Here is everything Huskies coach Chris Petersen said after the Huskies’ 48-13 victory over Rutgers on Saturday at Husky Stadium. There were no injuries of note.
(Opening) “Pleased with our fellas. They worked hard for eight months. A lot of practicing. Practicing’s not the game, we all know. So I’m really pleased with how fast they started. The first quarter was really, really good on both sides, all three phases, and it’s nice to get some more explosive plays on offense, deep ball going a little bit. Figured those guys would load the box up pretty good to try to stop the run, which most do, so you’ve got to be explosive in the pass game, and that was taken care of for the most part. Proud of our defense for getting turnovers. Proud of them flying around and playing at a high level of defense. It was good to get out of the gate fast, especially when there were so many unknowns – unknown staff, unknown players, all those kind of things, on both sides, our side and theirs.”
(What did it mean to have John Ross back?) “It meant about 21, 28 points. John is as fast and explosive as they come, so that’s a nice weapon for our offense to have. Give the other guys a chance to develop, because it can’t just be the John Ross show. People will figure out how to slow that down fast. But I think it’s really nice to come out of the gate and make some plays there so people have to pay attention to that closely. We do have some other firepower, and that should help balance things out, I think.”
(How much did the unknowns with Rutgers play a factor?) “Well, I just think the unknown of even like how our defense would respond from being off for a long time. Different style of offense we hadn’t really seen. You just don’t really know the opponent. Just all those type of things. They ran a couple plays where we were like, what is that? One looking like they’re going to run it and they pull it and throw a little pop pass that we really hadn’t worked on or seen. We almost made a play on it but they made a nice play. Just a lot of those type of things. I think their No. 1 is an explosive player. They tried to get him the ball and we rallied and did a good job. I thought Tristan Vizcaino did a nice job on kickoffs, not giving them a bunch of opportunities. You keep kicking the ball to a guy like that, he’s going to get something done – you can see late in the game, he was starting to get a little bit of rhythm returning those kicks, so I thought he did a good job.”
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(What was more important: the initial stop on defense, or the first touchdown?) “I think it was just really nice to get ‘em both. The defense swarming and knocking ‘em back, then to come back and strike with a big play. I thought Jake did a good job, because it’s not really part of his progression unless he gets a certain matchup. So he saw the matchup and took advantage of it. I thought he threw three really nice deep balls, where the ball was turning over and giving those kids a chance to run under them. One left his hand a little bit flat and even Superman, John Ross, can’t run under those when the ball is thrown too flat. Jake quickly adjusted and threw the ball like he was supposed to, and it was good for us.”
(Were there plays Jake checked into that weren’t available last season?) “Without question. There was a handful of others that he left alone, that he needed to leave alone, because they weren’t showing a different look. There was a lot of checks going on out there, and he sees a lot of it, and I thought he did a pretty good job with it.”
(How nice was it to have John Ross back?) “Real good. We waited a long time to get him back, and it was nice to see him score touchdowns.”
(On Chico McClatcher’s touchdown setting the tone) “I think it was real important. I think to get a big play, like I said, Jake, not even his primary read on that, just looking at matchups, I think the way our defense was playing, then being able to strike quickly, was really important. We didn’t necessarily talk about starting fast. That’s always important part. But we weren’t really going there. we were just wanting them to play with great energy and play fast and not think, and they did that.”
(On Jake's mechanics and deep balls) “I just think it's, you know, just the trajectory that's changed a little bit. I don't think it's mechanical, I just think how he's throwing it, he's putting more air under it. We always think that, that you put air, the ball will turn over and it gives those guys a chance to use their speed and run under it. I think there is nothing more frustrating when you're throwing a deep ball and you don't give a guy a chance to make a play on it. Whether it gets thrown out of bounds... just over throw 'em. We threw one that was a little bit short and Dante got the pass interference on it so that's another good thing. We'd like to be able to give our guys chances to make plays on the ball. I thought Jake did a great job with that today.”
(Punt and kick returns) “That's coach Gregory. He got off to a good start didn't he? Yeah. It's good. THe thing is, you get some talented guys back there and then all those other guys up front, if they're doing their job, we have guys that can find creases and use their speed. John Ross and that kickoff return team did a nice job because that's one of the harder things in football and certainly in special teams. TO really hold your block on the kickoff return. Those guys are running full speed... you're running full speed backward trying to find your guy and then you gotta engage him when he's going full speed and try to stay on him for a couple seconds. When you can do that, really good things will happen. And we know when Dante gets a little space he can do something as well.”
(On long plays helping down the road) “It's really hard, and we did this last year and we'll do it again this year, but it's hard to score touchdowns when they are 12 and 14 play drives consistently. I think we'll become real efficient... we can do that. But it's too hard to win games when all your drives are like that. You have to score with some explosive type plays to really have the type of offense you want and so we got some explosives today and I think that changes things. It changes execution and explosive plays, it fosters and fuels and fires energy and emotion for the team. They start to feed off each other.”
(On four true freshmen who played) "Brandon Wellington. Really good to see him in there mixing up in the box. Got him on special teams a little bit. Taylor Rapp has done a great job since he's been here from the very start in spring ball. He's an extremely smart player and a really good tackler so it's nice to see him out there. Aaron Fuller got his feet wet out there. Nick Harris got in the game, which was good, and you just kind of chuckle about Nick Harris because we thought all along he was a heck of a football player. We didn't think he was going to come in here, 17 years old, and play on our O-Line right away but we knew he was pretty good. So much for all the recruiting experts... won't point any fingers anywhere...”
(If you’re going to nitpick, the running game...) "I'm not nitpicking... you are... So if you are... yeah. There's always gonna be stuff to work on for sure. It's good to be able to score a bunch of points and go back and nitpick, which we will and we do. We gotta do some things in the red zone and all those types of things. Third downs can get cleaned up. But it's just good to make some plays out of the gate and there's plenty on the table there for us not to be feeling that great about ourself.”
(How much can you gage from win like this) “I think it's one game. THat's what I really think. I mean I think our guys have worked (and I really say this and I mean this) they've worked hard for 8 months. From lifting to conditioning and running. They've done everything we've asked in a really focused way and so now they came out and played game one really focused. But that's what I think it is. It's game one and they did a good job with what we asked them to do right out of the gate and a lot of football left to be played.”
(Big deal for team to see Ross deliver?) “They've been seeing John Ross here for many months now, run fast and make plays. I think they know what he can do and kind of expected it. I think it's nice to see Jake hook up on big plays like that to say, ‘OK. Here we go.’ I mean I think it's nice to run plays against somebody that hasn't seen them over and over like the defense has seen for a long time and keep a defense a little bit off balance.”