Huskies coach Chris Petersen spoke for about 18 minutes today at his weekly Monday press conference. Here’s what he had to say.
(Opening statement) “Proud of our guys, they really did what we wanted them to do - which was work their tail off last week and improve. And I think they did that. I think our defense played pretty darn well. I think early on there were some third down conversions; credit to Sac State. They made some plays. But once we got through that I thought we played really really good defense. On offense we were able to do some things in terms of throwing the ball and stay on the field and getting into a little bit of a rhythm. Some of kids, the backs made some good plays. The line blocked a little bit better. Thought we made some progress.
“Much different animal this week. Much different scheme, much different everything. On to the new challenge.”
(How is Utah State fundamentally different from Sac State?) “Just the structure of their defense is different. They are all about pressure on defense. That’s just what they do, and they’re really good at it. They come at different angles and they try to disguise things and that’s what they do so they have a lot of different pressures. And they are good on defense, they really are. They do a great job with it.”
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(Did the offense look as good on film as you thought Saturday?) “It did look good. I always say this and this thing seems to hold true; it’s never as good as you think it is and it’s really never as bad as you think it is, for the most part. But there were certain things were you’re like, ‘Man, if this guy was to clean this up..’ But it was progress and on offense sometimes you need all 11 clicking and it’s really hard to get that early on, but we were still able to make some plays. This week it’s not going to look the same, just in terms of they are a pressure team and they blow a lot of things up. They come after the quarterback. It messes up the run game. Sometimes you’ll find some creases and sometimes you find four-yard losses. So we’re going to have to be patient and we’re going to have to be able to strike when we can.”
(Similar question on Jake Browning. His numbers were good) “I thought he did a good job, really did. I thought there was progress there. He sees the field pretty darn well. He’s not one of those guys that’s afraid to throw balls into tight windows. He anticipates so well that sometimes once the ball’s in air the window’s a little tighter than maybe you’d like, but he’s also going to get some balls in there because he does throw with such really good anticipation. Right before half there were some really good throws in there, and really good reads. We threw one ball down to Josh Perkins, and I don’t think we’ve thrown that ball on that route in two years. Both guys…Josh expected it, Jake threw it early. Looked like it was wide open because all those details. It was really impressive. It was one of the more impressive drives of the whole game.”
(Any update on Austin Joyner?) “Just so I can update you guys; if a guy is not out for the season I’m always going to say he’s week-to-week, day-to-day. But Austin is out for the season. He got his knee. Real unfortunate. He just kind of planted weird running down there on the kickoff. The good news is he got a game under his belt, prepared him like he was planning on playing, which we were. He can still use this year as a redshirt year and take it like most college freshman do and get him dialed into the academics and have time to rehab and we’ll have a full year to get him back.”
(ACL?) “It’s a knee injury. We’ll just go with that.”
(On he can see Myles Gaskin emerging as the feature back) “I don’t know, we’ll just see. I think Dwayne Washington is a really good back. I think they’re much different backs. That’s the thing I think we kind of like. I think Myles is different than the other guys we have. We’ve all seen Dwayne (Washington) do some pretty good things against some pretty good competition, so we know he can do some good things. Myles, we’re still figuring out. We’ve been pleased with him since he’s been here in fall camp and the first couple of games. He’s shown he can make some plays. We don’t ever say ‘hey, this is the guy.’ We’ve got to get a bigger body of work under our belt and we’ve got to let the guys keep earning things in practice. I think that’s the thing that we’re at right now is there are certain guys that maybe didn’t get as much time in the game as they thought they were going to get and maybe we even thought they were going to get in terms of how the game went. But the point is, it’s always on and you can always change your roll by practicing really, really well, and we’ll get you into the game. If you just practice kind of average or just don’t really show up, then you probably aren’t going to get as much on Saturday. I’m not just talking about the backs. I think about our defensive guys. There are some defensive guys and there are some other offensive guys too. It’s like ‘hey, okay. Put it on tape. We’ll give you more reps.’”
(On what characteristics stand out in true freshman that play instead of redshirt) “Well, I think there are a bunch of factors that are going to determine whether we play them. One is going to be physically, do we think they’re ready to go physically? Secondly, do we have a strong need at that position depth wise? I think the third thing is are they ready for the moment? Some guys can look pretty good right away, this happens every year, and we think ‘boy, this guy’s going to do something right away,’ then we start boggling them down with all this material that we throw at them and they don’t seem like the same guy. Some guys don’t really even flinch at all. So you’ll have a couple of guys where you’re thinking ‘gosh, we weren’t going to play these guys, but they’re not even phased by this.’ So it’s kind of a combination of all those things.”
(On outside screen passes) “We don’t really throw a ton of those. That might be one problem. A lot of times you’ll get a moving picture. We love shifts and motions; we love that stuff. That can also create a lot of problems on offense, because the picture now changed on them, the count changes. So that’s what happened on the one, we motioned a guy out there and they rotate their secondary and the count kind of got messed up in terms of who we were supposed to block out there. Those are some of the things that are really frustrating because they seem so simple from the sidelines. But when the guy’s shifting, the guy’s motioning, now the defense changes he’s got to be on his game pretty good. That’s kind of what happened.”
(On if Dwayne Washington has been frustrated with his performance so far) “And he’s still got a couple of touchdowns and he still did a pretty good job and it’s game two and if guys are frustrated right now I think we’ve got the wrong mentality. What we need to do is just keep working. This is a long season. I’ve said that a thousand times to you guys and ten thousand times to our guys. That’s what they need to do. Just keep working. Just keep getting better. At the end of this process we’ll look back and see how it was.”
(On Chuckie Keeton, Utah State’s quarterback, being one of the most unique quarterbacks he has seen) “He is. We’ve seen him for a long time as well. How do you describe him? He’s just a great competitor and just plays very hard. He always seemed at the end of the games just kind of dragging himself around because he’ll go and he’s not afraid to run the ball and take a shot and get hit and do whatever he needs to do to help his team win. He’s a unique guy. He’s just a football player is what he is at that quarterback position.”
(Can Myles Gaskin be a guy who can carry 20-25 times per game?) “I think all those things are still to be determined. I don’t think it’s anyone’s style so much if a guy is more of a patient, shiftier, as opposed to a downhill – I think it just kind of depends, can a guy hold up? Does he have that innate sixth sense where he can kind of slip guys at the last minute and not take big shot after big shot. I think all those things matter. I think early on, his style kind of indicates that he’s pretty shifty and can kind of slide things at the last minute, but again, these are some pretty fast, big, strong guys that we’re getting ready to go up against for a long period of time. We need more than just two backs. I just keep saying that. Those two guys are kind of rolling right now, and those other guys are going to have to be ready, and they’ll get their opportunity, as well.
(On possibility of letdown for Utah State coming off Utah game) “I don’t think there’s going to be a letdown coming here. I just don’t. I think there are certain games on everybody’s schedule that’s like, ‘OK.’ I think that’s one of the issues with our schedule. You can make a case every single week for us, and I think it’s really hard for guys to play at their emotional peak week after week after week. I think that’s just extremely hard to do. Now, do I think looking at Utah State’s schedule, are they going to be ready to play us, and is this a big (game)? Absolutely. I know that. So there will be no letdown from Utah State coming over here. I know Matt Wells very well. I know how he coaches, and I know how hard those guys will play.”
(Is there a Utah State brand of football?) “I think they’re very similar to Boise. I think you can feel that rivalry really heating up, and I think they get good players, and I think they play really, really hard. On offense, the style is similar. Defense is a little bit different, but the similarity is, those guys know what they’re doing. They play really fast and really hard. Those are good tacklers. That’s how Boise was, too. So there’s some similarities there.”
(Utah State defense similar to what you saw from them the past few years?) “It is similar. They’ve run the same style for the last handful of years. But our players haven’t seen this for the last handful of years. We’ve got a week to get these guys ready. That’s I’m sure what they say. .. This is what they do, and they have a lot of variety to it. And they’re game-planners. So what you just saw on the last tape or two doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what you’re getting. In fact, it’s probably not what you’re getting. So that makes it challenging.”
(On playing so many true freshmen) “So it’s by far the most we’ve ever played. Last year is by far the most we’ve ever played. And so I think in an ideal world, we redshirt them all. And the world has changed, as we know. We don’t live in an ideal world, so we’re going to play more true freshmen. But I also think, like I’ve said before, freshmen are better, they’re really well coached. Some of these guys don’t even flinch at coming in here and all the stuff that we’re throwing – they’ve got to learn a new language, because we call things differently, but they’ll be like, ‘we had this concept, we had this concept, I know this.’ And just how fast they can relearn it. So I think it’s a combination of all those type of things. And I also think it’s great for recruiting. All you’ve got to do is say, ‘you’re going to get a great chance, if you’re good enough, you’re going, if that’s what you want to do.’”
(Any talk from UW defense about keeping this six-quarter scoreless streak alive?) No. I don’t think we’re there yet. Like I said, I think those guys are playing hard. I think they’re playing pretty good. But like I said, (Utah State) is a different animal than we played last week. These guys are good, led by their quarterback. They make plays. They have some really good wideouts, hard-nosed running backs. So they’re going to make plays and move the ball. They’ve just got too many weapons there not to. So what we need to do is try slow ‘em down and contain ‘em. Totally expecting a tight, hard-fought game.”
(On total snaps for Trey Adams on Saturday) “I don’t really know. But he got a decent amount.”
(Do you anticipate ramping up his workload?) “Yeah. It’s just so much about how fast we can bring him along mentally, so he’s not overthinking things. This season … (for) some of these true freshmen and even some of these redshirt freshmen, there’s going to be a lot of thinking going on. (With) more reps they’re going to eliminate some of that, but you can see that he’s doing well.”
(How did Adams grade out?) “We’re pretty nitpicky. So when a guy sees his grade, he can be a little bit down in the dumps, but I thought he played pretty well. I look at the big picture there and see progress. … Coach Strausser will pick things apart, like Coach Paopao and Coach Lake; they’re going to pick everything apart, so sometimes grades can be deceiving a little bit.”
(On Joshua Perkins’ development as a blocker) “All those tight ends love to catch the ball, but they’re not going to be on the field a whole bunch if they can’t block for us. So I think he’s doing a good job there. He’s a really good pass receiver, as you can see. I think he’s got a good feel for the game and I think he and Jake are kind of on the same page. I think Jake can feel him pretty good. I think they really see things similar, which really helps him there. But like you said, he’s got to be able to block; I think his strength is the pass game, but I think he’s improving and doing a decent job — a good job run blocking.”
(On the depth chart, there’s an “OR” listed as the starter with the first four tight ends. What should fans read into that?) “Well, what they should read on is come to the game and watch those ‘Ors’ all get on the field and all play and see what happens. So we’ll put guys in depending on strengths and those types of things. That’s the one thing I do like is, not all the stuff we’re doing is going fast. We’re going to put guys in and play to their strengths. Like I said way back in August, one of the things we like is playing a lot of guys. One of the things I’m loving to see is David Ajamu on the field a lot more than he was last year. That guy works hard, that guys does a good job (and) he’s earning more reps, and you see him on the field a lot more. And he’s doing some good things. So that’s awesome. That’s how it should be. So they are are ‘Ors,’ and those guys will rotate in there depending on what we’re doing.”