UW coach says he did an "average" job in his first season on Montlake.
Chris Petersen, in an interview Thursday with KJR’s “Mitch in the Morning” show, critiqued himself as doing an “average” job during his first season as the Washington coach.
“There wasn’t a lot that was really enjoyable (last season),” he said. “I don’t think anyone came here to be average, so that was hard.”
Before the interview, Petersen said he had attended an “intense” players workout, a month before the Huskies start spring practices on March 30.
Petersen talked about a number of topics — the Huskies’ quarterback competition heading into spring, Marcus Peters and his return to Boise State for the 2015 opener. Here is the full interview:
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And here are some highlights:
Petersen was asked about having “fun,” going back to a question he was asked on the same show during the season. (I also wrote about that in December.)
“Am I happy I took the job at Washington? Absolutely. … I’m really happy that I did that,” he said. “All the reasons that I did leave (Boise) and came here — to be challenged, to grow, to take this program where everybody wants it to go — that is the mission in life around here.”
“There are certain aspects (of the job) that I really enjoy. And this is one of the time’s of the year that I really do enjoy. Because what I really do enjoy is going into the film room and studying football and studying offensive football and breaking it down and tearing ourselves apart. And how do we take the next step? And how do we get more detailed? I have fun with that. So that’s part of the process that’s going on here right now.”
What’s the part of the job, Petersen was asked, that you don’t find fun?
“I’m not thrilled to go have a bunch of media press conferences, those types of things. I don’t find it a lot of fun when there’s discipline issues going on and you have to go protect the kids. That part I don’t like, where kids make mistakes, it’s so public and they really don’t know all of what went on. And a lot of it to me shouldn’t be everybody else’s business a lot of times about that; you know, when you’re trying to help kids grow and you’re trying to do things right for your program and but then it’s out there in the middle of the paper for everybody to see. That’s hard for me and for the kids and their families and those types of things. That’s really hard. But it’s also really, really important that we do things correctly and then we get them corrected. But the fact that that has to be public, that’s what I was talking about — you just want to do your job kind of by yourself and get things right, but you can’t do them by yourself. That’s part of the beauty of sports, that everybody wants to know what’s up.”
Was discipline with this team last year far greater than it had been Boise in past years?
“We were at Boise for a long time, so the kids and the coaches and everybody just knew how we did things and what was expected. You go anywhere new and those expectations are just different. Not right or wrong, but just different. … The thing that was enjoyable about the season last year — because in my mind, there wasn’t a lot that was really enjoyable; I don’t think anyone came here to be average, so that was hard — but I did feel like we made progress the last third of the season, even when we lost the Arizona game, the energy, the focus, the fight, the commitment — that all felt different from then on. So what was disappointing about that, the last third, was obviously the bowl game. Because I thought the kids practiced hard during the bowl practices, I thought they did a good job down there in Arizona getting ready. And our defense came out and played well in the first quarter, getting some turnovers, and we didn’t respond on offense. And that had been one of the things: When didn’t respond together … if our defense did well and our offense didn’t score points, we had a hard time getting going. It kind of rattled us. And we went right back to that mentality. And then at halftime, guys are ticked off and we’re really embarrassed and we come out and play like we should’ve played from the start. So I think there’s a lot of lessons that we all learned there. …”
On evaluating his coaching job in 2014:
“Hey, I’m a direct reflection of what you’re seeing on the field. So, to me, it was average. My job was average. … That’s what our record was. We were swinging for all we were worth trying to get everybody going, but at the end of the day it was average. So that’s how I would evaluate myself.”
On Marcus Peters’ dismissal in November:
“It wasn’t any one particular thing. The thing that was really frustrating, that was really embarrassing for the media, was that there was a report that Marcus got into a fight and an argument with an assistant coach. That wasn’t even kind of true. That was so false. That was really, really bent for nobody else but for Marcus’ sake because that wasn’t fair to Marcus. That didn’t even kind of happen. So I would love to sit here and detail everything that went on … but it’s not really anyone else’s business other than the team and Marcus.
If I can interject here: I know “the media” is a wide-ranging, nebulous thing that folks like to clump together, but let the record show that it was an anonymous scout, not an established media member, that claimed to have witnessed the choke. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, quoting an anonymous scout, was the first to mention the choke, which has since been refuted a number of times, first by UW assistant coaches Pete Kwiatkowski and Jimmy Lake, then Peters himself and now, it seems, Petersen.
Anyway … more from Petersen:
On the quarterback competition going into the spring:
“I’m as anxious and curious to see this thing as anybody. And I know that we’re going to get better at quarterback, there’s no doubt about that. Just by the nature of the competition that’s going on, and I love that. … We’re going to have to have a seating chart (going into spring); it’s not a starting lineup by any stretch. But Cyler’s been here and done some things, so as we start that first day, he’s going to get some reps with the starters, but we’re going to mix that thing up and we’re going to get everybody a look. And I’m excited to see it.”
On freshmen quarterbacks being ready to play right out of high school:
“I’m shocked when we play any true freshmen. I don’t think people really understand how complicated this game has got, how sophisticated, how detailed it is. And playing in this conference against the best of the best, when you a freshman out there, that’s really hard to do. And some of these guys go out there and compete at a really, really high level. And to me … I’m just amazed. And now you go to the quarterback — there’s no tougher position than that position to play. I think it’s the greatest position in all of sports with the sophistication that comes with it. And some of these guys that play, like Tom Brady and Russell Wilson, the best of the best, how simple they make it look (when) it is so stinkin’ complex. So you just assume. … With that being said, it is so hard — it is so hard for any freshman, let alone a quarterback. So that’s why you just don’t want to get these expectations out of whack for these young guys, for Jake Browning, for K.J. They’re good players and they’re going to be really good down the road. I don’t know what down the road means, if it means game one or next year. You just don’t know, and that’s why I’m anxious to see this quarterback competition myself.”
On returning to Boise State for the 2015 opener:
“I’m not worried about myself. What needs to happen around here is for everybody that’s going to play in that game from over here, they need to understand how emotional that game is. There will be as much energy and focus and excitement as any game in college football in a long time. I just know how that game is. When in past when I was over there, when we played a big game and a Pac-12 team would come in — everybody wants to see that, because there’s not many Pac-12 teams that go over there on the blue turf. So when that happens, the fans are excited but the players will be extremely, extremely focused and ready to go. …. Everybody’s going to have to understand what we’re walking into.”