University of Washington

Petersen addresses tackling, clock management as Huskies move forward from Cal loss

Head coach Chris Petersen on Huskies’ loss to Cal

Washington head coach Chris Petersen reflects on the Huskies' 20-19 loss to Cal.
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Washington head coach Chris Petersen reflects on the Huskies' 20-19 loss to Cal.

Shortly after 1:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, Washington head coach Chris Petersen stood and addressed the media.

Minutes before, then-No. 14 UW had fallen to Cal, 20-19. It had been a wild game, mostly due to the 2 hour and 39 minute lightning delay that nearly emptied Husky Stadium. But while Petersen answered his fair share of questions about the weather, he mostly faced inquiries about what caused the Huskies to fall to Cal for the second consecutive season.

Petersen identified two major factors, one on each side of the ball. For the defense, it was missed tackles. And when he returned to the same room on Monday to talk to reporters again, Petersen reiterated that point.

“It’s almost like, just a little bit of that trying too hard thing,” Petersen said. “Sometimes guys are trying too hard to get out of a gap and that creates a bunch of space. And now the guy that’s coming knows there’s a bunch of a space ... We didn’t wrap up quite as well as we had.

“Like I said, there was some really good football on tape, but when we had issues it was that some of that type of stuff. When you see guys breaking tackles out there, you know it’s going to be a wrap-up tackling type of issue. You got to go through hard things sometimes to learn from it.”

The issue was particularly glaring during the third quarter as the Golden Bears ran for 124 of their 192 rushing yards. Marcel Dancy rushed for two touchdowns in the quarter, breaking several tackles on the first one to score from 20 yards out. Heading into the fourth, Cal had pulled ahead 17-13.

Dancy finished with 72 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries, an average of 10.3 yards per carry. In the third quarter, Cal averaged 8.9 yards per carry on 14 attempts. The Golden Bears averaged 5.1 yards per carry for the game.

“It was really good a lot of times,” Petersen said. “Coming out in that third quarter, it was not. It was like two drives. We looked at that and tried to figure out why it wasn’t. Three quarters of it across the board is a lot of good football and then all the sudden it’s like, ‘What are we doing?’ We kind of tightened up and played good ball again and then for the most part, played pretty good except for those two (drives) coming out of the half.”

Clock management questions

Petersen also revisited a few of his end-of-game decisions on Monday, most of them involving clock management.

A quick rundown: Chase Garbers hit Kekoa Crawford with a 27-yard pass that moved Cal to the 3-yard line with 1:16 left in the game. Petersen didn’t call a timeout, which allowed Cal to run the clock down to 44 seconds. After the game, Petersen said he didn’t want to call a timeout on first down when the clock already stopped briefly for the officials to move the chains.

Here, Petersen also could’ve instructed UW to allow Cal to score. Assuming the Golden Bears made the extra point, the Huskies would’ve had the ball back trailing 24-19, or 25-19 if they went for the two-point conversion. Afterward, UW would have had just more than a minute remaining to try to score a game-winning touchdown.

But Petersen didn’t go that route. Instead, Cal ran the ball three times and Greg Thomas hit the game-winning 17-yard field goal. By the time the Huskies got the ball back, there were just 8 seconds left on the clock — partially because Petersen waited 8 seconds before calling his final timeout.

“There was some time to ran off the clock when he lined up to kick the field goal where I wanted him to get in his stance,” Petersen said Monday. “But we’re talking a handful of seconds. That’s not going, in my opinion, to really influence the game.”

Of all those calls, Petersen said the biggest issue was the decision not to let the Golden Bears score. He doesn’t know that he would make a different decision if he could go back, but he did say it’s an issue the coaching staff would continue to analyze.

“There’s always consideration,” Petersen said. “We’re still figuring that one out, kind of where we want to be. You don’t see that much but I think that’s something you really have to look at and consider.”

Extra points

Senior wide receiver Quinten Pounds didn’t play in the first two games of the season. Pounds, who is coming off a major knee surgery, wasn’t ready to play in the season opener. While he’s now cleared to play, Pounds is in the midst of serving a suspension that started for the Cal game. He’ll also be suspended for the next two games against Hawaii and BYU. … Redshirt freshman wide receiver Trey Lowe also hasn’t played yet this season as he recovers from an infection. Petersen called it “a very strange situation health-wise.” … Junior Ty Jones is still listed as a backup receiver on UW’s two-deep. Jones will reportedly miss the majority of the season but Petersen said he’s “week-to-week.”

Lauren Kirschman is the UW Huskies beat writer for The News Tribune. She previously covered the Pittsburgh Steelers for PennLive.com. A Pennsylvania native and a University of Pittsburgh graduate, she also covered college athletics for the Beaver County Times from 2012-2016.
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