Back to work.
Chris Petersen, Washington football coach, told reporters how his team used its bye week wisely. The Huskies practiced a few times, lifted some and rested before they close the regular season with Oregon State and Washington State, beginning with the Beavers on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
A big topic for Petersen in his Monday morning briefing was reuniting on the football field with Jonathan Smith, the first-year Oregon State and former Huskies offensive coordinator--Petersen is a big fan of Smith's.
What he couldn’t talk about what was the Seattle Times reported, as confirmed by Damon Huard: that the Huskies coach made a weekend scholarship offer to Sam Huard, Kennedy Catholic sophomore and son of Damon, the former UW and NFL quarterback and now Huskies game-day radio analyst. Sam is tall like his dad, lefthanded and tall like his uncle, Brock Huard.
Here’s what Petersen had to say in his 20-30-minute give and take with the media:
(Opening comment) “A 1:30 game. Greatest setting in college football. Cannot wait. I think our guys had a good bye week, got some work done. Anxious to have a good week of practice and go play.”
(On the challenges of preparing to play a coach in Jonathan Smith, who’s intimately familiar with you and your schemes?) “There’s a lot of talk about that. He knows this, he knows that, he knows. Watch our tape and there’s some close similarities. Things we’ve talked about, paid attention to, have to make a few tweaks.”
(What did you like about Jonathan Smith in all the years you coached with him?) “He’s an awesome person. That’s first and foremost what I always gravitate towards. I think he’s a heck of coach, I really do. I really enjoyed working with him, I think we saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things. Where we started with the offense to where it ended up when he left was really good.”
(On Smith’s help in developing Jake Browning) “He coached him as long as anybody obviously other than his high school coach. I think he did a great job with him, those guys had a good rapport. I think it was good. He’s a really good guy, easy to be around and all those important things.”
(Was being a head coach something you saw in him?) “Not really. I think this thing kind of fell in his lap and he perked up. He was pretty locked in to being an OC and I’m sure down the road, but he was pretty focused on that. And then that opportunity came and he rolled with it.”
(When do you create your own identity after being an assistant for so long?) “I think you’re always evolving. I think it takes a couple of years. I think you do what you know, what you’ve seen, what works and you structure it that way. You’re continually tweaking and changing, saying that really doesn’t work for me and I think it’s better this way or that way and you just go. You structure things how you know them, how you’ve seen them work and you do it that way and then experience is the ultimate; it can be the real catalyst to help you move forward.”
(How recruiting plays into that?) “All that matters. You recruit to your philosophy and what you’re all about. That certainly helps and makes a big difference.”
(On building a culture and the timeframe and seeing some similarities with OSU that you saw when you first got to UW) “I don’t know about the inner workings. Only they know about that. Only I can tell about what shows up on tape. On offense it looks, really, there’s a lot of things that you know exactly what’s going on there. He’s doing a great job with them, he really is. For his first year, to have those first-year players and it looks like they’re all in on that for sure. Now the day-to-day workings, the culture and all that, that’s hard for me to know on the outside. But I know offensive scheme-wise, which is his area of expertise, you know what he’s doing.”
(Based on the familiarity between the two teams, how much does that ultimately play a factor in the game? Or is that aspect overrated?) “It still comes down to kids executing. It always does that. We’re not going to know what plays are being run and vice versa. Their schemes, we’re familiar with that they’re familiar with that will come out during the game. They would know that anyways. Sometimes you can know too much. He knows a lot about us, but there’s a lot of stuff if you’re going to try to defend it all.”
(On OSU’s defense) “So that’s completely different. You get game 11 and you’ve seen a lot of styles and you know the similar blitz patterns. You’ve seen what they’re all about. They’ll bring blitzes from the boundary, blitzes from the field, it’s just percentages of what you’re going to get. You see how they are trying to keep you off-balance with corner blitzes and those things that are a little unique to them.”
(Senior Day and what that moment is like?) “I hope that they are really focused on the game and not too wrapped up in the last one at Husky Stadium, because we have a lot more ball to play and practice here. But you really hope they’re thinking about appreciating all they’ve been through and all they’ve accomplished, their teammates. I hope they’re thinking about that a little bit this week as we prepare to play the best that we can play.”
(Do you remember your last college game?) “Kind of. I remember throwing an interception to basically get us knocked out of the playoffs. That’s all I really remember. In those days when you’re in the playoffs, one team wins it all. That’s the interesting thing about our situation. Everybody else, whether it’s the NFL, FCS, the high schools, there’s one team left standing. And unless you’re one of those four teams right now, you go to bowl games and half of them win, half of them lose. It’s a completely different feeling than being in a tournament.”
(Could they adapt a tournament format for the FBS?) “It sure seems like it could. There’s just so much politics involved. That’s the one thing that I’ve learned: there’s so many politics. Everybody’s trying to defend their turf. You get a little glimpse of what it’s probably like in Congress. Nothing can really get done when everybody is just trying to protect themselves and their own interests.”
(On if Petersen watched the Stanford-Oregon State game this weekend?) “I watched some of it.”
(If it’s hard to evaluate a team following a 31-point loss?) “I mean, we have all their tapes. So we’ve been evaluating and paying attention to that. I think it’s interesting to watch a game in its continuous fashion. We watch so many cut-ups that all of a sudden you’re watching the offensive side of the ball and they start a drive at the 35, or someone’s like, ‘How’d that happen?’ Well, because of a big kick return or an interception, or something, and that changes the mojo of the game. So it is interesting to watch the whole game and how to evaluate it there. I think it’s a little bit of a hard game for us to evaluate the Stanford game because Stanford is unique. In terms of how they’re going about it on offense. They throw four balls to the tight end that are all contested, that he makes unbelievable plays, the 6-7 tight end. We’re not doing that. So you’re always looking like, ‘How does this tape help you. How does this equate to us and how does this help us?’ When I watch that tape I’m like, ‘Well, that doesn’t have anything to do with us.’”
(On Trey Adams returning for a fifth year and that conversation, and if he will play this year?) “Yeah. We’ll see. We’re kind of on a week-to-week basis with him and we’ll kind of see how all that goes.”
(On Stanford’s tight ends against Oregon State’s defensive backs; if that reflects better given the success UW had?) “Well, they did some of that to us, as well. I mean those kids were draped all over those tight ends and Costello threw it in there, and it’s like, ‘How do you defend that?’ I know we were talking about it on defense, like down the road it’s like, ‘OK, next step for this is this.’ But it is, it is, no one’s really done it. We’ve been able to cancel those guys out. So it’s unique to have big guys like that that are true pass-catchers. They just keep making the same plays game after game and no one’s really cracked the code on how to defend that.” (28:52W's Chris Petersen
(On how the bye week helped UW) “I think it was, really, you get this deep into the season you kind of get rejuvenated a little bit. They had some time off. We didn’t practice a bunch but when we did it was really productive and so it felt pretty good. And so I think those guys will have a couple good practices here this week. There’s no excuses for being too tired or anything like that. So here we go. We got two games left. We see where that whole thing takes us, but it was a good chance to get rested up.”
(On Oregon State QB Jake Luton, a Marysville native) “He can sling it. I mean, he’s one of those big, tall over-the-top guys. You let him set his feet he throws it as well as anybody. You watch the Colorado game and they got so far behind. And then at halftime he comes in and he’s standing back there just making all the throws. It’s like, ‘Where’d this guy come from?’ It was really, really impressive. You’re always wondering like well how did that happen? Different games they were so far behind. One of the reasons they came back is he made some really, really impressive throws, and if you let him set his feet he can sling as good as anybody.”
(On Oregon State’s run game and if they align style-wise like any other teams UW has faced) “No. I don’t know about style of backs. I just think he’s just a really good runner. I mean schemes look familiar, and then you can see what a good back can do with those schemes. It’s impressive for a freshman to do what he’s done. He’s been extremely durable. Both of them have been effective but that’s a guy that’s impressive.”
(Is it better to go into the bye week with a win?) “I don’t know. Probably. There’s nothing like losing and have to sit around for two weeks. It was just good to get back to work and kind of get back to some basics and get the kids really rested up was the good thing. Maybe it’s just because it’s so much later in the year.”
(How can you flip a late bye week into a positive?) “I don’t think there’s anything to flip. I think the guys feel pretty good that they got this time off. I think they used the time wisely, like I said. They lifted a little bit. We’re not out of shape or anything like that. And got rested up. I think it was much needed. It might not have been as needed had we had it earlier in the year but certainly now it’s good to have.”
(Do you have a responsibility to help guys on staff that want to be a head coach?) “Absolutely. Every one of them. For me, I think about our coaches as much as I think about our players in terms of how we run the program, the things that I saw to them, the things that we’re all about. For sure.”
(What does that look like?) “It’s every day. That’s what our program is all about whether that’s for our players. So many team meetings. I’ve probably had more coaches that I’ve been with over the time say, ‘I’ve gotten more out of the team meetings than probably the players have,’ when I’m talking to the players about how we’re going to do things. That’s one of the reasons that I stay on the philosophy that we’re on. It’s not always about the players. It’s about us as coaches first. I like to pay close attention to the philosophy that we’re all about, first and foremost for myself. I like to continually remind myself what we’re all about, about what I want this program to be about, about how I think principles of success carry over to all parts of your life. And so, that’s what I do. Kind of nonstop.
(On whether he wants a good assistant to stay) “My job is to help people achieve what they want in life. I can’t do it for them, but we try to set this up. If something is better for their family and them, they need to go. There’s the next coach and we’ll get him in here and we’ll develop those guys. That’s how it is. I never think twice about that if it’s better for them. It’s their decision. If they want my two cents, I’ll always put it in. I see a lot of coaches make poor decisions that I don’t think that situation is better because it’s more money or the title is different. Can you learn? Can you grow? Can you be set up for success as you go from this? I’m just not talking about our guys. I just see it across the country. Why would that be a better thing? Whether it’s being with us or somewhere else. I’m like, ‘I sure wouldn’t do that.’ But everybody has to kill their own snakes in life, right?”
(What’s the scope of your conversations with Jonathan Smith about Oregon State?) “I don’t remember exactly. I think with the ties to that place and all that, I think he was really intrigued by it. Obviously.”
(On Jimmy Lake and the defensive back group) “The fact that those guys you were talking about that were all true freshmen last year that didn’t start but played. Played some good reps. We’re almost at the end of this season so those guys are not like young players at all. I think if you count the reps that they’ve had over the years, game reps and then factor in practice reps. These are pretty experienced players. That’s how you like to have it. You know late in the season you’re not playing with the same crew that you started with. That just doesn’t happen or not often. The plan is kind of always like that. We got to get a bunch if players ready to play when you’re playing with how many DBs we always play with.”
(On Will Harris’ first season as DB coach) “He’s fit nicely into that DB room. He’s fit nicely in with our staff. I think he’s really learning and paying attention to how we do it. It’s been really, really smooth.”
(Does early signing period change intensity in the office?) “We’re obviously recruiting every day here. Then when you can go out in the contact, it doesn’t really feel like it’s different. You’d think that because there’s a signing period but it just feels like you’ve been doing the same thing for a long period of time. You got the kids that are committed, then all the guys come in and try to change their mind. All the ridiculous stuff that goes on it’s like, ‘Really?’ Yeah.”
(How do you know when it’s time to offer a player?) “When you’ve done all your homework and research. That’s how we do it. We’re probably one of the few crews that really slows down. We don’t have problems offering early. We’re not just doing it because a guy’s got other offers or anything like that. We just want to feel like we’ve done good homework and the guy would fit us and we like how they play.”
(Importance of having a QB early to anchor a recruiting class) “There’s no harder position to get right. Just ask the guys in the NFL. So you’re trying to do homework and I think there’s certain characteristics everybody’s into besides the physical characteristics. Then you keep wondering how the guy’s going to develop and progress. Some guys do a great job with it and some guys don’t. That’s human nature and life and you’re trying to watch that. Yeah, that’s the world we live in in college football.”
(You mentioned restrictions; what kind would you like to see?) “I just think, some of these kids are so so young when they’re getting offered. It’s just interesting, that whole offer thing. I remember Rich Rodriguez said a handful of years ago: “If you want to put an end to this early offering stuff, have no signing day. If you want to offer a kid, have him sign right then and there and watch these offers get cut by three-quarters.’ You start thinking about it, yeah, you start cutting these offers and that kid can sign that. You’re not going to throw these things out like they’re candy.”
(The previous regime here offered a 12-year-old QB) “I’m just saying everybody’s got their style and the philosophy.”
(If QB is the toughest position to recruit, where does defensive tackle fit in?) “They’re just hard to find. We know exactly what they look like: They play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If you know where those guys are, tell us and we’ll try to go get them. They’re just hard to find, those big guys who have twitch to them and can move mountains. They’re just hard to find.”
(Does the process get sped up with the early signing period?) “No. We only have so many ‘eval’ days we can be out. We can only go to a school one time, so you usually use those days you have. A big chunk of it comes in the bye week because you can get everybody out. But you’re sending coaches sporadically out during the season, so whether you have it early or late you usually end up using the 40 days. You’re just still kind of ‘eval-ing’ kids in the fall, whether they’re underclassmen or guys that are seniors. That’s what it’s for. It doesn’t really change. You get your 40 days, or 42 days, and we use most of them.”
(On wrapping up class during December signing period) “We’ll see. The majority’s leaning toward signing earlier, which I think that’s great. That’s why they made the early signing period, because there’s so many kids that were committed and that’s what most of them were doing. So those that have it figured out, you sign early. … Then there’s a handful of guys who will reassess and you go from there.”
(Recruits’ desire to enroll early) “It doesn’t (influence recruiting). I think we’re going to have more than we’ve probably had — it is happening more and more. But, for me, I am right down the middle on it. If that’s what a kid and his family are all about, awesome. But if a kid wants to say in high school and play basketball and run track and go to the prom and all those things, I am all about that as well. So to me it just depends on where the kid’s mind is on this whole thing. High school goes super fast and college goes super fast, and I’m just about maximizing your time in these short windows that we have.”
(On recruiting a legacy kid) “I’m not sure what he’s talking about (sarcasm). He’s getting too close to what I can talk about, so next question.”
(On recruiting against former assistant coaches at other programs) “I don’t like it at all, because they know exactly what our style is and they usually implement the same styles and all those types of things. I like it when our guys get jobs on the East Coast. I don’t think that’s happened, but that’s what I would really like.
(You had previously said you were targeting this week for Shane Bowman to come back from a broken foot …) “Yep, I think he’s getting close. We’ll see.”
(Four-game redshirt rule influencing the evaluation of players) “For us, we’ve played (fewer) true freshmen. They’ve played (less), which has been really interesting. I don’t think we anticipated that going into this. I don’t know if we have a guy that is going to play — that is going to count this year (all are still eligible to redshirt). But we’ve played a handful of these guys and I don’t think we really anticipated that going in. … For whatever reason, just how it’s shaken out, we haven’t done that (played a freshman in more than four games) just yet. That’s probably been the biggest thing — probably biggest unexpected thing with our situation this year. It’s been good, though. It’s been nice because we’ve been able to play ahead and say, ‘Hey, we want to get this guy ready in two weeks.’ Because you need a little time. It’s very hard to say, ‘OK, we’ve got this guy, let’s just throw him in.’ A lot of times they’re on the scout team and it’s completely different than when all of a sudden you have to know what your assignment is and that ball that was just completed on you really matters now. … It’s not quite that simple, so it’s been nice to plan ahead a little bit.”
(Hunter Bryant) “I think he’s making really good progress, and we’re kind of rolling with him.”