Petersen on Colorado's star receiver: “He’s an excellent player. He’s one of the better players in this league without question."

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Washington coach Chris Petersen on Monday reviewed the overtime loss at Oregon and previewed Saturday’s home game against Colorado (12:30 p.m., Fox):

(Opening) “I think it was two good teams playing football, and again congratulations to Oregon. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game. They’re a good team. Coach Cristobal has done a nice job down there and they did what they needed to do.

“With that being said, I can’t tell you the passion we have for our guys, how hard they prepare, how hard they play, how they just keep playing the game the way it was meant to be played. Just proud of these guys. I like being around them. Like coaching them. That being said – yesterday and today? They’re hard days. When you lay it on the line like that and you don’t get it done and come up a play or two short, it’s painful. It should be painful. And it is.

“You put the tape on and they play hard and they know what they’re doing. It comes down to details here and there and if we can keep practicing like we’ve been practicing and take those lessons from the game – when this thing is all said and done I think we’ll feel good about ourselves.”

(On the game being choppy and lack of momentum shifts …) “I think that’s kind of how it goes. You have two pretty good defenses. They’re not going to let you get into a true rhythm and at times they did. They drove the field on us and we did that a little bit but then they hit you with a three-and-out and I think that’s kind of what happens when you’re playing a pretty good teams. It’s hard to get into a good rhythm staying on the field. I think the third down percentages by both offenses were okay, but still it was a little bit choppy.”

(On wearing a ‘Stay Positive’ T-shirt to the press conference …) “My friend Jon Gordon (gave it to him). I saw it last night when I went home and said, actually I had it yesterday and I had it on just for myself, and then this morning he texted me and I was planning on wearing it anyways and he said you can probably use this in the job you have. I was like yeah, I need 25 of these just to keep recycling them every day.”

(On thinking about moving the ball closer to the end zone at the end of regulation …) “I do think this: Hindsight, if I knew then what I know now … I really felt like we were in great shape. I think with two timeouts — I tell our guys this all the time, our players: We’re all in this together. The first guys we second-guess and nitpick to death is ourselves as coaches. There’s no harder critic … even when it goes good. We go back, we’ll watch the tape four and five times from everything we can think of. How do we help these guys be in a better situation. Is this the right thing to do?”

“So at that time, we really felt good about where we were. But with two timeouts, I probably would have called timeout, discussed with Bush if he had a play he really liked. Now with that said, you’re not going to call timeout and not run a play. So you’re probably going to run a play, get Peyton a little bit closer, just make him feel more comfortable. But it was all extremely calculated. We kicked into the wind in the third quarter knowing we wanted the wind in the fourth quarter knowing it could come down to this. So leg strength and all that was not even kind of an issue from where the ball was. We’ve practice that exact situation for probably the last eight weeks — that hash, that situation, calling timeout. Now, the games are different than practice, like we always say. I think everybody on our sideline thought we would get that done. But for me to have a do-over knowing what I know now to get the ball a little closer for him? Yeah.”

(On the playbook shrinking before the game-winning field-goal attempt …) “Absolutely. There’s no question. We make the (kicker), we make we’re not even – I’m not wearing this shirt. We’re having a different conversation. We know that, but it is what it is. And so you kind of like where you are. You feel like you have a really good chance to make (the kick), from everything we’ve seen in practice for a long period of time now. And you do what you think is right and what is best. But we’re not going to take a shot in the end zone at that situation to chance that ball getting picked off, to get knocked back out of field-goal range or something like that. And we’re also exactly where we want to be hash wise. But, all that being said, would you like — I think it makes the kicker feel a little more comfortable because you’re a little bit closer.”

(On the conversation with Henry after the miss …) “Good. You know I told him way back when, I’m like, ‘You’ve got a nice leg and you just keep working like you’re working, and you’re going to do some really good things.’ All you want him to do is keep working. Be all in. Lock in. Put their best in they got and sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.”

(On the analysis of Oregon’s final touchdown run in OT …) “Yeah. They just did a nice job finding it. That’s a hard play to stop, you know. We had a couple guys that were close there. Kind of got knocked out of gaps and they probably ran that play, I don’t know, 25 times during the game. Those backs got a great feel of where to crease it and where to go. I think our line was moving a little bit anyways, kind of out of gap a little bit.”

(On the thought process when Oregon called the timeout before the overtime TD run …) “You’re talking about the last play they scored? Yeah. I mean there’s a bunch of different, you know, ways they can go. You figure they’re going to try to run the ball. I actually thought they were probably going to run that play. They’d run it so many times it was so effective for them. To get one yard and they ended up getting more than one yard. They creased us pretty good.”

(On the 3rd-and-11 conversion for Oregon in OT: Would you prefer to be more aggressive there?) “Yeah. I mean, it’s the same thing. I mean, yeah, I mean, yeah. And then you blitz him and Herbert sets his feet, you got them in one-on-one coverage, so I mean it’s a cat-and-mouse game the whole time. You know I just really think that. I mean, we were aggressive. We put pressure on the quarterback most times. You’re just trying to mix things up and do what you think is best.”

(On having only one sack against Oregon and the pass rush overall …) “Yeah, we’d like to get more without question. Now I do think that we were getting there. We were around him. We were hitting him. So sometimes it’s not going to always show up as sacks, but you know I think that’s a big part of the game on defense. If you can get turnovers, get to that quarterback and knock him back, but he’s a hard guy to get a hold of. He’s elusive. He strong. He gets it out quick. Their line does a good job and so it’s a little bit of that back and forth game.”

(On how Petersen feels about the UW defensive back vs Herbert …) “I thought we did a good job against an excellent quarterback. That guy can – he’s a big-time thrower and he can run. I thought we did a really solid job against a really, really good player. I think our defense played well against him. I mean I really do think it’s two good teams going at it that came down to — we had other chances. I know you guys want to spend time talking about that, but we can talk about the 4th and 1 that we didn’t get kind of going hurry up. We could talk about getting down there in overtime to the six-yard line with a fresh set of downs. We end up up kicking a field goal. Peyton’s awesome. I know it’s shorter but doesn’t flinch and goes in there. We knew he’d make that. You know we can go on and on, even backtracking. Now with that being said, I mean there’s so many good plays that you know, whatever, good plays. It’s about winning the game or not winning the game. But I couldn’t be more proud of Jake Browning. Second play has a bad throw and then just locks in and makes big-time throws and does his deal. I mean that’s hard. You get off to a rocky start. Short memory and away we go. I think Drew Sample made some tough catches. Just those guys playing hard. Our guys on defense, too. I mean Ben Burr-Kirven. That guy needs a cape. He’s something else. Taylor Rapp: I mean, he’s as good as they come. We can just go on and on. When you put that tape on you watch these kids play you’re like it’s impressive football going on.”

(on pass rush) “We’d like to get more, without question. I do think we were getting there, we were around there, we were hitting him. It’s not always going to show up as sacks. I think that’s a big part of the game on defense if you can get turnovers and get to that quarterback and knock him back. He’s a hard guy to get ahold of. He’s elusive and he’s strong and he gets it out quick. The line does a good job so it’s a little bit of that back-and-forth game.

(Feel good about DBs performance?) “I thought we did a good job against an excellent quarterback. He’s a big-time thrower and he can run. And I thought we did a really solid job against a really, really good player. I think our defense played well against him. I really do think it’s two good teams going at it. We had other chances. I know you guys want to spend time talking about that. We can talk about the fourth-and-1 that we didn’t get kind of going hurry-up. We can talk about getting down there in overtime to the 6-yard line with a fresh set of downs and we end up kicking a field goal. Peyton’s awesome. I know it’s shorter but doesn’t flinch, goes in there. We knew he’d make that. We can go on and on, even backtracking. With that being said, There’s so many good plays. And whatever good plays, right? It’s about winning the game or not winning the game but I couldn’t be more proud of Jake Browning. Second play, has a bad throw and then just locks in and plays nails and makes big-time throws and does his deal. That’s hard. You get off to a rocky start. Short memory and away we go. I think Drew Sample made some tough catches. Just those guys playing hard. Our guys on defense, too. Ben Burr-Kirven, that guy needs a cape. He’s something else. Taylor Rapp, he’s as good as they come. You could go on and on. You put that tape on and watch those kids play and you’re like, there’s impressive football going on.

(Putting Oregon in fourth down …) “I like our chances a lot better on third down. Percentages, that’s a run team. I don’t think they’ve been stopped not getting 1 yard ever. That’s just a thought. Can we knock them back? Maybe. But there was no thought of that.”

(Mechanics of UW’s fourth-and-1 call that ended in fumble …) “I don’t know. The noise was so loud for us to go there. I don’t want to get into mechanics. There was close to being offsides. There was some things there. It was just one of those things that is like, you’d like to have a do-over on that.”

(on refs holding up UW after muddle huddle on that fourth down) “They shouldn’t hold us (up) like that. We’re in the huddle. We stay in there so they can match personnel when you come in there and then away we go. There are a lot of different little factors there that you’d probably like to have that one back.

(Think about calling timeout before fourth-and-1 play?) “It goes so fast. We had the play. We were going to come out of the huddle quickly. I was more concerned with the noise at that point, going on that cadence and all those things than anything else.”

(Offensive line take another step?) “I think they played hard. It’s a good run defense and we ran the ball. I don’t know about another step. I think they played hard. I think they played well. Did we like progress and go, ‘OK, this is the next step as a group.’ I don’t know. There were a couple guys in there that battled pretty hard. They all battled. I thought Nick Harris had a pretty good game. We got more to us, we do. I think they’d all say that.

(on Jaylen Johnson’s targeting call) “This is what I think about that. I’m just always trying to think, ‘OK, what’s the next step?’ You can talk about stuff all you want. I must say details a million times. That does nothing. You have to practice that way. So, I’m going to say this and I still think it kind of means nothing because you have to practice this way but I think you have to play this game like you don’t have a helmet on. I don’t see guys doing that. There’s going to be a small percentage, those bang-bang plays where you’ll probably lose some teeth and those types of things if you didn’t have a helmet on. It’s just going to be the thing now. It’s hard to do because you do have a helmet on and it’s not the same reaction of taking your head completely out of it. Those are hard ones. Jaylen turns around and the quarterback runs right back into him. We’ve seen that a few times this season. How do you coach that? You’re trying to think. That’s really all I can say is if your head’s involved there, it’s risky business.”

(Do you want that play called a penalty?) “I think that play was like, really critical to that whole game, I really do. We had them and then we gave them a first down. With all that being said, I do want that called. I think that’s good for the game of football. There’s no messing around in college football. And it’s painful. With Jaylen, there was no intent. We all know that. It was just bang-bang. It just happened. We’re trying to do the best we can for this game and these kids. There’s so much less grey area than it used to be when we started this and a lot of complaining and a lot of that. It’s just not. It is what it is. We’re trying to take the head out of the game.

(on practicing without helmets) “We tackle with no helmets (during some drills in practice). … To get the real reps, at 100 percent, no we don’t do that. That’s probably not safe to practice like that, but I think all coaches are still trying to evolve and figure out the best way to take the next step. I think we’ve made really big progress in the last handful of years in this whole thing, but how do we take the next step?”

(You said you’re OK with the ejection being part of the game …) “I want the kids to be safe.”

(What about the suspension part for the next game?) “I’ve always thought that that’s really hard. It feels different when a kid gets thrown out in the game and they can come back the next game, as opposed to he has to sit the whole first half in the locker room. That doesn’t seem the same to me.”

(on third- and fourth-string running backs (McGrew and Pleasant) getting extra touches vs. Oregon) “That’s how it is this time of the season. … Myles has been such a workhorse and he’s just so durable, but in this game there’s going to be times when you can’t go with your first guys, especially at that position. I’ve said this a million times: You have to have a handful of good tailbacks, because that position just takes too much pounding. So that’s kind of what went on and the next guys have been practicing their tails off and they went in and did a nice job. … Your hats off to those kids, and I think we do do a good job in practice of getting those guys reps and building skill, and it’s been going on for a long time. And over time, if you practice the right way, we keep telling them: ‘Your time is going to come.’ A lot of time it’s not on your timetable, but you hang in there and you be persistent and you keep doing it right, your time will come.’”

(on McGrew’s progress the last year or so) “He’s done a really nice job. It’s hard. These kids are all competitive. They’re all really good players and they’ve done great things in high school and  to come here and wait your turn, but like I said: The cream will rise to the top. Sometimes it’s not on their timetable, but if you stick to the process I really believe it will work out how it’s supposed to.”

(Any update on Gaskin or Ahmed?) “Both of those guys are, I would say they’re week to week. They’re not any of that (long term). Those running backs take a lot of pounding.”

(on Jordan Miller’s status) “I’d say he’s the same. It’s that time of the season, is really what it is. The only guy we have long term that’s not going to play any more football for us this year is Quinten Pounds. He hurt his knee again. So he won’t play any more for us this year.

(On Gaskin and Ahmed going back in the game — were they lobbying to go in?) “Well, they’re tough guys. It’s that fine line between you can really go and help us and just the guy standing next you can help us more. They were both doing what they can do.”

(On developing a second and third receiver and not relying on just one …) “I don’t know. It seems like you always have that.  I think every team has that. I like it when it’s spread around and you have a bunch of guys with equal catches. The more the merrier and it’s harder to defend. But sometimes it just works out that way.”

(on Ty Jones development …) “Ty has been great. We’ve said this all along, last year he didn’t have a bunch of catches but he was awesome. You knew his time was coming very soon because of how hard he practiced and his attitude. You can just feel these things from these guys. You just know. You’ve been coaching long enough. If that guy keeps doing what he’s been doing with that focus and that determination with the God-given tools he already has it’s going to be a short amount of time before he does some things and Ty has been that guy.”

(Any moment where it seemed Oregon’s defense took an aspect away?) “Yeah, they certainly tweaked some things without question. That time off, helped them. I say this, everybody has got 85 scholarships and pretty good players, everybody has pretty good coaches, you give them time they can figure out what you do well. We know a lot of things, how to stop things but that’s not the important thing. Can you get your kids to do it in this short amount of time. Have a little more time they did a nice job with the adjustments.

(Any details?) “It would be very coaching details in terms of some stuff they had done and had changed. Like I said we get that every week though. People are who they are but there are always game plan adjustments and then you’re adjusting during the game saying ‘this is different than it was last year or last week they had shown.’ And you know certainly when you’re facing a team with a bye there is going to be a few more adjustments than there normally are.”

(In overtime, you had first-and-goal at the 6 and no TD. Was the Wildcat to Sean McGrew the right read?) “It was the right thing. Sometimes they read it, sometimes they don’t. We did the right thing. It’s tough sledding down there. But you know we had the ball on the 6 and you’d like to score touchdowns, not kick field goals.”

(First Colorado question …) “Let’s go. That’s a good football team.”

(on Colorado WR Laviska Shenault) “He’s an excellent player. He’s one of the better players in this league without question. They move him all around. Smart, they’ve got good coaches over in Colorado as well and they find different ways to get him the ball and he’s hard to tackle He’s 6-2, 220 and he’s a big, strong, elusive guy. He’s one of the better players in the conference without a doubt.”

(On playing true freshman Kyler Gordon vs. Oregon) “Just kind of that time in the season where you could use some fresh legs out there running around and get him a little experience. Been practicing really hard. We’ve looked for a couple of games as we’ve gotten deeper in the season. I think he’s coached a little bit different how they want to approach this and help their group. That was one of the games a couple of weeks out thought this may be a good time just looking at the schedule and the wear and tear on our guys to get him involved.”

(He still on the four-game plan) “(Yes). We’ll see, but I think we’re still thinking four games. But things can change rapidly.”

(Tuli and Sam Taimani  also traveled — is there a thought they would play?) “They’re still kind of on that four-game progression situation.”

(How important is that four-game redshirt rule?) “I think it’s a good thing. I think all coaches think that. I think it keeps the guys, they do a lot of scout work, but they do get some reps with the travel squad and I think it keeps them motivated and it does give us a piece of mind that we can use some of the these guys and not lose a year super late.”

(on Oregon’s long kickoff returns …) “Missed a couple of tackles. Couple of guys got out of their lanes. They’ve got a really fast, pretty good returner. It’s a combination of all those things.”

(Halfway through season, thoughts on new kickoff rule …) “It seems to be having an effect. Without question. I don’t think you’re seeing nearly as many. I think that’s kind of my main impression of it.”