When asked about Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, UW's Chris Petersen said: 'It's a tough business. It's cyclical. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it doesn't . And you live week to week.' '
For the second straight game, the Huskies face a Pac-12 opponent riddled with injuries.
Last Friday, they won 44-6 while clobbering a shorthanded Stanford team that played without it’s two starting cornerbacks.
On Saturday, No. 5 Washington rolls into Oregon to face a Ducks team that’s missing at least three starters.
Conversely, Washington (5-0, 2-0 in Pac-12) has managed to avoid the injury bug nearing the midpoint of the season.
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“It’s just luck,” coach Chris Petersen said. “That’s all it is. I don’t know what else to say. Sometimes like, really? We’ve stayed relatively healthy and that’s always going to be one of the keys for anybody.
“Here’s the hard part about it. You can get all your guys injured, which a lot of teams have a lot of guys injured, and no one cares. You still have to figure it out. Even though it’s a huge factor, no one even kind of cares. That’s another reality of this thing that we do.”
Petersen touched on the tempest swirling around Oregon coach Mark Helfrich. Some disgruntled Ducks fans are looking to replace Helfrich after the team’s 2-3 start, which seems premature for a guy who had a 35-11 record in the previous three seasons and guided Oregon to the national title game in 2014.
A fairly innocuous question about Petersen’s friendship with Helfrich elicited a passionate response from the UW coach.
“He’s an awesome guy,” Petersen said. “He’s a great guy. You know, I mean, I know what you’re getting at. This is a nasty business. You guys can be nasty guys at times you know. I mean you got to write what you got to write. But he’s a great guy. He’s a smart guy.
“And like I say, it’s a tough business. It’s cyclical. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it doesn’t. And you live week to week. So do we. We get how fast it can change around here. You just, all that we’ve done in the past doesn’t matter. It’s the next game. And that’s the business we’re in and away we go.”
Here’s everything Petersen had to say after Thursday morning’s practice during his final media availability before Saturday’s game.
(On practice this week) “They practiced pretty well. You get to this part of the season, I think our job as coaches is to keep it as fresh as we can because there’s just a lot of routine. And routine can turn to a little bit of staleness and those types of things. I think they’re pretty focused and running around pretty good.”
(On how do you keep things fresh) “That’s a good question. It’s probably more just our demeanor and just how we talk to them and those types of things. The process doesn’t change a whole ton. The game plans change so that’s enough to keep them on their toes. We’re always trying to think of little creative ways to keep it fresh. That’s the whole thing. If you don’t have good energy. You know energy goes away if there’s not creativity and freshness. And we’re aware of that and we’re trying to always figure that out.”
(On it being easy to get team to rally knowing they’re going on the road and into a hostile environment) “When they look at it like that, for sure. I think these guys are pretty good at one day at a time. It’s not like they’re looking past that. They know that we practice on Tuesday and that’s a hard practice. We practice one Wednesday and that’s hard. So they don’t look so far. It’s always in the back of their minds, but there’s no getting around those days to really prepare.”
(On if UW’s approach changes considering Oregon’s uncertainty at QB) “Their situation doesn’t change us. Certainly the styles that we play and the schemes we see changes every week. Who knows who plays on either side of the ball so you just got to go defend systems and be ready to adjust and adapt.”
(On why Oregon’s system is so challenging) “First of all they got good players. They have as much speed as we’ve seen for sure. It’s a semi-hard offense to replicate in practice because they go so fast. To get your scout teams up to speed, they can line up and kind of run the plays. But with the precision that they run them? That’s a whole another challenge. So it is hard to replicate in practice.”
(On Arizona game preparing UW for Oregon) “I think so. Hopefully we’re prepared. We’re back on the road in an energized environment – as much as anything we’ve seen so far. The only thing that would be close to it is what we had at home. But it’s not going to be for us this time. Certainly the style with all the speed and spreading you out and those types of things. The scheme is different, but the style is similar.”
(On Petersen’s days at Oregon) “Let me say this, I was there so long ago it doesn’t even really count. We all know this, it’s a really hard place to play. But it’s also a really cool environment. It’s what college football should be all about. I mean these are the times like our stadium last week and going into a stadium like this. It’s passionate college football. So that’s always a cool thing and we can’t lose sight of being involved with that.”
(On if he stays in touch with Oregon coach Mark Helfrich) “I sure do.”
(During the season?) “No. I don’t stay in touch with anybody but my wife and these assistant coaches and these kids.”
(On what kind of guy is Helfrich) “He’s an awesome guy. He’s a great guy. You know, I mean, I know what you’re getting at. This is a nasty business. You guys can be nasty guys at times you know. I mean you got to write what you got to write. But he’s a great guy. He’s a smart guy. And like I say, it’s a tough business. It’s cyclical. Sometimes it goes well. Sometimes it doesn’t . And you live week to week. So do we. We get how fast it can change around here. You just, all that we’ve done in the past doesn’t matter. It’s the next game. And that’s the business we’re in and away we go.”
(On Oregon’s defense) “Well, I do see this, we just always study tape in terms of structure, scheme, how to attack it, who their playmakers are, when they’re playing at their best. They have all that there; they really do. This is such a game of momentum and confidence. I say that every single week and it can change rapidly on us. You just prepare from the things that you’ve seen best on tape and you hope that your kids are mature enough to look at the same thing and our guys have been. I think we all know how this game is going to go. It will be a hard, hard fought contest.”
(How much have you prepared your player for noise this week?) “We did the same thing – we do it every week. We don’t go out there ever were it’s quiet; that’s just not the football we play in. You emphasize one side of the ball depending if you’re home or away. We emphasized the heck out of it for the offense when we went to Arizona. You saw, we had some issues with that as well. It’s a hard thing to really prepare for, although every snap has basically been prepared with some noise.”
(On the defense being able to hear this week) “They can hear, they can hear. Oregon counter that with the tempo. What’s the distraction when you’re in their stadium? It’s just go fast, go fast, go fast, and that can wear on you.”
(Will you sub a lot against Oregon like you did against Stanford?) “We always try to play guys and we usually do play a fair amount. You’re not going to be subbing every play. They don’t allow that just in terms of their tempo and stuff. We’re ready for that as well.”
(Is there a correlation between recruiting and the team’s success?) “Without question. It’s all about recruiting. You’re not going to win games without really good players. Let’s just start and stop with that. You can have whoever in here coaching. If you don’t have good players you’re not going to win. We have good players. It always traces right back to bloodlines of college football, which is recruiting.”
(Are more doors opening with the recent success?) “Yeah, you know, I do. I think we’ve felt really good about our recruiting process since we’ve been here. Sometimes it just takes a while for things to come together and guys to grow up and get the players and all those things. But we’re felt really good about it since we’ve been here. That’s one of the – I think Washington has a ton to offer besides football.”
(On staying relatively healthy) “It’s just luck. That’s all it is. I don’t know what else to say. Sometimes like, really? We’ve stayed relatively healthy and that’s always going to be one of the keys for anybody. Here’s the hard part about it; you can get all your guys injured, which a lot of teams have a lot of guys injured, and no one cares. You still have to figure it out. Even though it’s a huge factor, no one even kind of cares. That’s another reality of this thing that we do.”
(Is it special to see a lot of Husky fans traveling to Eugene for this game?) “Yeah. I think it’s great. I also think that’s one of the neat things about our conference. It’s not so spread out. I think people take that a little bit for granted. The conference that I was in before, and conferences, it can be all over the place. And that’s really hard on fans. So to be able to catch a quick flight or drive in a half a day, I think that stuff is important and I think it makes it good for college football.”