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Quoting Chris Petersen on the election results, new uniforms, USC’s run game and more

Chris Petersen says Huskies had team meeting to discuss election

UW coach Chris Petersen talks about the conversation he and his players had following the election, about Veterans Day and more.
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UW coach Chris Petersen talks about the conversation he and his players had following the election, about Veterans Day and more.

Huskies coach Chris Petersen met with reporters for about 14 minutes earlier this morning. Here is everything he said, including his comments about the team’s “salute to service” uniforms, the presidential election results and more.

(On changing the gold helmets to black) “This whole thing about changing uniforms is about one thing. It’s about appreciating our military. The more people can go, ‘why are they changing their uniforms?’ that’s a good question to ask. It’s about our military. I think it’s the perfect time of what’s going on right now in our country and that’s just our way to acknowledge and thank ‘em. “All of our players have a name of somebody that has serve that is connected to U-Dub on their jersey this week. Let alone the American flag W on the helmet. Our team couldn’t be more proud to go out and honor that. That’s why we’re changing uniforms.”

(Did you guys get together as a team and talk about the election?) “First thing I walked in I had a bunch of guys saying ‘We having a team meeting?’ So we certainly did talk about it. It’s a hard time. It’s an interesting time. We still live in the greatest country in the world, and we can’t lose sight of that, no matter who is President. I just believe that and I think we can’t lose sight of what our military has done for us, for us to be able to play this game today. And I really believe that. That was part of the whole conversation.”

(Are guys worried about the election result? Are they upset?) “I think there’s a lot of people. What you see in the country is what you see when you have a lot of guys on your team. So yeah. And I think that’s a good thing. I want guys to be, no matter who wins, concerned. Because there’s a lot of different beliefs. That’s part of being here at Washington, is to get these kids educated. Not just on psychology and physics and those type of things, but to be able to think for themselves on the big picture and what’s going on. That’s the most important thing, in my opinion. So I’m glad that they are thinking about these things and these topics are important to ‘em.”

(Has there been any tension about it from the players leading up to the election?) “We’ve talked about these things, like I’ve told you guys, since last year. Through the summertime. To me this whole thing is similar to the Brexit issue that we’ve already had that conversation months ago. And this is like, this is so similar. It’s appropriate for us, and it’s hard to take time out of the day to when we don’t have much time with these guys to talk about some of these issues. And it’s really important to ‘em, and so we need to talk about ‘em.”

(Can it be a distraction to their work on the field?) “I think yeah. You can be distracted by a lot of different things. When stuff is on their mind, whatever it is, it’s important to talk about it. Whether we’re talking about rankings, whether we’re talking about what’s going on in this country. I always say that. We need to talk about stuff, and that’s one of the good things about this team and our coaching staff. We can have some pretty good lines of communication and hopefully get on the same page and go forward.”

(Did the team reach a consensus on the electoral college?) “I’m sure not. This is America. That’s the point. Everybody can have a different opinion. The thing is, what do they say, religion and politics, don’t discuss that with family and friend because sooner or later you keep talking about, you’re not going to have any family or friends. It’s just passionate things that it’s hard to change peoples’ minds on. That’s a topic of conversation, to be able to listen to someone with completely different views than you with an open mind and not get all emotional, that’s extremely hard to do.”

(Can the election be a good distraction by getting people fired up?) “I think if we can somehow put some context around these for our kids because it’s an interesting time in our country. I think for us to just kind of help give them some different things to think about and give them encouragement and hope and all those things is really important. Having a great country, just like having a great anything, marriage, family, job, is really hard work. It’s not like two steps forward, one step forward, three steps. It’s never like that. It’s a step forward, sometimes two steps backwards, three steps forward. That’s real life. For those guys to understand that I think is important.”

(On maturity and leadership when talking about those things) “I think they’ve stayed obviously pretty darn focused. I think one of the reasons why is we try to clear the air as much as possible. Whatever is out there that might affect in our guys. It’s different when you have so many guys. We talk about a few things, but there’s probably 30 other things affecting 30 different guys. But that’s life. You have to be able to deal with things and still stay focused on other things in your life as well.”

(Did moving into the top four even come up in conversation for you all?) “I didn’t hear that. We had a lot of things but I didn’t really hear that.”

(Is it surprising that you haven’t heard kids talk about that?) “I think again, because we’ve addressed that so many times, that’s not really a ho topic. It’s all about playing USC and playing our best football.”

(What are the challenges that USC provides?) “I think this is going on game 10 and this is the most complete team that we’ve seen from talent to coaching to scheme to offense, defense, special teams. It’s USC. Everybody respects USC. And you put the tape on and they should be respected. We’re excited for this game, to have it at home, to be in the greatest setting in college football. I know it will be on Saturday. This is why I think a lot of these kids came here and I think this is what College Football is all about.”

(On Sam Darnold) “Yeah, doesn’t look like a freshman. That’s probably the first thing. Everyone wants to talk about that. Doesn’t look like that at all. Looks like he’s been in that system for a long time. He’s just got really good skill. Looks like he’s got a command of what’s going on, he’s mobile, and a really strong arm to go with that as well. That’s not something that we usually talk about with our guys, but I do think his arm strength kind of jumps off at you on the tape.”

(On the CFP process) “I think they’re always trying to figure out, hey, what’s the next thing, how do we make this better? I think you feel that. I think everybody talks about expanding the four to whatever. I think that’s easier said than done. We kind of all get that. But from computers to people, all that stuff, I think everybody cares and they’re trying to do it right.”

(Do you think they should just wait and release only one poll at the end?) “I just don’t give it that much thought, that I’ve never even gone that far into thinking, to tell you the truth. I probably should. I guess there’s a few different polls floating around there. I guess the one that matters is the one that matters, right?”

(Did you even know you were No. 4?) “I heard it, but I don’t know how I heard it. It just was a non-topic.”

(On five Pac-12 teams appearing in this week’s CFP poll) “We have good teams in this league, and sometimes it takes a while for everything to kind of work itself out. Certain teams get better as the season goes on. Certain teams get more injuries and they can’t rally. That’s across the board. So it takes a while – that’s what we’re kind of talking about – it takes a while for these polls to really mean something. And you get late, they mean something, but they don’t mean anything until it’s all said and done. We all know that.”

(Does USC’s running back depth remind you of yours?) “No. I think they have more depth. I really do. There are four or five guys that I’ve seen in there that I’m like, ‘now who is this guy?’ They have tremendous depth there. We’ve been relatively healthy there, so that’s been good for us, but this is probably the most depth I’ve seen on another team.”

(On the difference in the run game now vs. before) “I think everybody has improved. I think we’ve had a lot of reps, the plays that we run, so they’re probably a little bit better. I will say this will be our biggest challenge in that run-game department that we’ve seen this season. So we’ll see.”

(Biggest challenge stopping their run game, or them stopping you?) “Both. Really both. I think it’s a big part of what’s going on. They’re very good at stopping the run. When things started to change for those guys, they’re all about stopping the run. They’ve done a great job, and then this is a hard defense to run on, as well.”

(What appealed to you about the USC job before you decided it wasn’t a good fit?) “There’s a handful of teams in college football that everybody always knows about because of what they’ve done in the past, and USC is certainly one of those places. I think that’s really cool about this week is how many times Washington and USC have won the conference, the combined Rose Bowls, what this game has really meant. Now, it hasn’t really meant a whole lot in the past, because USC has kind of done their thing, and I say this – a lot of guys in our team room, they hadn’t seen Washington win like I saw Washington win when I was growing up. So now, this is one of those games like, hey, this is a big game, this means something, this is kind of cool.”

(Have you ever thought what it might be like if you were coaching USC?) “Never. Not one time. Never.”

(On the Husky Stadium crowd for the Stanford game) “I will just say this: I’ve been in a lot of stadiums in my time and how that crowd was (for) Stanford, I can narrow that down to a handful of stadiums I’ve been in and felt like that, sounded like that for the entire game. I know when we’re playing against that, that can wear on you. And it’s hard to play against it.”

(On the challenges USC could face in an atmosphere like that?) “Just the noise and the snap count, which are all silent snap counts, but it’s still hard to deal with. When you hear noise, it’s energy — it’s positive energy. And what I want to do is really encourage our guys that, USC’s got a heck of a team. They’re going to make plays. And so sometimes that can quiet the fans down, but that’s when we need you the most. So it’ll be a fun Saturday.”

(Do you expect to see Adoree Jackson on offense at all?) “I do. They do some things to try get him the ball, and you know he’s going to be on offense when you’re kicking him the ball — that’s an offensive play. We’ve already spoke about how dangerous he is/”

(How would you describe your level of trust in Jake Browning right now?) “I mean, he’s as trustworthy as anybody we’ve ever had. He knows — he knows what’s going on. I mean, it’s hard — you’re not going to play a perfect game. There’s going to be decisions — I always say, it’s really for us to sit on the sidelines and go, ‘What?’ Or in the film room: ‘What?’ But it’s a completely different game when they’re coming at you in split seconds and there’s a lot of decision-making going on, which there is for him.”

(Is he still pretty hard on himself even with those rare mistakes?) “I think the super competitive guys always are. He’s probably one of those guys that doesn’t need us to say anything to him, but I have a problem that sometimes I can’t hold my tongue and he’s going to hear it anyways (smiles).”

(And how often do you do that?) “When it’s wrong, we say it. But he usually already knows. He’s not wrong that much, but again that’s what we’re all there for, to make sure we’re all on the same page and make sure we’re dialed (in) and seeing the same things.”

(On depth at Buck linebacker without Joe Mathis) “It’s been good for those guys who have been playing a lot more to get those reps. Everything’s always a work in progress. Those kids are going to continue to improve and get better. So the way it happened, we thought we’d get Joe back. So these guys have been getting meaningful reps, and now they’re even more meaningful.”

(What kind of supportive role can Mathis play for you going forward) “He’s been through a lot. He’s a guy that’s been here four years and guys look up to him, so he’ll be around and being an encouraging guy for us.”