The 2019 college football. season is finally here.

And so are the weekly news conferences.

Sixth-year Washington coach Chris Petersen met the media at 11:30 a.m. Monday. The Huskies kick off their season against Eastern Washington at noon Saturday at Husky Stadium.

You can find the full transcript of Petersen’s news conference below.

Petersen: “Game week, finally. Been a long time. We’re excited, now getting into game mode, game plan mode, practice mode. I’ve been really proud of our guys and how they’ve worked since spring ball through summer camp, and I think we had a good August. Now the rhythm and everything changes. That’s the thing that’s interesting about it. You could feel the style and the practice tempos … it’s a little bit different, and in some ways it’s even harder than what we’ve been going through. I think they’ve kind of been getting used to that the last couple days. With that being said, fire away.”

Were you surprised at all with the decision Jake (Haener) made?

“Yeah, umm, yeah. Timing is a little bit awkward. So … I think that was a bit surprising.”

Are you at all concerned about that having an adverse effect on the team?


“Not at all. Because things are going to happen. That’s all we talk about, is everybody’s got to adjust. This is a bump in the road from how it goes — how a season goes. I mean, hey, you move on. That’s how it is. My guys have seen that, whether it’s players leaving injured and it’s next guy up, coaches moving on, all those things. That’s just life. So, not at all.”

How confident are you, if there’s a situation where Jacob Sirmon is coming in, in his ability to run the offense and lead that group?

“Yeah. Like we’ve been saying for quite a while, I think all those quarterbacks had a pretty good fall camp, and I think made a lot of progress since spring. I’m smiling because it was all about our starting quarterback — how confident we are. Now we’ve already moved to our backup quarterback. Let’s maybe start with that and stay there. Let’s go to the third stringer. So we’ll see. It’s time to play and see what guys can do.”

How much confidence do you have in Jacob Eason?

“Exactly. That’s the question, right? A lot. Again, I’m excited to go play. We still have a lot of work to do. It’s interesting. We say it on Monday that we’ve got to put everything together and all those types of things. So we do. We really have a lot of work to do. That’s how those game weeks go. But I think we’re all excited to play, knowing we’ve got some work to do this week.”

Did this (Haener transfer) catch you off guard at all? How does this change recruiting, with this transfer portal?

“I don’t think the transfer portal has much to do with it. Guys just go in there, and it is what it is, right? We’re still kind of back to square one. They go in there and everybody knows they can transfer. But other than that, everything’s kind of the same. Although no one really knows the rules, right, of what the transfer rules are. That’s a little bit of the problem. Who’s eligible, and who’s not? All those things.”


Did you see this transfer coming at all?

“I think the landscape, if you look at college football, you look at all those types of things. So we never bury our heads in the sand on all those types of things. We’re well aware of what could happen at all positions. So, yeah, getting back to your question: was it surprising? Yeah, the timing was surprising.”

You said that Jake would play against Eastern if he were still here. Do you feel the same about Jacob Sirmon, or does this change your plans a little bit?

“Yeah, a little bit. Those were the two guys who were battling it out. Jacob Sirmon, like I said, made nice, nice strides. But it’s a little bit different.”

What did Haener say to you, and how did you respond?

“We just had some discussions about what would be the right thing to do, and that was kind of that.”

Do you think this changes the mindset for Eason at all? Here’s a guy he battles and connected with, and now he’s gone.


“I think it certainly can help the whole dynamics. Things are a little bit more clear-cut, in terms of you’ve got a pecking order going forward. But like I said before, I think all those guys did a nice job. They were all good to each other in the room and supported each other. At the end of the day, the guy’s got to make a decision for himself, and he did it.”

Any other roster movement or long-term injuries?

“There’s always roster movement but nothing that’s noteworthy right now.”

How’s Eason different, besides the obvious that he’s huge? How’s he different than other quarterbacks?

“I think you’re hitting on it. The physical stature is different than certainly the guys that we’ve coached here. Jake was 6-2 and I think Cyler (Miles) was a little bit taller than that, and K.J. was around 6-2. Jacob Sirmon is 6-4. But he’s two inches taller. Taller, bigger … it feels a little bit different. So that’s one thing that’s a little bit different. He can see pretty good.”

How much do you change the offense to fit the personnel?

“It’s always the same. We try to play to our guys’ strengths. So if somebody throws certain routes better, we’ll do that. If somebody handles situational football differently, we’re always going to play to that quarterback’s strengths. It doesn’t matter who it is. We have our system, and the system’s flexible enough that we can kind of lean certain ways depending on who it is. Then you evolve and go. The offense was certainly much different in Jake Browning’s first year or two than it was the last. You just kind of evolve with football and what they’re good at, what they feel comfortable with. That’s not really different.”


What about with your running backs? They have their strengths as well.

“Yeah, that’s not different. We’re not calling different run plays because of who we have back there, in terms of not having Myles (Gaskin). He was just always so good. If things weren’t blocked exactly how they should be, he was probably going to get some extra yards.”

Any changes in preparation with your quarterback being a new guy than the guy who started the last four years?

“No. The process through spring football and even fall camp has been exactly the same. It hasn’t felt any different at all. The process that we go through, that we put them through, how we’re trying to build fundamentals and techniques and incorporate the schemes and those types of things, that process all feels the same. In some ways it’s been — I’m trying to think of the right word — it’s been energizing, because we’ve had so many guys that kind of know the drill. This way, you almost have to take a step back to make sure they know exactly what we’re doing and go over it and over it. There’s nothing that’s taken for granted.”

Does having a veteran offensive line coming back help the quarterback ease into it a bit?

“Well I think any time you’ve got veteran lines it’s going to help either side of the ball. That’s where it always starts. So certainly, yeah, it helps for sure.”


Salvon is now your No. 1 guy. Does he get the same amount of carries and kind of run as you gave Myles over the last four years?

“We’ll see. We evolved with Myles as well. Salvon’s had some really good carries for us, but it’s always week-to-week and game-to-game and see how he evolves, see how healthy he stays, see how other guys are playing and adjust and adapt from there.”

The freshmen and redshirt freshmen in the two-deeps in the secondary, there’s a lot of them. With Cam Williams and Kyler Gordon and all those guys, what did those guys do to impress — as well as Asa Turner and Trent McDuffie?

“Well, we’ve played a lot of young guys certainly back there over the years. So that philosophy hasn’t changed. I think the most important thing that they’ve done is just come in and they’ve really done a nice job grasping the schemes. They’re all very athletic, played a lot of football. We knew that coming in. Then it’s like, how do they adjust to this level of detail and intensity and all those things? We’ve been extremely excited about Cam Williams since spring ball — just in terms of his attention to detail and picking it up. So that hasn’t changed. Then those other new guys have followed right in those footsteps. So it’s good. We feel really good about those guys.”

We talked briefly Thursday about your comments after the Rose Bowl that you were going to take a deep dive on your offense. What are you hoping to see different?

“You’ve asked this question three different times. It’s the same thing. We looked at everything. We try to play to our strengths, and away we go.”


With so many young guys across the board on your roster, what’s the process like managing their nerves and excitement ahead of Week 1?

“I think if you watch all the Week 1 football games that have already been played, I think every coach is sitting there shaking his head and scratching his head, going, ‘How does this happen?’ You see so much football where I know they’re going, ‘Wow.’ The miscues, the self-inflicted negatives, the false starts and all that, that don’t show up like that in practice, until you get to the real game. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or even have a veteran team. That first game or two, there’s just a lot of that. So you talk about it, you show them that, you’re working on it. But there’s no substitute for going through it. You try to create the intensity in practice, but games are different. That’s the fun part, to go out and it’s different than practice.”

What’s your confidence like in Kyler Manu, and how has he kind of solidified his position?

“I’m excited for Kyler. He’s been here a long time. He’s the oldest guy on our team in terms of longevity, and it’s awesome to see how hard and long he’s battled, to finally get a really good opportunity to get major playing time and be a significant contributor. He’s contributed. That’s the one thing — over the years he’s been able to play a lot of football for us. But now it’s a different role for him. I think it’s great to see a guy who’s a fifth-year guy finally get his time to shine.”

The other Kyler on the defense, Kyler Gordon, won best hands in the room. Looks like you’ve got him at No. 1 on the depth chart. What did he do to win that?

“He played well. We’re going to play different guys in that secondary, too. That’s one thing that coach Lake and coach Harris have done. They’re going to rotate some guys. We’ve got our starters, but it’s always open competition. We’ve got some other guys that will probably play and deserve to play. But Kyler’s really athletic and the best hands thing doesn’t surprise us. He could be a receiver. We kind of knew that coming out of high school. We’re like, OK, what’s the best position for him? I always say this: if guys are thinking about being wide receivers or DBs in high school and it’s a flip of the coin, be a DB. Those guys are much more difficult to find.”


What is Trey Lowe’s role in this offense?

“I thin Trey’s a lot like Chico. When we recruited him he was a running back in high school who played some receiver. You could see he had really good ball skills. So there’s a lot of different things. I remember when we first got Chico we were thinking, ‘We need to play him.’ There was such a comfort level, we could play him at tailback if we got into trouble depth-wise there. Because that’s what they were in high school, and they’re shifty and all those things. I always think we should do more with them in the backfield by giving them the ball, even though they’re a receiver, because they can give us some personnel match up things. So I think Trey is similar in that.”

Do you think this is the deepest wide receiver corps you’ve had since you’ve been here?

“Umm … yeah. I’m thinking about that word, the ‘deepest.’ We’ve got a lot of guys there. We need some guys to go out, and that group, to take the next step. When you think about this is a group, experienced, playmaking crew, that’s one group that really needs to come on for our offense to take the next step. That’s something we’ve been on for quite a long time, and I’m not off that one yet.”

Speaking of Chico, he’s listed as a starter. What was the key to him working himself into that position after coming back?

“To me it’s just all about Chico getting back to the told Chico. I just think that that’s like such an unbelievable story and lesson for everybody to pay attention to. That’s how much these kids care, and this is still a game. The pressure that’s on these guys, that’s put on by themselves and the situation of big-time college football, it can sometimes get out of whack. We keep it in perspective, and it’s easy for me to sit here and talk about that. But we have to talk about it, and we have to coach it a certain way. Sometimes when guys get into a slump a little bit you do everything in your power to help them get out of it, but they really have to get themselves out of it. I think most all guys go through something like what Chico’s gone through in their career in college. Chico’s was just a little more visible and he had to take a little bit more extreme step to kind of get his focus back. But that’s really what I want everybody to pay attention to, from fans to the media. These are college kids. We’re not the Seahawks. We’re the Huskies. These are college kids, and all the things that are written about them and all those types of things have an effect.”

In the wide receiver room you had Ty Jones miss much of the spring. How have you see him progress throughout fall camp?


“There’s been progress. I think the whole group has made progress. I think it’s time that we go play and see what happens on the game field. But he’s got a couple years now under his belt, some good experience. So it’s time to see what he can do.”

Is he fully available with his hand and everything?

“That was a significant injury, and we didn’t get him back going until — he could run and all that stuff, but in terms of catching balls — it wasn’t before really fall camp started. So he’s been working through that.”

How much of a better kicker is Peyton Henry now after getting pushed by Tim Horn?

“That’s another hard question for me to answer, because the kicking thing is like anything. I think it shows up more at game time than it does at practice. But it’s been great. It really has. Competition truly is a good thing for human beings, if it’s kept in perspective. It can just bring the best out of you. I think even for Tim Horn, that’s been really good. I’ve really seen Tim improve a lot since he got here, the first couple practices, and settle down and get the timing and those type of things. So it’s been really good for both those guys. Now we’ve got to go play.”

Will Peyton handle both kickoffs and field goals for you?

“No, Tim’s going to kick off and Peyton will kick the field goals.”

Twelve o’clock start and then a night game the following week. How is game day different?


“We get up and go play with a smile on our face. The other game we wait around all day and then go play late. I mean, that’s what it is, right? We sit in a hotel room all day, or we get up and go play. That’s the difference.”

Where’s Henry Bainivalu at right now with his progress?

“He’s making progress. He really has. He’s another one of those guys where we’ve made progress and we’ll see how this thing continues to evolve.”

Given the two quarterback transfers you’ve had this year, do you think you need to approach recruiting the position in any different way?

“I think that’s something that’s always paid close attention to. You see it across the country. It’s just one spot to the next. This guy’s out. So it’s part of what’s going on right now, so it would be naïve of us to not pay attention to the dynamics of that room in particular, but certainly all rooms.”

Is there a way to recruit differently so you don’t have so many people competing for the same position?

“You can’t have one guy. That’s not going to work for us. So there’s always going to be a handful of guys competing for that position. So what the best order is and how that works, that’s never going to be scripted out like that. That’s just not how it works. Do we need to pay attention to it and have a strategy and help the whole situation? Absolutely. What that looks like is to be determined, and we’ll obviously keep paying attention to it.”


You guys obviously love using multiple tight ends. You’ve got Cade Otton OR Hunter Bryant (as starters) on the depth chart. How excited are you about that tandem and those two guys working together?

“It’s a good tandem, without question. I think the goal for us here at Washington is to develop more talent behind those guys. We’ve talked about this before. We need to recruit more guys in at that position, because we like to use those tight ends. So we feel good about some of the young guys we have here, but that’s going to be a position that is important to our offense. Those guys give us a lot of flexibility — both those two guys you mentioned. They’re kind of different, certainly, in their roles, but they both can do a lot of different things. So that’s why we like them, and it’s awesome to have those two guys.”

Corey Luciano has been listed as a tight end for a month now. How have you seen his transition go?

“He’s obviously another different type of (tight end). I always say this: you like this one prototype tight end or this one prototype wide receiver, who’s 6-4 and 210 pounds. Well they don’t all come in that (size), so you mix and match the groups. Same thing with the tight ends. Some guys are going to be more blocker-type guys, and some guys are going to be more pass receiver types. You’re always blending those, and Corey’s on the blocker-type side. So certainly the pass-game part of things would be different for him, but not the blocking part of things.”

Does Hunter (Bryant’s) injury history require you guys to manage his snaps differently?


Puka has looked good during camp. Do you foresee using him at some point?


“Yes. You better not ask me yes or no questions, because it’ll just be yes and move on. I’ll get back to both these right here. The reason I was thinking about that is because we do. We pay attention to everybody’s snaps, not only in the games but in practice. So, you know, certain guys that have a history of injuries, we’re going to pay more attention. But we really pay close attention to everybody’s snap count, yardage count, all those things in practice, let alone the games. So are we a little more sensitive if a guy’s been hurt before. Absolutely, at all positions. That’s kind of why I was thinking about that. And with the Puka thing, he’s been one of our freshmen that we’re planning on getting in the mix. Now what that means, I don’t know, because with this four-game rule, we’re planning on playing a handful of these guys (more than four games). But we’ll just kind of see how it goes down the road. We might end up playing more with injuries and all those things, and maybe it’s not a bunch the first game but it’s much more the first thing. It’s kind of a work in progress with all those things, but Puka’s done good.”

Give us some thoughts on Eastern.

“Wow. Twenty-five minutes (in). Yeah, I think everybody in this country’s got a lot of respect for Eastern Washington. Just the program itself, when Beau (Baldwin) was there and now Aaron Best has taken over, and they haven’t missed a beat. I think you look at their track record playing Pac-12 schools — what they do, how they battle, how hard they play — and you look at them in the conference and all the conference championships they’ve won, playing for national championships, all those things. This is not an ideal opener coming in here. When you watch the tape and what they do, there’s just a lot of respect. Then you factor that with, a lot of these kids on that team, we know they’re Washington kids. Those guys always bring a lot of pride coming into this stadium, playing hard.”

Given that Junior Adams coached briefly at Eastern Washington and now he’s here with you, A.) what have you seen with him as he’s meshed with the group in fall camp, and B.) did you know him back in the day?

“Yeah, there’s always one degree of separation, it seems like, in this coaching thing. He was coaching at Prosser High School with Tom Moore, and we had the Moore boys over at Boise. So, I mean, we’ve known each other for a long time. But he’s been a great addition. I think the guys really like him. He fits into our staff in an awesome way. It’s been really good, and I just love the fit that he has for us.”

You mentioned that there are a handful of freshmen that you’re not planning on redshirting. Are you able to divulge who those guys are?

“Well, there’s a couple guys at half the positions. We’re thinking about a couple of those DBs. We’re thinking about a linebacker or two. We’ve talked about Puka, Tim Horn. Yeah. We’ll just have to see how this thing evolves, to tell you the truth.”


Is there any reason to believe that Hunter wouldn’t be available for you guys in the opener?

“Huh? Why would we think that? No reason for me to think that. And just getting back to that, I’m not going to answer that, even if it was a no or a yes. So I don’t know why you even asked that.”

You can fair catch at the one (yard line) and get the ball at the 25 now on kickoffs. How does that change what you want from Sean McGrew?

“I think it changed last year. That was a little bit like the four-game rule. This was new territory for everybody, trying to figure out strategy. I think it does change it. That’s what the NCAA wants. They want that strategy change — less kickoff returns. It’s obvious. And when you do the research of how often that ball gets to the 25-yard line, the percentages say fair catch it. Now I think everybody’s got their strategy of when and where they’re going to do that. That’s where every team’s a little bit different, and you try to figure that out.”

So do you look for more of a hands guy on kickoff return, as opposed to a breakaway speed guy?

“No, I think it’s the same. There’s a little more decision-making involved there than maybe in the past, because when you’re going to fair catch and not or let it go. But if you’re going to go, you want one of the most explosive guys that has a really good feel for returning kicks to do it. Because if you’re going to go, you better get that thing past the 25, or what are we doing?”