Huskies Insider Blog

Chris Petersen on Huskies’ CFP ranking: ‘There’s a lot of football left to be played. What else is there to say?’

Chris Petersen on UW's 2018 game vs. Auburn

UW coach Chris Petersen says the Washington vs. Auburn game "has been in the works for a long time." He said it's "great to get it on the schedule."
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UW coach Chris Petersen says the Washington vs. Auburn game "has been in the works for a long time." He said it's "great to get it on the schedule."

Huskies coach Chris Petersen met with reporters this morning for the final time before Washington’s 7:30 p.m. Saturday game at California. Here is what he said:

(On the 2018 Auburn game and why it’s the right time to do something like that game) “That’s been in the works a long time. People think we go out and just add something tomorrow. It’s not that easy. It’s awesome. We get to play a team from the SEC and worry about that down the road. But it’s great to get it on schedule.”

(Does the talk about non-conference schedules impact that at all?) “Like we say, no. But we’re always trying. Jen (Cohen) works her tail off on trying to figure out the best mix, the best blend that helps us, helps our fans and people want to see.”

(What’s your relationship like with Jen Cohen?) “Really good. I was as excited as anybody when she got the job here. She’s really good at what she does and cares about the student-athletes and this program and the coaches…really good.”

(What do you remember from that neutral site experience? (BSU win over Georgia in Atlanta)) “It wasn’t too neutral, which it’ll probably be the same thing. When you’ve got to go clear across the country and they drive there it’s not too neutral. It’ll be a great venue and I think it’s a new stadium even. So all that will be great and we’ll do something cool with our players when we go back east and we’ll figure that out when that time comes.”

(Cool inside a dome. Much tougher to play in Alabama in September) “There’s no question. We’ve been through that before. You cannot recreate that humidity. You can recreate heat, but it’s not the same. It’ll be good to have a little temperature control.”

(What’s the team’s response been after the playoff rankings came out?) “I think it’s good. Our reaction to that is, there’s a lot of football left to be played. What else is there to say? And I’m not even talking about everybody else. I’m talking about ourselves. There’s just a lot of football left. How much happens in November? Everything. They get that and let’s just go play in November.”

(Some people have mentioned the disrespect card. Have you even talked about that with the team or played that up at all?) “This thing is all gonna work out how it’s supposed to if we can take care of business, which is one week at a time. Which is worrying about Cal.”

(Cal averages around 87, 88 plays a game. Does that influence your playcalling on offense to keep the defense as fresh as possible?) “Okay. Now you’re talking about what we should be talking about. Usually it comes about 30 seconds into a 20-minute conversation, but yeah. This is a really awkward, hard to defend offense. Every stat proves that out. Not just yards - everyone wants to talk about that and passing, but points at the end of the day. So you’re always in this together as a team. Our offense has to do what they need to do and what they think this is the best way to score points but we’re always mindful of possessing the ball, and this team runs a lot of plays and our defense is out there, so how do we help that out. So we try and take that into consideration.”

(Both teams have allowed 14 sacks, but Cal has thrown it 200 more times. What is that about?) “Any time they do that good of a job it’s going to be a combination of things. I always go back to the quarterback, first and foremost. He might get hit, the ball might be incomplete, he might throw it in the stands, but that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. And those can be big plays to keep you in manageable downs. And obviously they do a good job of pass protecting. They always have. They’ve got those big linemen and they create that pocket and he’s a big tall guy that can throw on his back foot. That’s what I think is a little unique about him is that his arm is so strong he doesn’t have to have this perfect pocket. That he can get out and he can throw, which not a lot of guys can.”

(On Cal’s running backs) “I think their running backs are excellent. I really do. And that’s the trap that you can fall into, that if it’s all about the pass game – which when you look at all these stats, it is about that – but you watch the tape and where they hurt guys, they run the ball certainly well enough to beat you. And I think those running backs are excellent players.”

(On Cal’s defense) “I think they have a good scheme. I think it’s always interesting when you look at stats, they can be misleading. You put the tape on, and it’s like, ‘OK, this is a problem. That’s a problem.’ So I always think that’s interesting. I think the last game was a hard game on them, when USC was rested up … short weeks are hard anyway, and I do think that makes a difference. So now they’re at home, now they’ve had a couple of extra days for us, and so all those little things at this point in the season I think matter.”

(On Cal running trick plays) “I think they always have a little wrinkle every game. They always do. They’re pretty creative. They run their system, but they’re going to come out with something that we haven’t seen. So we have to trust our rules and go play.”

(On why ‘Pac-12 After Dark’ is a thing, and what makes those games so crazy) “I mean … no. I don’t know. I thought you were going a different direction with that, (like) do we like the night games. I think we know the answer to that. I was hoping that if you keep winning – I was trying to tell it, ‘hey, if we keep winning, we play at a good time.’ Well, that’s out the window now, too. They’re just going to put you wherever.”

(Surprised to get a late kickoff when you’re playing this well?) “No. I’m not surprised by anything when it comes to scheduling and times. I just hold my breath, and when I see like a 3:30 or something like that, we throw a parade for five minutes.”

(On Cal receiver Chad Hansen) “Well, he’s the leading receiver in the conference for a reason. What happens is – I always say this – if there’s one really good guy, you can kind of put your sights on him and maybe do some things. But I think they’ve got a few really good receivers. The other guys have stepped up in the last few games when he hasn’t been there. Now we’ve got three to five guys that we really have to deal with, and the QB is going to throw it to who’s open. He’s always going to get him his touches, but when you throw it that much, everybody’s getting touches.”

(On Cal’s offense being similar to other spread offenses) “I think this is different. Everybody calls them spread, but it’s unique. It’s different. Washington State’s spread is different than this, and yet the Cal-Washington State families are similar. But it’s different than Washington State’s. It’s unique. From splits to everything they do, wide receiver splits. It’s different.”

(On Jeff Lindquist being up for a community service award) “Jeff Lindquist needs to be up for awards, and probably more than one, and win it. He’s just a great guy. I don’t think there’s anything better you can say about somebody when you’re around them that long, and no matter what happens to them you go, he’s just a five-star person, is what that guy is. You see guys in your career who you’re really anxious to sometimes fast forward the clock in about 10 years and see what he’s doing, and Jeff is certainly one of those guys, because you know it’s going to be something special.”

(Has the team improved over the past few weeks?) “I think they’re working hard. I think they’re focused in. I think we played a really good team on the road last week that can cause some problems. And so we’re always anxious to get back and kind of reload. Some of the things that we didn’t do as well last week, can we build on that? And then some of the things we didn’t do as well last week, will we even see those again? Usually some of the things you didn’t do well is going to be part of somebody’s plan pretty soon. So did we fix those? That’s why we’re anxious to get back out there?”

(On not picking up blitzes against Utah) “We had two I think that we misidentified and they got to Jake, and those can be game-changing. Both ways, because if we pick him up, we think we’ve got something. So living and learn.”

(On Myles Gaskin looking fresh this late in the season) “He does. Knock on wood, it’s always about staying healthy. And there’s always a plan there at that running back position because it’s a long season. I think he does. But I think this point in the season is all about our entire team — how do we keep them fresh? Not only physically, but mentally as well. Here we are again, another Thursday practice: Are we just kind of going through the motions? It’s hard not to, you know. It is hard not to. So we’re trying to be creative in terms of not only how to save physical reps but also keep them fresh mentally.”

(On depth at this point in the season) “That’s one of the things that our coaches have done a pretty good job of. You might not here their name being called a whole lot, but I think 1, they get a decent amount of practice reps and I think that’s kind of interesting because some guys — I was watching today — have gotten a lot of reps and we’re smart about spreading the reps out. So maybe a guy is not getting a ton in the game but if something happens I think they’re really ready to go in and play and win. Because you have to be. Those reps you’ve taken all year long add up in a good way, but they can also add up in a bad way — that’s just a lot of wear and tear, and bodies can break down easier this time of the season.”

(You obviously don’t want to see guys like Joe Mathis and Jake Eldrenkamp go down, but is getting extra time for guys like Nick Harris, Andrew Kirkland, Connor O’Brien a silver lining?) “I think that’s the only way you can look at it. You can’t sit there and dwell on what you don’t have. You’ve just got to say, hey, these guys are getting valuable experience and they’re going to continue to improve rapidly. I think that’s how every coach looks at stuff like that.”

(Are you seeing teams approach Browning differently the last couple weeks?) “No. I think everybody worries — they look at us, they look at the opponent and they do what they do. So they’ll figure out, OK, what’s the best way to slow this crew down with what they do? Nobody comes up with a new — I don’t think that’s good coaching to come up with something (entirely new in one week). They’ve shown it and they might emphasis it more (one week); they might disguise things more. But I know from our side of things, when we’re changing things this late and giving guys three days, OK, here’s a new thing. We might have a wrinkle and it’s hard to get those wrinkles just right in a short time.”

(On UW’s run defense) “I think it always starts with tackling. That’s another thing that’s really hard to work hard on at this part of the season. But we do. Now it’s not live. … So it starts with tackling and it starts with getting off blocks and maybe even in a reverse order, having great eyes and doing your job.”

(How many “live” periods do you have this time of year?) “We don’t have live periods ever. We don’t ever tackle the running back down to the ground, ever. That doesn’t mean the lines aren’t going very close to the live and all those things — we do get some of that. But in terms of tackling guys and bringing them down, we don’t do that.”

(There are stories this time of year about coaches sleeping in their offices, working 20-hour days … how do you guys handle this time of year?) “Like we always do, we for sure do not sleep in the office. We put enough time in here as it is. If anything, in our program — from practice time to our kids to our coaches — we try to cut down things. We try to get out of here earlier. Now that’s hard for the coaches to do that, but we’re certainly not going to stay longer. That’s exactly what we’re talking about — (staying) fresh, mental, physical. It’s across the board for everybody in our program.”

(How important is it for you to have your coaches get home, see family, etc.) “And that is so hard to do during the season. First and foremost, can we just get them home to get rested and have a chance to have some energy the next day. And a day like to today, on Thursday, guys get out of here early — unless they’re doing an interview for so long and they can’t get out of here to see their families.”