Petersen on first-year Oregon coach Willie Taggart: "He’s done a really, really good job."

Share story

Washington coach Chris Petersen had his regular Monday press conference to review the victory over UCLA and look ahead to Saturday’s rivalry game against Oregon at Husky Stadium (7 p.m., FS1):

(on the run game against UCLA) “When you run the ball that much you’re going to see it all and the o-line did a good job of keeping guys covered and the backs were running hard, breaking some tackles. It was good to see those guys go.”

(Are you going to try and use more of that going forward or try and be more balanced?) “We just kind of game plan every week and go from there, see what we think we can do.”

(What were the d-linemen doing successfully to get consistent penetration?) “They are pretty physical guys. It wasn’t anything really special. There are pretty good players there and they play physical. Each game they usually make plays.”

(How well did they do bottling him up in the pocket?) “He’s going to be in the pocket anyways. He’s a pocket passer. But they put pressure on him, so that was good because if you don’t put pressure on him he’s going to stand in there and hold the ball as long as he needs to. He does such a nice job of getting it out on time and he will hold it as long as he needs to and it’s a nice combination. I think the key to a quarterback like that is getting pressure on him as soon as you can so he can’t hold it and get rid of it when he wants to.”

(What have you seen out of Oregon’s defense now with new DC Jim Leavitt?) “I think they are doing a nice job. One thing that jumps out to me about this whole team is that they play really hard. They play very similar to how they played at Colorado in coverage and tight coverage. Those are the two things that jump out is they play hard and the coverage is tighter than it was.”

(Where do you see the passing game right now?) “I think we’re week-to-week on that whole thing. It just depends on what we think we need to do. We always talk about balance and those type of things but quickly go to where we think we want to go and need to go and where we’re having success.”

(What did the tape show when you watched Andrew Kirkland and Luke Wattenberg?) “Both guys did some good stuff. I think we can play and win with both guys. I think both will continue to play and we may even move them around a little bit to get in the mix at other places. That’s a good thing to have that we’ve got guys that we think can compete at this level to win. So to not just lock in and have those two guys, we may do some other things with them as well.”

(So you like the idea of rotating them, or are you looking for a starter?) “I think we’re still trying to get our best guys out there. I think both those guys can compete to win and it’s all about building depth and getting guys more reps. Kirkland has had a lot of reps, does a nice job. Luke has not had a lot of reps and he’s going to continue to get better with reps. It’s that combination and maybe those guys play there together. We’re looking at all different things.”

(Is Hunter Bryant week to week?) “I think Hunter will be out for a significant period of time. We still haven’t got the final official ruling, but again, until I hear from doctors, this is what it is. They’re still looking at a couple of things. He’ll be out for a while. That I can say.”

(Was it the helmet to the knee that injured Hunter Bryant?) “Yeah, kind of that. I think his foot was in the ground. Didn’t quite get it out of the ground to get in the air before he got hit.”

(Is there an additional challenge to preparing for a team when you aren’t sure who will be under center?) “All you can do is kind of prepare for their schemes. You see their schemes, there’s a lot of tape to look at by this point in the season. They’re going to emphasize certain things with certain quarterbacks. You’re kind of mindful of that, but you have to prepare to stop their scheme.”

(on the differences between the two quarterbacks?) “When Justin (Herbert) was in there they throw it more, they’ve thrown it more than they did. These guys are a run – they run the ball well. They have a good offensive line and excellent, excellent skill. That’s what they do real well anyways.”

(How is Oregon different scheme-wise than hey were in previous years?) “It’s similar. It’s similar. They get their athletes in space. It’s very similar. It’s not the same system, but it’s that style for sure.”

(Do you see any similarities between Oregon’s running backs and Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman?) “Not necessarily. I think Royce Freeman is an elite back. Obviously we’ve seen him for a long time and he’s healthy and running hard. He’s a hard guy to tackle. He’s a physical guy. Their other guys, they have a great group of guys where they have that speed on the edge that they’ll fly sweep and (Tony) Brooks-James will move around and create ways to get him touches. The other guys, I think they’re creative with how they do it. They kind of game plan. Royce (Freeman) is the guy in the backfield that they’re going to make sure they hand behind the tackles and the other guys, they’re kind of putting them on the edges and those type of things.”

(What has Royce Freeman done this year to bring him back to form?) “I think it’s all about health. I don’t know the specifics. I know he was banged up last year and when a guy is banged up it’s just hard to have the production than when you’re healthy, especially at that position. That’s probably the number one thing. Two years ago when we played him, he was really, really good. Last year I think he had some injuries and now he’s back to where he was or better.”

(How satisfying was it to see Tristan make all of his kicks?) “Yeah, like I said I was just really happy for him because I know he can do it. We’ve seen in for too many — not just this year, for years he’s been practicing and kicking and all those things and we feel like we know him pretty good. Just for him to get a little momentum going is what we really felt like we needed to happen. I was really confident that he was going to make it. Like I said, how he practiced, but you still have to go out there and do it. I figured one he made the first one, it would take some pressure off him and he could kick a little freer.”

(on Salvon Ahmed returning kicks) “Yeah, Salvon can do some really good things we know with the ball in his hands. That was good, but I do go back to saying how those guys upfront blocked it pretty clean, better than maybe we had in the past. A little combination of both of those things can make for big plays.”

(on Sean McGrew’s status) “Sean, he’ll be there and all those things. We’re just kind of moving pieces around and always competing and going.”

(on Willie Taggart’s transition to Oregon compared to Petersen’s transition from Boise) “I think every situation’s much, much different, depending on what’s going on with the place. But I think he’s done a really, really good job. I mean, obviously. You just watch these guys play and the talent they have and the energy they play with. It definitely is a new dynamic down there, for sure.”

(on recruiting at a Power Five vs. Group of Five) “I think every situation’s going it’s unique challenges. You’re always just trading one set of challenges for another set of problems, is a way I look at it. A lot of times the problems are the same, but sometimes there are different problems. But there’s always a set of problems you’re trying to solve.”

(Looking back at 70-21 breakthrough in Eugene last year — how did that happen?) “I don’t know. I mean, it was one of those games where it just all clicked. You always have those games now and again where everything just kind of goes right, and I think that was one of those games last year.”

(From game-management standpoint, how did Browning do vs. UCLA?) “I think he was OK. Eleven passes. We’ve been saying the same thing about the run game — we’ve got to give ourselves a chance to get into a rhythm and do some things. Maybe the (three) he didn’t complete, he would like to have back. But it’s kind of hard to asses. That was just a different game plan. We haven’t seen a whole like that in a long time. I think the last time I saw a game like that was the first time I called plays. I was the wide receiver coach and the first time I called plays we ran the ball like 60 times. I remember going, ‘What? You’re the wide receiver coach — do you know how to throw the ball?’ It’s been a long time since then, but sometimes those games are good to have. Like I said, we’ll just do whatever we think we need to do, and if it means throw it all the time we certainly think we have the guys to do that; but that was a game to run it.”

(Do you feel like the downfield passing game is where it needs to be at this point?) “I think we’re always trying to figure out ways to create explosive plays. If you’re going off the last two games, no — (but) we didn’t try it this game at all. Obviously, you’re living in the past so you need to get in the future, OK? (laughter.) Let’s move forward here. We played a good game, we beat a good team and you just want to just drum up the negative. Can we not just move forward there? (smiling.) But I expect it. It’s OK. I’m ready.”

(on DJ Beavers’ return) “Good. Really good to have him out there. I think he’s a heck of a player. And he hadn’t played for a long time, hadn’t tackled in a long time. He had been practicing a little bit but it’s different when you go live. But we got him out there and he created a turnover. He knocked the ball out, so he’s a nice guy to have back in the mix for sure.”

(Going against Oregon with their run game good to have LB depth) “At this time of the season, anywhere you can say you have depth that’s always a good thing, especially those linebackers because those guys are going to play a lot on special teams. That’s really important.”

(on Azeem at outside linebacker) “Yeah, no question. I think Azeem is a unique guy. We know he can play inside and we’ve got some guys there so you’re trying to create some things off the edge and put speed on the field and all that. Was the first time we had an opportunity to kind of get him there. Hopefully we keep building off that. It was good to see.”

(Lubick any help in a game like this or that overblown) “It’s completely different systems. On offense they look similar but there’s not one coach over there that’s the same and the defense is completely different systems. So I think it’s probably more than a little bit overrated in terms of that. We study the tape really hard on personnel anyways and it’s always interesting we like to make our own opinions before someone tells us that might know some stuff. We just try and see what we see on tape because guys change tremendously anyway in months, the kids as players change tremendously.”

(on Byron Murphy) “He’s getting closer. Making progress there too. He’s getting closer.”

(Myles Bryant’s game) “Really good. Did a nice job. He’s one of the guys who stood out to us. Guy is an amazing guy. Just his whole story. Playing out on the edge is different than playing inside where we’ve been playing him most of the time. Did a really good job.”

(What does Myles Bryant offer on the island?) “He’s got all the things you want in a football player. He really does. He’s smart, he’s crafty, he studies the game, he competes at a really high level. Those are the kinds of guys you love to go play games with. If they were all like that, had that mindset, it’d be something special. Really like how he plays the game.”

(Reaction when he got scholarship and any change) “No. His reaction when he got a scholarship was kind of what we expected. Didn’t know if he really cared or not. I know he did but htat’s just Myles. He’s that even-keel competitor. Doesn’t get too rattled one way or another and just goes about his business. Nah, haven’t seen anything different out of him one way or another.”

(Another night game for Oregon — feel the need to apologize to fans?) “Good try.”

(Feel extra buzz for UCLA with an afternoon start?) “I thought it was awesome. I mean, I don’t know extra buzz. This place is always awesome to come to no matter when it is, but I don’t know if any of you guys were complaining, that’s for sure.”