Coming out of a bye, UW head coach Jimmy Lake met the media to preview Saturday’s homecoming game against UCLA on Monday.

Below is a full transcript of Lake’s address.

“Well, good morning. I missed you guys. Feels like it’s been a minute. First of all, the bye week was beneficial to our players. We got a lot of guys rested up and healed up. It was beneficial for us recruiting-wise. It was our first time we’ve been in high schools since February of 2020, and you could just feel the jolt of energy and enthusiasm by the high school coaches and also the prospects and the players, just seeing the Washington logo across the campuses, across all the footprint in the west coast and out into Texas. It was great to be able to evaluate these players in person, which all of us in college football have not been able to do for a long time and be able for us to see a bunch of high school football games as well. So that was really cool for all the prospects and underclassmen and seniors-to-be, for them to see colleges on their campus.

“A couple status updates here, injury-wise: first, for our coaching staff, coach Cato is getting better and he will be available for our games. Also coach Gregory, who had a non-COVID injury after our Oregon State game, he’s good to go. He’s on the mend. He’ll be healthy, and I’m glad he’s in good shape. Then a big one here, I’m so proud of this guy: Zion participated in his first full padded practice. It’s just really astounding, how he has been able to overcome such a devastating injury. I think I told you guys this way back when: you could just see it in his eyes the day it happened, that he was going to be determined to come back quicker than the experts thought. It looks like that’s the case. He is still week-to-week. But to see him in full dress and going full go was impressive. I’m so proud of his work ethic, and obviously our training staff and medical staff in getting him back this quick from such a devastating injury.

“Also, I know you guys already know this, but I want to officially announce Tim Horn decided to enter the transfer portal. We were not planning on redshirting him this year, but after the four games he wanted to preserve his year. So we definitely want to always make sure our players’ best interests are at heart. So we did grant that. Then after further discussion … he wants to be the starting placekicker, and at this point right now he’s our backup. So we wish him the best. And with that, I’ll take questions.”

On rust potentially being an issue for Zion Tupuola-Fetui:

“Of course rust is a real thing. Coming back from a devastating injury like that, that’s going to be (challenging) for anybody. But for an injury like his, there’s going to be for sure some rust. That’s for anybody. That’s not anything about Zion. That’s a horrible injury to take, and there’s going to be those butterflies that first play he plays, whenever that is. There’s going to be a little bit of, ‘OK, I have to catch up to game speed here. And I have to trust that the surgery and all the rehab worked, and be able to trust that thing as well.’”

On whether Gregory was with the team for the Oregon State game before his illness:

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“Yes. Yes. It was the day after, on Sunday.”

On if Tupuola-Fetui has to go through a set number of practices before playing:

“Correct. That’s correct, and he’s already reached that threshold. Just like when we start training camp, you have to start off with two days in helmets and then into shells and into full dress. He has to go through that same protocol, and he’s already cleared that.”

On if ZTF needs to be cleared separately to play in games than to practice:

“Yes (he’s cleared to play games). Now it’s going to be more of evaluating how much he can take rep-wise and stamina-wise. That’s the balance right now of what he’s going to be able to take here without just throwing him in there and saying, ‘Hey, here you go. Let’s go play 100 plays, and you haven’t played football in seven months.’”

On if ZTF is in playing shape:

“Yes, he is. Yes, he is. The same thing I’ve been saying, it’s extraordinary for an injury like this, for him to come back so quickly and be able to move around as fast as he is and to be in great shape. It goes to his attitude and his work ethic and him doing everything that our trainers and doctors told him to do and then some.”

On if ZTF is the same size he was last season:

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“He’s actually a little more trim, in a good way. He’s a little more trim and he’s in excellent shape. He’s definitely not out of shape, that’s for sure.”

On how ZTF looked moving around in practice:

“He looked great. We’re all excited for him. We’re all excited for … we know how much hard work he’s put in. For him to move around out there in full dress and be able to make some plays, it definitely gave a boost of energy to our team as well. It was fun to watch him move around.”

On whether the plan was always for ZTF to trim down before the injury:

“I think it was more something that, between our strength and conditioning staff, Tim Socha and his crew, and also Zion, I think they were kind of putting their heads together about what a better weight for him would be to maximize his capabilities. So I know he feels a lot better at this weight. He feels faster. He feels quicker, more explosive. So this will be no drop-off whatsoever in his play, with him being at this weight. I think he saw a lot of how Joe Tryon also dropped some weight and kind of leaned up a little bit and how explosive he is and how he changed his body. I think that had an effect on him as well.”

On what was learned from evaluating film during the bye week:

“We learned a ton. It was breaking down all five of those games, all three phases, the good things that we’re doing, but also maybe the good things that we’re doing that we know our opponents will catch up to, so now we have to make some tweaks and fix those things. But, then also the things that we’re not doing so well and how we can correct those, and so now we’ve got to make sure we’re correcting that. I think from a whole team standpoint, the biggest thing that we have to fix is our turnover ratio, which is not very good right now, and we know turnover ratio is a huge indicator on wins and losses. We need to protect the football better, and we need to get more turnovers. We’re working back to a better ratio right now. We started off with one of the worst in the country after the first two games, turning the ball over and not getting any turnovers. We’re making headway of getting back on the plus side, but that’s going to be a big — and has always been a big — push around here is to get more turnovers and to make sure we limit turnovers so we can win that turnover battle each game, and we know that is going to help us win more football games.”

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On what the identity offensively needs to be for this group:

“I think, again, we have to make sure that we’re playing to our strengths. We have to make sure we utilize the players that we have available and how we can get them the football. Whether we’re running it, whether we’re throwing it, we have to make sure we’re running plays and protections that our offensive line and tight ends and fullbacks and tailbacks can make sure they can go out there and perform and execute at a high level. And so, it still comes back to we have to find a running game, and then off that running game we have to find a passing game where we can protect Dylan (Morris) and make sure we get the ball out on time. And after Game 2 we’ve made some tweaks, we made some strides. We’re still nowhere where we need to be. This bye week has been nice to really rehash through it all again and be able to go, OK, who are our best players? How are we going to get the ball in these guys’ hands, whether we’re throwing it or running it? And how we can protect our quarterback to make sure he can make plays, but also limit turnovers. And it’s a continued work in progress, but I think we’re making strides since Game 2.”

On if offensive players have been put in positions that weren’t playing to their strengths:

“Yeah, and I think when you’re going into it, you probably think the opposite and then all the sudden you’re like, you know what, maybe it’s better if we do these things, and we’re better at these. And I think that’s the growth progress that we’ve had on that side of the ball. But I would say the same thing on defense as well. We’ve had some other schemes in that other players have been able to handle and are better at, and then now all the sudden we’ve flipped and done some different things on defense because we’re settling in on who our personnel is and what they can handle and what they can’t, and what they’re better at, so we’re going to lean more towards those calls. And then really going back to offense in the first couple of games, it was very personnel driven, who was available. And as you guys all know we had some players not available, so we were definitely trying to get some schematics in there to help our players be successful. We’re in a way better position now with almost everybody healthy. And so we’re planning on showing a lot more progress here coming up in Game 6.”

On what the opportunity is this week with more players healthy:

“Of course we’re very happy that we’re on the mend and it’s probably as healthy as we’ve been since training camp. And yeah, you guys see the chaos of college football right now, and in our conference, but you look across college football, teams are taking on losses where maybe people thought they weren’t going to take a loss. A lot of twists and turns in the top 25, and then you just look in the Pac-12, and you look in the Pac-12 North especially, there’s a lot of football to be played. A lot of football to be played. So we know this last game didn’t go the way we wanted it to. We know we played a really good football team, and a couple plays here or there, we’re atop the Pac-12 North. We’ve got a lot of football left to play, and a lot of things can happen. And so, our team is hungry and we’re ready for this next opportunity.”

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On what the message was to recruits was following a difficult start:

“Yeah. No. It’s way more positive than that. A lot of these guys we’ve been recruiting for a while. You could just see the gleam in their eye when they’re like ‘wow, now you’re actually here in person and we’re seeing ya’. They watch the games. The game of football, like I mentioned before, teaches you so much about perseverance. Some of these players and staffs that we went to go see they’re going to through their own perseverance. They’re 0-4. They’re 0-5. They’re 2-3. They’re 1-4. Some of them are 3-0, 4-0, whatever it may be. Football has its up’s and down’s. The coaches and the players that are in this game we all understand that there’s up’s and downs. And so, it was all positive. There was no negative whatsoever.” 

On if Lake feels like he’s recruiting to the level that the program needs to achieve its goals:

“Yeah, I really like our players. I’ve liked our players that we’ve signed here since 2014 that’ve helped us win two of our Pac-12 Championships out of I believe the 17 in the history of this program. So I really liked all of the players we recruited. I’ve liked our last couple classes. I like the one that’s arrived here that was supposed to be in the 2022 class, but now he reclassified – Emeka (Megwa). He’s going to be a big-time football player for the University of Washington. And we have some, you know, obviously it’s not bindable right now, but we have some commits that we feel really, really good about. And then some other players that we’re still changing just like the rest of the country are chasing and trying to sign on Signing Day. So, the history has shown we’ve been able to sign players and develop them, make them All-Conference players and make them NFL players better than anybody out west. 

On if Lake would’ve been able to go to the Arizona-UCLA game:

“No. No. I did not go. I did not go. I mean, we’re so buzzy trying – we’re so excited to get out on the road and go see these prospects, see these coaches. That was the last thing on any of our minds was to go to a college football game. We need to go see these prospects, who we haven’t seen since February 2020. Think about that. Now, they’ve been able to come here in the last few months on unofficials and officials here on campus. But we have not been able to go to high school’s since February 2020 – the whole country has not. It was so uplifting. It was so uplifting for us, but for those players – all the high school kids. To see colleges and the University of Washington in their building that was our focus on the bye week. To go out and reconnect with those coaching staff’s and for those prospects to be able to see the Washington logo walking the hallways.” 

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On how Lake would describe his role as a recruiter as a head coach compared to as an assistant:

“The difference obviously for me just worrying about defensive players and DB’s over the years, now I get to look at everybody. So, the role is now instead of me just focusing on defensive players and talking to defensive families I’m talking to offense, special teams and defensive families, and watching all the film. Put a lot of trust in our recruiting staff and our position coaches, to make sure they are going out and finding the players that we want here at the University of Washington. But then I’m able to watch all the film. Before it was watch the defensive players and now I’m watching everybody. And then I’m in contact with everybody. On the phone via text every prospect that we’re recruiting. So that’s the biggest difference.”

 On if Lake tries to take a proactive role in recruiting:

“I would say initially when we find the prospect that’s going to be more our recruiting staff and our coaches. That’s always been the case. And then once we find out who we want now here we go. I’m on the front of that, along with the recruiting coach and the position coach.” 

 On Zach Charbonnet, what stands out on film and if he got the sense of his ability as a recruit:

“Oh no. No. No. No. Because there was other players at that same school at the same time so we were very well aware of the talent and we recruited him for a while. Big-time football player. Really good size. You guys know I like big running backs. He’s got really good size. He’s got good speed. We also did a lot of work on him because we thought we were going to play him in 2020 here in Husky Stadium when he was at the University of Michigan. So we did a lot of study on him there when he was across the country. Now, of course you can see the season he’s having right now. So we’ve done a lot of work on him. He’s a special football player. He was a special football player coming out of high school. You could see he’s that and then some now in college. It’ll be a tough running back to bring down on Saturday.”

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On MJ Ale taking his spot back at left guard from Julius Buelow:

“They’re not the same guy. They’re two really good football players that we feel really good about that are competing for a spot. If either of them are in there, we feel confident they are going to get the job done. But they are both players that are fighting for that spot and just like across our whole team there’s competition going on all the time. Competition brings out the best in you and the cream usually rises to the top. Those two guys will keep competing here throughout the season.”

On trying to defend UCLA’s run game:

“They do a lot different. I think I’ve told you guys I have a lot of respect for Chip (Kelly), I think he really changed football – not just college football – he changed football with all the different schemes he was running years ago, even when he was back in New Hampshire and of course his run at Oregon. Now you can see he’s doing some different things schematics-wise that cause defenses problems. And then throw in there they have talented players, they have a quarterback that can also hurt you with his legs. They present a lot of challenges, and Justin Frye, their Offensive Coordinator who I have a lot of respect for, he does a lot of different, multiple things that you normally don’t see week-in and week-out. And so it’s definitely going to be a huge challenge for us defensively. They’ve been able to churn out a lot of yards, so when you can combine a scheme that’s on the cutting edge with really good football players and a coaching staff that’s doing some next-level stuff, it’s going to be a tough contest on Saturday.”

On Taj Davis and his role and evolution now after five games:

“His role is, he’s one of our top guys. We’ve had our receivers come back more healthy now. It’s going to be more distributed now across the guys that are healthy. I’m fired up for Taj. Taj has exceeded expectations. He’s gaining confidence, week-in and week-out and I’m excited where his game is going to be here moving forward.

“He’s never played here before, so his evolution is, he caught his first few passes, he caught his first touchdown pass, he’s coming off a tough year last year obviously with COVID and the pandemic. I’m so proud of him where he’s at now. He’s bigger, he’s stronger, you can see he’s more confident. He knows the plays, he’s able to go out there and execute them. You can just see the growth and development that Taj has had since he’s arrived on campus, and we’re really excited about his trajectory here moving forward.”

On if the NFL changed Chip Kelly much:

“The cool thing is, he changed the NFL as well. A lot of the plays he was running in the NFL at the time, even though it didn’t go I’m sure as successful as he wanted it to go in his two stops, he changed a lot of the way defenses handled that type of offense, but also the way offenses were calling plays. I think Chip deserves a lot of that credit. And then definitely you see a transition in the type of plays he’s running from 10 years ago to now. Just like all of us, trying to grow and develop and get better. We know if we stay the same and do the exact same things, people will eventually catch up to it. So I think he’s done a good job evolving and I think he’s a heck of a ball coach. He’s done a lot for this game.”

On the throwback uniforms and the older logo:

“Really excited that this has come together. We thought this would be a great time for our homecoming game. This is usually when we get the most former players back in town. To be able to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of our 1991 National Championship, we felt this game was perfect for it. I know our players are excited to wear the throwback uniforms and wear the throwback logos and the nostalgia of the logo and the old uniform dating back to our best year in the history of Husky Football will be special for all our former players, and of course Husky Nation.”