Petersen on Gaskin's big game vs. Utah: "He's excellent. That's what Myles does."

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Washington coach Chris Petersen on Monday reviewed the Huskies’ 21-7 victory at Utah and looked ahead to Saturday’s home game against Arizona State (7:30 p.m., ESPN):

(Opening) “Really proud of our guys, how hard they fought and I really mean that. That’s a hard place to play and they’ve got an excellent defense. Our defense played really well and just proud we could go over there in game three and played physical and all the things that we’re trying to be about. Obviously we’ll clean up some things on offense as we keep going but I don’t underestimate the importance of being able to go over there and how hard those guys played and made it happen.”

(How impressed were you with how physical your secondary played without getting flags?) “That’s the goal, that’s the idea. We’ve been working on it really, really hard and I think it showed up. It’s hard to play like that but it shows it can be done and we’ll keep working on it. We’re by no means saying we’re always going to be able to stay like that but we work hard on it.”

(on Myles Gaskin) “He’s excellent. That’s what Myles does. If we’re going to give him the ball enough and our offensive line keeps guys relatively covered he’s going to make his plays. He’s slippery, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s all those things. We’ve just got to give him a chance to get things started and he’s going to find creases.”

(on giving the other running backs carries too …) “You guys tell me. We’ve got Myles back there and then we’ve got these other guys so you’ve got to pick and choose and throw the ball some. So we’re well aware of it. Some of it has to do with health things during the week. Guys can practice full speed and guys that can’t, it’s hard. From Chico still coming back from what he’s come back from and all those different things.”

(Is there a concern with Salvon Ahmed?) “There’s no concerns. Nope. We’re good. But it’s always week-to-week and go from there.”

(How big a difference can a full crowd make at Husky Stadium?) “That’s what it’s all about. When this place gets packed, huge advantage for us. Huge advantage for any team. You go into any stadium. That’s why I was so proud of our guys going into Utah. That’s really hard to weather that storm. It’s just another element that comes into the stadium, whether it’s wind or rain or noise and that energy. Over time it makes a difference. So it’s exciting to be home and hopefully be able to fill the stadium up. That’s when it is the greatest setting.”

(Do you remember another game where it seemed to be that many big, clean hits by your defense?) “I don’t know about those big hits kind of being out in space, it seemed to be a few more of those. And to not get penalties on them is more impressive because usually when you’re seeing that there’s a flag coming somewhere. But I do think our guys played pretty physical football. I talk about that Auburn game. It didn’t turn out like we wanted to, but my hat was off to everybody. That was physical football out there. I thought it was every bit as physical as Utah, it was just maybe more where everybody could see it.”

(On Utah WR Britain Covey, have you ever been in a game where it made sense to take his helmet away because he had taken so many big hits?) “I didn’t realize so many were on him. That guy is a tough player. I had a lot of respect going in the game and I’ve got more even coming out. And not only how tough he is but how he plays. He’s fearless back there as a punt returner. Ball bounces around, hits his own guy and picks it up like it was planned…he just plays football the way it was meant to be played. I didn’t really realize so much of that was him getting hit but it didn’t slow him down.”

(on Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry) “He’s impressive. Big and strong and tough and I think he has really deceptive speed too because he’s such a big guy you don’t think he’s going to run like that but then he’ll break the tackle and outrun everybody. I think he’s as good as advertised.”

(on ASU in Herm Edwards’ first season) “On defense, much different. That’s that San Diego State, Rocky Long style and we’ve gone against that in the past and it’s really good and it’s a good defense. And they’ve got them playing hard over there. On offense they’ve stayed relatively similar. It is different but it is similar in terms of playing to the quarterback (Manny) Wilkins’ style, RPO game. He’s really good. I’ve thought he’s been one of the more underrated quarterbacks in our league for a while now. He’s very athletic and can run but he is calm in the pocket and he’s not going to get out of there until he needs to. Really good receiving corps around him and he lets those guys make plays. Our defense is going to have quite a challenge this week. This quarterback, he’s one of the better ones in our conference.”


(on offense stalling at end of first half vs. Utah) “Well, those are always frustrating. We’ve done that a couple of times when we get down there and you’re going backward. I can’t remember exactly what happened, a penalty and then we had a grounding. That’s kind of what I talked about the other day of trying to help Jake out and give him something like throw the ball away and if we’re not he’s got to take the sack. And that’s painful there because that knocks us out of field goal range.”

(on redshirt freshman RG Jaxson Kirkland) “I think he’s getting better every game. He’s played three games of college football. He’s a fun guy to watch because you can see him getting better each week and learning, and every week really is different, not only the guy you’re playing against but these styles have been so much different. Like a completely different style, it’s encouraging to watch him progress and it will really be encouraging way down the road when he’s seen more things.”

(Versatility and rotations on the D-line) “That’s the key to anything is to have depth, is to be able to play multiple guys. You like that. I like it on the offensive line. We palyed some more guys and I’ve been saying that forever. I don’t think the offensive line coaches like it as much because they like that continuity. But I like getting a lot of guys in the game. I think it helps morale, it helps practice, it helps competition, so we’ve done that on defense and you have to. Those big guys can only play so may plays and you’ve got to continue to build depth.”

(What did you think of Henry Roberts and Henry Bainivalu on Saturday?) “It was really good to get those guys in there. I think Henry Roberts has taken a lot of snaps around here, a lot of practice reps, and I’m glad we got him in there and thought he did a nice job. He knows what he’s doing. I think he’s a guy that we can get in there and play more, I really do. Henry Bainivalu, first time getting really significant snaps against a Pac-12 opponent, and he’s got a big upside as well.”

(You’ve said the loss to Utah in 2015 still bothers Jake Browning — what about last year’s loss to ASU?) “I think from a coaching standpoint, I know that can happen every single week. That’s why I’m always worried. We were doing really good, and I think at the time, Arizona State was coming on a little bit, but we were a big favorite and all that, and we go down there and just don’t do anything on offense. We had a touchdown called back, all those type of things. So you hit a couple big plays, the mindset, mentality, everything changes. You get those taken away, and the momentum of the game completely changes. I’ve been in so many games like that, I can’t even tell you. So that’s why we’re always — it doesn’t matter on the opponent. You know how these games can go. They can turn out much differently if you don’t get a couple breaks here and there. but that’s what I think about playing in our conference. I say it week in and week out. I know for a fact, anybody can beat anybody. It just depends who shows up and makes some plays and gets some momentum going and it goes from there.”

(Do you reference last year’s game at all?) “I think it’s completely different. That’s the mindset every week. It’s not about referencing a game … it’s just like, you’ve got to play. You’ve got to play your best or you’re going to get beat. I just really believe that.”

(Have you been in a game before where the other team starts three drives inside the 30-yard line in the fourth quarter and doesn’t score?) “Yes. I’ve been a part of it all. I’ve won 7-6 when our defense scored the touchdown, and we’ve scored 69-67 and won. … I’ve seen it all, and that’s the beauty of this game. You just don’t know. I thought it was a little surprising when the d-lineman was running down there and thought for sure he was going to walk in, and the ball slips out of his hands, and then our defense has to make a stand. So that part is new. I hadn’t seen that one before. But you’re not going to win and win big against anybody unless you play really, really high-level defense. That I know.”

(on Jake Browning needing to get rid of the ball or take a sack) “It needs to get in his makeup. It just does. He knows it. We’ve got to improve there, there’s no question. Like I said after the game, we need to help him. But there’s going to become times where we help him as much (as we can) and the game of football goes how it goes. Somebody misses a block, they bring a blitz … and he’s going to have to throw the ball away or he’s going to have to take a sack. It is what it is. But he’s made so many plays getting out of there. We scored a touchdown with him getting out of there and finding Ty Jones. And I don’t think we realize how many plays that kid has made with his feet. That’s part of his game. Now, do we need to clean up the other part? No question.”

(What’s your biggest concern with the punting game right now?) “Yeah, we got to kick the ball better. We got to kick it more accurate when Race is kicking. We got a definite strategy how we want it kicked. We got to get better at that. I thought he was kicking to a really challenging returner. He’s as good as I’ve seen, he really is, in a unique, different way. Like I said, he does some really good things but I think we can get better there. It would be nice to get Joel (Whitford) back sooner or later and have those two guys.”

(What are some of the hallmarks of that style that’s Danny Gonzales’ taken with him to Arizona State?) “Complete confusion and chaos for the offense. That’s what is. They’re hitting gaps and running through and blowing things up. It’s never the same. It’s a really unique, good system.”

(How much is incumbent on communication on the offensive line to try and figure out who’s coming?) “There’s a lot of that, for sure. Just cause they’re all over the place. The communication piece is big.”

(on emergence of redshirt freshman OLB Ariel Ngata) “Another young guy who’s getting better every game. And it is good to get him out there because he sees things that he doesn’t see in practice and the speed of the game and just different adjustments that you’ve got to make. He plays fast and he’s a physical player. Excited for his development as well.”

(on defensive lineman John Clark getting some reps after knee injury two years ago) “He had a tough injury, so it is good to have him back out there. Confident, full speed and getting in some game reps. I think he’s playing good.”

(Targeting calls vs. Utah …) “They were great calls. Great calls. … What, you didn’t think they were targeting?”

(They were. Just some fans think football’s gone too far to protect …) “OK, so is this like a softball question? I mean, you guys are talking about how physical we played and how physical this game is — and we had no targeting. That will never go away. I don’t know what they’re talking about. The rules are changing and the rules have changed for the better of the game, and it’s still going to be the toughest, most violent team sport I think there is. To me, that’s all positive. Is it hard on the guys with those last-minute adjustments where a back is cutting and a receiver is going down? It is hard on them. It’s really hard to have that ‘strike zone’ exactly where you want it. But I don’t know what you’re talking about. You trying to say football’s going soft? I mean, I’m not seeing that.

(on Browning popping up after taking targeting hit) “Jake Browning’s as tough as anybody in our locker room and has been since the day he arrived here. I think people don’t appreciate that. The shots that that guy has taken, (he) missed one game and a handful of practices his freshman year because he had a separated shoulder. Most guys would be out a month and he was out a week. He’s tough. He’s really impressive in terms of what he brings to our team.”

(What does it mean to the team to have the QB able to shake off an interception like he had vs. Utah?) “That’s got to be our mentality for the whole team. There’s going to be plays that don’t go our way. We just have to have a short memory. There’s nothing more impressive than (when) a quarterback is taking some shots and having a tough game and then comes back and answers when he need an answer. That’s hard to do. And I saw it a couple times this weekend watching college football a couple times on Saturday, and that’s when you really find out who guys are. Jake will keep playing. He’s not going to back down and I think our guys know that.”

(on wide receivers) We have more depth than we’ve had and we have some young guys who haven’t really played a bunch (or have) significant roles … and I think they have some skill to them. You can feel it, though, that we do have a good nucleus there. Those guys are playing and the step that they’ve taken, you can see that they have more to them. There’s some things we’ve really diagnosed on the film that if they can do these next things, they’re going to help our whole pass game out. Just some little technique things that we do work on that we’re not quite there, but we’re getting there.

(Any more definitive update on Trey Adams?) “No. He’s hanging in there.”