think Darrell is doing a good job being a leader and making plays.”
(What’s the plan for the running back group given how much you already know about Coleman and Washington?) “That’s what it is. One thing we know; that running back position takes a pounding. Those are the guys we’re always trying to be smart with in the spring. To get full speed, almost live reps - we don’t take them to the ground very much, but we have to do that on occasion because that whole ball security thing changes when the bullets are flying for real. But the guys that haven’t carried it as much will get more reps, still got a lot of practicing in the fall and it’s all about peaking at the right time.”
(Emphasizing in recruiting the aspect of guys like Shaq, Ross, Budda being two-way guys?) “Yeah…what we’re always trying to do is get our best guys on the field. If Shaq was our best guy there then he’s going to go and if Budda’s our best guy he’s going to go there and John Ross - we’re going to do that. I keep saying, it’s easier said than done. There’s so much there mentally and fundamentally and all those things. But if a guy can handle it and makes us better, we’ll obviously do it.”
(Can Budda handle it?) “I think he can. I know he can handle a portion. We’ll see how much.”