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Chris Petersen on loss to USC: ‘We definitely felt like we were out of our rhythm a bit’

Huskies coach Chris Petersen reflects on loss to USC

Washington coach Chris Petersen talks with the media Monday, Nov. 11, 2016, in Seattle.
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Washington coach Chris Petersen talks with the media Monday, Nov. 11, 2016, in Seattle.

Huskies coach Chris Petersen met with reporters for about 20 minutes this morning to reflect on UW’s 26-13 loss to USC, and look ahead some to UW’s Saturday game against Arizona State. Petersen also updated the injury status of star linebacker Azeem Victor. Here is all that he said:

(Opening) “How ‘bout them Seahawks? I’m taking all questions about them. And I saw two plays, the last two. And they just always figure out a way.”

(Would you have gone for two up seven?) “I didn’t get that far. All I know is the last two good plays and they always figure out a way.”

(Did you think that was PI in the end zone on Kam Chancellor?) “From what I saw I thought it was a pretty good no-call. It was kind of both ways. There was nothing blatant. That’s my two cents on officiating.

“So anyways, the game…played a good football team. We really did. When you play a team that’s that good you’re going to need to have your fastball going. And on all phases, and we obviously didn’t. We had some chances on offense where we could not strike. A little bit of protection stuff. We had a chance, a handful of plays could have been explosives and we couldn’t get it done.

“I thought when Taylor Rapp got his second interception there in the red zone, I think it was 17-13 and we got nothing done there except a field goal blocked. That was tough to overcome.

“I thought our defense in the second half played really, really well. I thought they played well in the first half except for the drive right before the half when they went into their two-minute offense and hit some explosives and moved the ball down there. That was the only series where our defense didn’t play at a high level.

“But again, USC is a really good team. They were better than us.”

(What did you see on the blocked kick?) “They timed the ball being snapped and they had a way to crease us and hold a guy in a legal way, did a good job on it.”

(On their offensive snaps, could more false starts have been called?) “I don’t know about that. I just know that when you’re going on a completely silent snap count and sometimes the guys on the edges can’t see as well because you’ve got to keep your eye on the ball and your guy, sometimes it’s not all everybody getting off on the same page. We always have a handful of things every game that we kind of think…part of the game.”

(Can the loss be a positive for the team going forward?) “I don’t think that’s ever going to be a positive. I like where your mind’s at…we do just need to respond. We need to learn from it and we need to respond. It could be. Sometimes everything goes really well for you in the season and it’s like, it doesn’t always go like that. I’ve been saying it all along: I just really believe on any given night in this league, who we play, who we are, we could get knocked off. It’s easy to say those things because you’re at home and have a fabulous crowd and all that, you’re not going to win unless you have that and you play at a high level. I hope our guys have a new edge to them a little bit but I do think they’ve done a good job all season long about preparing and all that stuff. They played hard. Both sides played really, really hard. It wasn’t about that at all. There’s certain components that have to come with us and at the end of the day you’ve got to execute at a high level - complete balls, pass protect, those type of things. It just quite wasn’t good enough.”

(On Azeem Victor) “He got surgery yesterday, but it’s OK. It’s not going to be a real long-term thing. It’s a bone, and those things will heal quickly. I don’t know exactly what the timeline is, but it’s probably as good as it could be, in terms of all those things.”

(Could he return for a bowl game?) “I don’t know anything about that. I know he had surgery, so … I don’t know.”

(It was his leg?) “Leg, yeah. So really, when it was all said and done, it was actually probably more positive than we were first thinking. Sometimes going into surgery and all that, it’s all this other kind of stuff, but it was pretty straightforward from what I understand.”

(How did DJ Beavers do in Victor’s place?) “I think he filled in pretty well. He made some tackles, played aggressive, played tough. Was not like – it’s hard when you lose a player like Azeem, for sure, but it was not like this, ‘oh, now we have no chance’ type thing. He was right there playing physical. He’s got a lot of good reps throughout the season, and now he’s going to get a lot more.”

(Could Ben Burr-Kirven slide into MLB as well?) “I think Coach Gregory kind of cross-trains all those guys, and it’s been kind of a nice, easy rotation and rhythm for most of the season, so now kind of down a guy, so that might change a little bit, get all those guys a little bit more playing time. I think we’re still kind of putting that plan together.”

(On abandoning the run game and having to throw a lot) “I think after we got stopped in the red zone, and now we’re trying to make it back up and get some things going and throw the ball. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to stay in your comfort zone of having balance and all those type of things, and certainly later in the fourth quarter, when we were down two scores, you’re throwing the ball more than you’d like to throw it. It doesn’t feel like your normal rhythm and those, and they pin their ears back a little bit more, makes protection hard. Jake’s kind of running around, and that’s not what you like to do. We didn’t capitalize enough early on to get ourselves into that situation. So I think we definitely felt like we were out of our rhythm a bit.”

(On these games being more physical now) “That’s a good question. It was certainly a physical game. Those are two big offensive lines and two physical defenses, for sure. They were playing really, really hard. I just know in this last month of football, kids, even last year, kids were playing really, really hard, which is awesome, because like I said, a lot of reps under our belt, a lot of practice time. And just proud of how hard they’re playing.”

(What sense did you get from the team at practice yesterday?) “I didn’t really get a sense. It’s exactly like I thought. It is what it is, and our thing is to learn from this and then respond, and I mean that 100 percent. What did we learn from this game? What did each guy learn? What do we take from that? And then let’s go respond and be better for it. That’s all we can do.”

(Did you think USC’s offensive and defensive lines would be so much quicker and better?) “I knew they were going to be physical. I wasn’t … I didn’t know how the whole thing would play out, but I knew this is a good football team. This is USC. And they’re huge, and that’s what they talk about at SC. And even being on the lower end of the scoring, I kind of heard some people say this was going to be a high-scoring (game) – I didn’t think that. I thought it would be on the lower end of scoring type thing, and a lot of times that starts with the lines.”

(Was there a moment that players started losing focus during the week?) “No. I didn’t feel that. It’s hard to really know, but I didn’t feel that form our team or anything like that. There’s so much talk for so long that it can happen, but I didn’t feel like that. I think, like I’ve been saying, USC is a really good team that played really well up here in a hard environment and did a really good job.”

(Are you still building to the point where you can lose a player like Joe Mathis or Azeem Victor and not skip a beat?) “I don’t know if anyone does that. Maybe Alabama. I don’t know. I think every coach in America for the most part, you get a really good player and you lose him; you might have a good young player, but they’re just not there. I don’t know if you ever get there.”

(On the secondary’s performance) “I thought they played pretty good. Again because you’re talking about some really skilled guys out there that they’re going against. I thought our defense, like I said, for the most part played pretty well. Just that one drive they got the two minute rhythm going and got us a little bit. I thought for the most part they slowed them down, which I think it’s a pretty high powerful, high potent offense. I thought the guys did a pretty good job.”

(Is this the part of the season where you get to see how young players have matured?) “Those guys have been getting some playing time all throughout the year so you don’t really think of those guys so much anymore as really young guys. Certainly a guy like D.J. Beavers; he’s been playing a lot and now he’s going to get more playing time. It’s kind of a transition, however that happens. I think you kind of look around the country. I know there’s a handful of games where this guy’s out, that guy’s out that’s been such a stalwart for different teams. That’s just kind of how it goes. You just have to be prepared. You hope it’s later than sooner for sure and not at all, but a lot of times that’s not how it goes.”

(Did anything jump out to you about Sam Darnold on film?) “There’s nothing that - we had tremendous respect for him going in and he played good.”

(Was Jake Browning more preoccupied with the pass rush and less aware of other things as a result?) “I don’t think he’s more preoccupied. They rush just a little bit better than maybe some other people did. But Jake (Browning) is pretty good about buying time and getting out of the pocket and those type of things. I think he was doing his deal. I don’t think our protection was as good as it has been overall. Towards the end you kind of get into that trying to make some stuff happen and that kind of never really goes great.”

(How does ASU’s quarterback situation change their offense?) “It’s hard to know. Still kind of looking at that and figuring that out. I think they recruit certain types of quarterbacks to that system. They played three different guys and anytime you’re playing a bunch of quarterback I don’t think anybody likes that. I think they have really good quality there. I do. They all seem like they know what the heck they’re doing back there, where to go with the ball. That offense is a pretty wide open offense and creative and all those type of things. They have some explosive, explosive players. I mean it’s kind of the same thing every week. It’s just a new set of problems, how you’re going to deal with them.”

(Does their offense compare to another you’ve played?) “They’ve kind of always had their unique stamp on it. It’s kind of a power spread type team. More of run the ball with the run-pass option type things. Really again it’s very Southern Mississippi-ish. This is where the coordinator came from. There’s a lot of similarities there.”

(There’s no secrets with ASU’s defense — you know they’re going to bring pressure) “Well, there’s secrets — you just don’t know what’s coming (and) when and all those types of things. That’s what’s hard. They blow things up. They’re really good against the run because they’ve got some really good players up front and their moving and all those types of things, so it’s really hard to know. And then you’ve got to be able to pick things up. And when you do those types of things, it’s like any blitzing: When (they) blitz and you can pick it up, there’s a lot of space and DBs have to cover. So it’s always that cat-and-mouse game?”

(On preparing for ASU’s sign stealing) “We always have a plan for everything.”

(How do you feel about that sort of stuff — ethical?) “Yeah, you can pick off signals. That’s the bottom line. You can look over there and do all that stuff, so you’ve got to be prepared to deal with it.”

(On a few Browning passes being underthrown) “Well, I think it’s John Ross a little who’s waiting on it and that guy has to wait on a lot of deep balls. He’s pretty fast. The problem is they’re usually deep drops (trying) to give John more time to get out there and you’re trying to throw a little air to give him a chance. Those deep balls are hard to throw, hard to throw on time. There’s nothing prettier than a deep ball that hits a guy in stride, and we’ve done that a couple times. But that is really hard to do. And, yeah, if we could’ve gotten the ball out there (vs. USC) — that’s one of those explosives we were talking about, had we been able to connect and really been on it could be game-changing. Other than that, it’s a game-changer for them because they stopped it. It was going to be a big play, and it was a big play one way or another for them to stop that.”

(How would you characterize the players’ emotions in the locker room? Are they upset? Determined?) “I don’t know. We’ll see when we go to work tomorrow. … The nice thing is is, it’s just like everything we talk about. I mean, if you’re just so disappointed because of this loss with all this football left to be played then you’re in the wrong locker room and you haven’t been hearing a word that we’ve been talking about. There’s a lot of football left and awesome things to play for and all that stuff. SO I don’t know what we’re talking about other than let’s just learn and regroup and respond and let’s go play. It’s a chance to play at home, senior night, all those types of things. Do we want those guys really excited about last week’s game? No, obviously. Do we want them with a little bit of an irritated attitude — yeah. So it’s that type of thing. These guys will be fine in terms of coming out and going to work, but it’s time to work through it.”

(Hearing anything from guys on ‘playing for the seniors’ and all that?) “We haven’t really gotten into that. All of the guys pay attention to that as we start to talk about that. (Sunday) is always about putting the last game to rest, watching, analyzing it, detailing it; we don’t really talk about the next opponent until we see these guys (on Tuesday).”

(Browning said he was going to prepare harder than ever for ASU. Do you ever get concerned about him doing too much?) “No. I just kind of take that with a grain of salt anyway. He always prepares really, really hard. We just need to have him do what he’s been doing and he’ll be fine.”

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