Huskies Insider Blog

Quoting Chris Petersen on Boise State, Jake Browning, Dante Pettis and more

Huskies coach Chris Petersen met with media a little while ago for his weekly Monday press conference. Here’s the transcript of what he said, including thoughts on UW’s struggling running game, Jake Browning, Dante Pettis and true freshmen who stood out on Friday night.

(Opening) “Obviously disappointed in the outcome of the game. Was disappointed the first half, but was happy about some of the adjustments we made, certainly on defense. Was pleased with how hard the kids played. I thought Jake did some good things once he kind of settled down. I think Jake is a pretty decisive decision-maker. There might have been a couple things pre-snap coverage wise he thought he was going to get and they did a decent job of disguising a couple things, so I know he’d like to have a couple do-overs on those type of reads. But I thought for the most part he showed good poise. He threw some accurate passes in there and will continue to get comfortable.

“I thought our defense in the second half played really, really good. Maybe a combination of a couple of adjustments that Coach K and company made, but I also think they settled down and started striking and getting off blocks. And then obviously special teams kept us in the game. I think those kids played hard, we spent a lot of time on it. Hopefully that will continue to spark us, and keep working hard and progressing there.

“I think our whole mission around here - win or lose - is going to be do we improve? How do we improve from right now to this next game? Whoever we play, everyone is going to want to make it about the opponent; I think everybody does. To me that’s never what it’s going to be about. It’s just about us. Certainly with the young guys we have, how are we getting better?”

(See an opportunity for a quick fix in the run game, or is it more concerning?) “It was certainly very concerning, probably the number-one thing on offense. And it was a little thing here and a little thing there that made it kind of look bad. First play we get hit six yards deep in the backfield; Dwayne bounces out of it to get back to the line of scrimmage, but it’s their guy making a quicker play than our linemen adjusting to it. It’s nothing we didn’t anticipate and see, it just happened a lot faster. So there’s a lot of those little things. We’re going to have to get our run game better for us to progress, without question.”

(Did you have a conscious idea of stretching the defense vertically?) “Nope. We did not. And we need to try to do that. A little bit was trying to get something going, trying to get a little rhythm and get first downs to stay on the field. The first half was very, very poor. I think we had 20-something plays. It was hard to get anything going. But another thing we don’t like. We’ve got to be able to take some chances.”

(Was the lack of a downfield game part of having a frosh QB, the game plan?) “A little bit of both. And we need to see more of that without question. I think we’ve got to take some chances and be able to do that. Sometimes it’s coverage-predicated. Boise is a shot team as well and they got one off on us that they should have hit, and that has to do with coverage - taking them out of their shots as well. But we’ve got to design things where we’ve got chances to take some shots. And we will.”

(How do you balance keeping some of the training wheels on with letting him go?) “That’s the art of coaching. We’ve got to be able to help him out. We’ve got to set him up for some success with easy throws and run the ball, and then take some chances down field. That’s got to get better.”

(What about the spike at the end? Okay with the time on the clock?) “That’s not a big deal at all. That had nothing to do with nothing.”

(How much did the lack of offensive line dominance spill over into a lack of being able to move the ball offensively?) “I think when you make a team one dimensional, it really handcuffs you. Whether our defense can take half of their offense away or we get half of ours taken away, I think it hurts things. It takes away the rhythm of the game. They start holding serve, they start really teeing off. Again, our defense did a good job of that in the second half. You could feel it there, the momentum of a defensive struggle. But we’ve got a young quarterback and some young o-linemen that will continue to progress. We’ve got what we’ve got right now, but as long as we continue to progress, build a little confidence, then we’re headed in the right direction.”

(Who are some of the guys you have now that can help you create explosive plays on offense?) “I think you see ‘em out there. You see Dante (Pettis), Jaydon Mickens, some of those freshmen are going to continue to develop. We’ll see one or two of those guys turn into an explosive player. It’s hard to really say with any of those young guys until they do something out there. But I think we do have some talent out there. John Ross was an easy one to rely on last year. He could do some things even when it wasn’t really there. I think we do have some guys that can do some things down the field if we give them a chance and set up some things correctly.”

(With the early interception, did that affect Jake the rest of the game?) “No. I don’t think so. He’s a pretty decisive guy, and I didn’t think that rattled him. The decision, he saw what was coming. But he really should have been working a different direction with that blitz coming. He kind of pre-determined a little bit, trying to get that ball outside, and it really should have gone down the seam or to the other side. I don’t think he’ll make the same mistakes over and over. As long as we’re making different mistakes, we’re probably doing okay. We just don’t want to make the same ones over and over.”

(When looking at the tape, where was the failure to execute? Was it on Jake learning on the job, was it on Boise taking things away?) “I think it’s a combination of all that, I really do. He did some really nice things. I think there were some little things that if he delivered the ball in a different spot, some easy things that can help the situation…part of it was Boise playing some really good, tight coverage, disguising a few things. I think all those things kind of added up. I don’t think it was any one thing. But we’ve got to figure out, as always - no matter who the quarterback is - we’ve got to give that guy a chance to be successful. That’s always the mission over there.”

(Follow-up on spike: After game, you said there was some miscommunication on timing …) “All I’m saying is, in that situation there’s probably no reason to spike it right then and there. We (should have) run the clock down a little bit more, kick a field goal at the end, rather kick a field goal, make it, give them a chance to do something. That’s what it was. It was fourth down. We weren’t going to run another play, try to get more yards.”

(But the ball was spiked on third down, correct?) “Correct, which went to fourth down. And we didn’t have a timeout.

(Maybe run a play to the sideline, get a few more yards?) “Eh. … What happened was, we got sacked. What happened was, we got a (holding) penalty when we were in there. Those two things killed us.”

(Browning seemed pretty pissed off after the game … ) “His demeanor’s kind of always the same to me, and I think that’s one thing we like. If he does something pretty good, it seems the same. He’s pretty analytical, pretty clinical. I think he’s really competitive. I think our guys should be pissed off. I really do. That’s what you want. You don’t want guys feeling sorry for themselves and moping around. That’s what most people do. I think the true competitors are really irritated about it and trying to figure out how to fix it. Most people think they’re competitors and they’re not. They’re mopers. That (intensity) is in his nature and that’s what the rest of our guys need to continue to develop.”

(Did you fight the urge to want to redshirt Browning during the QB competition?) “I think the big thing was just trying to figure what we felt was the right thing. I think we’ve got a couple other guys (Carta-Samuels and Lindquist) there that can play, and like we’ve said before it wasn’t an easy, clear-cut decision because those other guys can do some things. I want those other guys really competing and pressing, making each other better. And we’ll need those guys as the season goes on. You know that. So I think it was more of, trying to figure out what was the right thing to do for our team. I don’t worry about age. I never worry about that. When we hired coordinators who were 29 years old (Harsin and Wilcox) and are playing freshmen — we just go with the guys we think are going to give us the best chance to win. And age is irrelevant. I think maturity; I think experience does have something to do with it, but maturity, smarts, competitiveness — all those things. That’s what it’s all about.”

(Did Browning do anything to surprise you Friday night?) “I thought he moved around and got out of some things better than he’s shown. Which we’ve seen a couple flashes at practice, and so he’s going to need to do that — if we get a 5-yard scramble or a 13-yard scramble. Those are critically, critically important plays to us. So he’s kind of put it on tape against a pretty fast, aggressive defense, that he can do that, and he’s going to continue to do that.”

(As an offense, did you help Browning as much as you would’ve liked?) “I think there’s always some calls you’d like to have back. …”

(Not you necessarily, more of the line play, running backs, receivers … ) “No. Because it starts with the run game. And when you can’t run the ball, you’re putting a lot of pressure on your pass game. It always starts right there and if you can’t do that, then we’re not helping him like we need to. Then you’re always trying to analyze, as a coach, what you can do throw-wise to make his life a little bit easier — whether we throw it down the field a little bit more to loosen them up or we’re giving him easier throws, we’re always trying to figure that out.”

(For a young offense, it didn’t appear there were a lot of typical mistakes going on — not a lot of penalties, turnovers) “Well, I think there weren’t as many glaring things. The ball went on the turf one time and we got it back. If we lose that, that’s a glaring thing. We were offsides on fourth down, which is critical. It’s loud and it’s hard and I get all that, but they were minimal, but they were also critical. Those are critical situations. I thought the 2-minute drill was critical — we get a holding penalty and we get a sack. That’s back-breaking.”

(Was there an opportunity to avoid that sack?) “No. That was a three-man rush and we got sacked.”

(On if he was satisfied by the number of targets the tight ends got) “Well, we weren’t satisfied with how long we stayed on the field or how we threw the ball at all. I don’t even think we’re at the point where we’re targeting certain guys. I think there are certain guys that are explosive that we need to get the ball to, but we just need to be able throw it better, stay on the field more, get into a rhythm, and convert some third downs where it’s not third and long. I think that’s a question that’s a little bit down the road. We have to get back to staying in manageable situations and not running twenty-some plays in the first half.”

(On if he feels Boise focused stopping certain players on Washington’s offense) “No. I thought they were just playing their scheme and playing it really aggressive and really fast.”’

(On Jake Browning’s interception) “They brought a blitz, rolled their coverage down. Jake was going to go right outside, he knew the corner was off. Darian (Thompson) is smart; he is a smart football player and has really good ball skills. That’s why he’s leading the country coming back in interceptions. He reroutes the receiver and then gets right in the throwing lane, so we either need to let the receiver get down the seam or work the other side. It was a good play by Darian and Boise. We get Jake a little more dialed into that and I don’t think that pick’s going to happen.”

(On Azeem Victor) “Azeem (Victor), he’s played well in spring ball, he’s had a really good fall camp, and we really felt strongly like he was going to be a very good player right out of the gate. He’s done too many good things. His game has just really jumped. You talk about one of those young guys that you go ‘wow, okay, this guy, he’s going to do something, but we don’t need to talk a whole lot about it until he at least puts something on tape,’ and so he did. What you saw is what we’ve been seeing in practice and what we felt in spring a little bit. He’s really starting to understand. He knows a lot more than he did, but he’s still got a ways to go. When he really gets this thing down he’s going to do some very good things. He’s a big guy that can run so we put him on special teams. On that punt return, not only he, but there were probably about 4 other guys who made some really key blocks and really some key maybe no blocks. You’ll see guys trying to take a block that they really don’t need to make and it’s a personal foul. So you saw a lot of really good decisions on that play.”

(On if difficulty getting off blocks lead to struggles stopping the run early) “I think that has something to do with it. I think the speed of the game, the intensity of the game. We had some guys there early on but we really weren’t wrapping good. I thought there backs did a really good job of running hard and kind of running through and falling forward for now, all of a sudden, instead of a two-yard gain it’s a four to five-yard gain. So I think that was some of it. I think our guys kind of notched up the intensity in the second half. They really did a nice job of striking and getting off blocks, running to the ball.”

(On if he thought the offensive line being physically overmatched led to struggles running the ball) “I think some guys got beat on occasion, but I didn’t really see we were tremendously overmatched physically. I think all those guys played hard on Boise’s side, and you’re not going to block them for long, so if the technique is not real right it’s going to be tough. I thought their safeties did a nice job of being really aggressive, so when we did get a crease they were right there, and did a pretty good job tackling. We didn’t run through much in terms of when we did get something to the second level we broke very few tackles. Dwayne (Washington), on the last drive we had, he caught the little pass and he ran through one or two tackles and it was really nice gain at a critical time. Other than that we didn’t see a whole lot of that.”

(On Myles Gaskin) “He’s kind of a different style back than what we have. He’s very shifty. I think he’s got pretty good vision. He can kind of stop and start real quickly. I think he can go lateral and then get vertical fast. I think he kind of gives us something a little different than maybe those other backs that we have.”

(On rotating players in on the defensive line) “Well, we’ve got to keep developing depth. That’s an extremely hard position to play in terms of striking every play and then getting off a block and running to the ball. So to me it’s never been the same as an offensive lineman and defensive lineman expending the same amount of energy just in terms of how we expect people to run to the ball. So we’ve got to rotate some guys in there, we’ve got to develop depth, so I think you’ll continue to see that.”

(On if he considered giving K.J. Carta-Samuels a drive) “Not necessarily. We may have some things for he of Jeff and try to expland some things down the road. But no, we weren’t thinking ‘hey, Jake is really struggling and needs a break,’ or anything like that. Like I said, what I kind of thought was we just need to stay on field longer to let him get into a rhythm.”

(On the timing and usage of K.J. Carta-Samuels when he did play) “I thought that was fine. It’s all down and distance and field position predicated, so you kind of make your decisions there. You didn’t see much out of him but there’s probably a little more to it in terms of what we’re trying to do there that you may see down the road.”

(On if he expects Jeff Lindquist to be fully available) “We do. He’s a lot better than he was last week. We’ll just see.”

(On if Deontae Cooper will be available) “He could be. Again, he’s going to be week-to-week. It’s nothing serious at all. Sometimes these guys just take a minute. I was surprised he was as set back as he was for this game. I thought he would be more ready to go. So we’ll just see.”

(It’s not his knee?) “No, nothing to do with his knee.”

(On shuffling players on the offensive line) “That’s a good question. We’re still trying to develop some guys. Kaleb McGary got twenty-something snaps and I think he’s going to continue to rapidly progress. Matt James is a redshirt freshman so he is going to progress. We’re still thinking about Trey (Adams) a little bit. I think some of this next month we’re going to try to figure a few things out, our health and all those things.”

(On what changed defensively from the first half to the second half) “They had a couple things with the d-line depending on down and distance packages and I think that helped us. But I think the main thing is the kids kind of settled down and kept playing hard. I think if you keep playing hard, and again that’s one of those easy things to talk about that everybody does, but it’s hard to do when things aren’t going exactly your way. But I think they kept their intensity up, they kept playing hard, they settled down, they got into a rhythm of tackling and getting off blocks and striking. It seems simple but that stuff is not easy to do.”

(On his return to Boise) “It was a good football game. I knew we were playing a good team. I was really anxious to see how our guys would respond. I was pleased with how we played on special teams. I was surprised early on at our defense, how they were moving the ball. Once they settled down I was really pleased. I didn’t think they would shut them down run wise like they did, so somewhat of a balance. On offense, again, I thought we would do more. I really did. It really is about the game. For me walking in there, like I said, you walk in there, I mean the people are wonderful over there. I’ve known that for a long time. So that was great. They treated us great. They treated our team great. They treated me great. It was great.”

(On Dante Pettis in return game) “I think Dante is a really – he’s a unique guy. He’s a guy that I’ve had extremely high expectations for really since he’s been here. One, because we made hi the punt returner. Two, because he played as a true freshman, and he’s very smart and he’s really talented athletically. And I also think he’s a guy that I’m harder on than most because of our expectations and what I think he can do – when balls hit the ground or he stepped out of bounds on one of those (completions). He’s so sharp and all those type of things, he’s almost one of those guys you expect to play flawless, and he’s still so young. But he’s a great kid, really good player, and he’s going to continually get better.”

(Will you continue rotating defensive personnel or settle on a few guys?) “I hope we don’t settle. I hope we’re good enough to say, ‘this guy needs to get on the field and play more.’ I think that helps our team. I think it helps the guy he’s rotating with, one, stay fresh, and I think it helps them all stay competitive. And so I hope it’s like we have no problem putting another guy in there, and it’s not like we’re just spelling guys. And that’s a big hope, but there are some other guys that we’d like to get in there more, some of these true freshmen that played on some special teams, and I hope to see them in there playing offense and defense. I really, really do. And I think that will be a good thing for us, and I think it will happen.”

(Any true freshmen stand out?) “I think Ben Burr-Kirven did an awesome job. We talk about him on defense, I don’t think he got in, but that guy’s going to be a really good player. You can just see his football sense when he plays on special teams. Tevis Bartlett, throwing him out there as a true freshman in that environment, let alone our quarterback. We just expect, ‘you need to be here,’ and all that takes a little bit of time. Austin Joyner, I think Chico (McClatcher), trying to do some things with him. I think all those guys held up well in their first game, and I think all our suspicions, why we wanted to play them, we still think they’re going to do some really good things down the road.”

(Anything surprise you?) “Well, like I said, I was surprised at our defense early on, how (Boise State) was running the ball on us. I was surprised at our offense, how we were doing nothing. And I was pleased overall probably in our special-teams performance, that really kind of kept us in it. So I think those three things kind of jumped out to me.”

(Last field goal just missed?) “I guess so. I didn’t even really go back to see if it was a little short or wide or whatever. It was kind of a long kick. There was a little bit of a breeze – it’s amazing how much the kicking game is affected when there’s just a little, little breeze. If you can feel it a little bit standing on the field and the ball gets up there, it’ll really change it dramatically for returners, kickers. It really affects it. And so there was a little bit of a breeze and I think if there wouldn’t have been one, I think he would have got it.”

(On not wanting Browning to look over his shoulder and how long the leash will be with him) “We’re going to always do what’s right for that guy. I think you go back to last year, there were certain times we struggled there, as well. And you really want to be fair and you want to do it right, so you’re not – we all know what that can cause. Sometimes a guy needs to come out and catch his breath even though they don’t want to do that. Whether it’s for a game, or a series or two. We’ve all been there and had those situations. So our guy’s not going to look over his shoulder. We’re going to protect him and take care of him and do what’s right. If that means leaving him in there and letting him go through some things or it means taking him out so he can kind of get a new perspective, we’ll do that. But our guy’s not going to look over his shoulder, whoever it is.”

(He’ll start this week?) “Well, you’ll have to show up to the game and find out (laughs). I would think he probably is.”

(On why Dante Pettis chose UW) “I think in the recruiting thing, I think the kids get connected to coaches. I think once the kids are at the school, they get connected to the schools, and they should be. But the reality of things, the school does matter, there’s no question, and that’s one of the reasons that I think we’re all here as coaches – what this university has to offer for these kids. But I think as the recruiting process goes on and you do it for so long, the coaches really get tied into these guys, and they get tied into you. You’re looking for a certain style. Everybody has a profile of the guy that they want, and Dante ... the hard thing that I had with Dante is projecting too many things from his cousin onto him. Like, Austin was such a good player for us. He was one of my favorite guys. He was so competitive. He was athletic. We were watching Dante play and I kept thinking, ‘am I just thinking this is Austin because I know they’re cousins and all that?’ And I didn’t want to do that and make him better than he was. And so I was fighting that. (But) it wasn’t that. He was that athletic and that good, and he’s his own different player in a unique way.”

(Any thought to playing Budda Baker against Boise State?) “No. I mean, (when) Budda plays, Budda’s going to have a package. It’s not like a play (or two) here. You’re trying to spark something, but we needed to get into a rhythm. So, no.”

(On what led him to choose Browning as the starter) “I don’t think there was any one thing, like I said. I think the decision was very close in terms of trying to figure this out, and I think at the end of fall camp, towards the last handful of days, he was performing the best. It was close all along, so he was kind of performing the best, and I think that’s why we went that direction. But I think since he’s been here, like we’ve been saying, he’s very football smart. He’s seen a lot of things from the offense he played in, too. He studies and he’s into this thing as much as anyone I’ve ever been around, so he learns things pretty rapidly. So it wasn’t like this guy that was kind of behind – he was right in the mix from the very start.”