Oregon State ranks 127th out of 130 FBS teams in scoring defense. Chris Petersen says he doesn't pay attention to that.
No. 6 Washington (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) plays at Oregon State (1-3, 0-1) on Saturday night (5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). Oregon State ranks 127th out of 130 FBS teams in scoring defense, allowing 47.5 points per game.
To which UW coach Chris Petersen shrugs.
“I mean this with no disrespect, but we always say this: Stats are for losers,” Petersen said Thursday. “We don’t pay attention to the stats. We look at the film, we study what a team does good, what’s going to give us problems, how a team is playing at their best — and that’s what we pay our attention to.
“You can make stats work however you want. We talk about the turnover battle ad nauseum around here. But that’s still game by game: ‘Oh, we’re leading the country in turnovers.’ We did that a lot last year. We ended up being No. 1. (But) the games we lost we lost the turnover battle. So that’s why they are a slight indication of things, but we don’t get hung up on that.
“I think Oregon State plays really hard; I think that they’re well-coached. I know they’re frustrated, which is a problem for us.”
More from Petersen on Thursday:
(On how things change when school gets going) An hour earlier. We kind of move everything up an hour earlier, so they can get out of here and get to class. Everything is a little bit tighter. There is no time to take a leisurely shower or hang out on the practice field – for most guys. And so it does, it tightens up. There is a lot of other things that tighten up, and you start to feel this is a couple of weeks: Probably the first thing is sleep. If the guys don’t really get organized (with sleep), and stay on top of this, that is one of the key ingredients, in my opinion, of really being able to practice hard and stay fresh in this long season.
(Do you pay particular interest in the young guys as they adjust?) Well, it is in our blood. That is who we are, and what we talk about. I meet with our first- and our second-year players once a week. It has nothing to do with football. (We talk about) everything, and anything besides football – about being a great student and what the requirements are. We talk about drugs and alcohol. We talk about women. We talk about all the important things in life, in terms of how to operate. We talk about our culture and what we are all about in terms of what ‘Built for Life’ means, and all those types of things. We don’t just throw things on paper and say ‘This is it.’ We work very hard at it, like we work very hard on our plays.
(When do you start scaling back on practice time to keep guys fresh?) We don’t have it on the calendar of like ‘this date.’ It’s always a little bit of a feel with the analytics that we look at with our strength coaches that are charting high explosive plays, distance covered, how the game before went, how many reps a guy took. So it’s kind of all those things. But now is the time that we start looking closely at that – do we need to cut things back a little bit? That is why we work so hard in fall camp and really even early in the season of just getting as many of these banked reps, these over and over and over, so we can cut back as the season goes on, so those things are still in their muscle memory and they are ready to play.
(Do you like back-to-back road games to maintain edge?) You make the schedule work how you need to. That would the mentality that we’d take, it is like, ‘OK we can get into a little bit of a rhythm here, we’ve been on the road, we are going back on the road. We played in the rain, we are probably going to play in the rain again.’ Those are all good things. But you are always analyzing, ‘OK, how do we have to make this work for us.’ There are certain things you can’t make work – we have three teams that have byes in front of us. That is a big disadvantage to us. But it is what it is, and away we go.
(Is your ‘Built for Life’ mantra still evolving?) It is always evolving. If it didn’t always evolve, I’d be bored to tears with it. And if I’m not energized by it, there is no way the players are energized by it. And so, like anything in life, if you don’t bring passion to the table, the people you are talking to – they are not going to feel that. And so, it is important to evolve. As the world changes, as things come at us a certain way, I think (tails off) … that is one of the reasons I appreciate this job, appreciate being able to have this, in some ways, this captive audience. They might not sit there and listen if they didn’t have to, but I know over time that matters, I know that is makes an impact just from past experience and past history and being with our ex-players.
(What would you want fans to experience if they could listen to your ‘Built for Life’ presentation) I think this program is what we try and think of. It is just trying to be successful. It is semantics in terms of how we phrase things, but we tell them, ‘Don’t worry about winning, be a winner in everything you do.’ And it’s like, what does it take to be winner? It’s just how you operate. I mean, this football thing – I say it all the time, we are trying to recruit the best in the country that we think has the chance to be one of the better players in the country, and then really down the line, play in the NFL. But we also are realistic that’s going to be a handful of kids, at the end of the day. And so whether you go or not, that is just a short shelf life. Football is not a career. It’s not – not even kind of. And so, Ok what you are doing here in terms of your education and with us on the other side, and that is your life, that is your career. So how do we open kids’ eyes to that? I think that is one of the hardest things in life, is trying to figure out, ‘What do I want to do?’ There are a lot of adults still trying to figure out what do I really want to do. It is really difficult to do that. I’ve been running across so many kids like, ‘They are done with this’ – and it’s shocking. It is always shocking time, no matter what you are planning for when football is done. But shocking and no idea of anything else, that is a problem. … There is a lot of us like that.
(How do you attack replacing Chico McClatcher in your lineup?) “When you have a really good player it’s not like you plug in the next guy and away we go it’s the same. But I’ll say this: we use a lot of people. Part of the reason is is to plan for things like this. We can’t be holding the bag saying oh oh, now what? We have no offense. We’ve been preparing. Guys can do things that Chico can do. Maybe not exactly like him and maybe we go a different direction with certain type of packages and how many receivers we use – all those things. That’s what we like about our system, we use a lot of people. It’s multiple and do what we need to do to move forward.”
(Different quarterback this week (Darell Garretson) than last week (Jake Luton). Do you have enough tape on him?) “It’s always planning for their scheme, but he’s different, no question. The other guy is a big, tall pocket passer. This guy is very mobile. That’s going to be part of what they do, so it is different. These guys are also game-planners. You know that, so there’s going to be some things we haven’t seen and here we go. Kids have to be disciplined with their eyes.”
(How has Tristan Vizcaino bounced back this week?) “I think those guys…we always give our specialists a hard time because they are kind of over on the side and doing their thing, but they do work very hard. Sometimes our players, because they are smashing each other a lot of time — those guys are very focused, and they are very passionate and they are very prideful. Nothing’s changed. We’ve got to keep working, tweak a couple things. Those are long, good-looking field goals that just barely missed. He’s just got to correct that accuracy by a little bit and we’re good.”
(How much have the true freshmen that have played grown since fall camp?) “I think there’s a lot of growth. And there comes a point where they feel a lot more comfortable, depending on how many reps they get. I think it kind of goes back to being on the road back-to-back, I think it’ll be a good thing for those guys. Environment will probably be different – who knows how, but at least we’re on the road and that’s good rhythm for those guys.”
(Husky Nation travels well. How big is it to have strong away support and what does that do for the team?) “I think it’s inspiring. When you go on the road you’re not really counting on that. When you turn around or you hear something, that’s awesome. They’re here with us. So we love that and we hope we have a good crew down there.”
(Coach Kwiatkowski said he was curious to see how the defense would respond to a team that really pounds the ball. Do you agree?) “I always would agree with that. The one thing that we’re always passionate about is the run game on both sides. If you can run the ball it’s a long, hard day on a defense. If you can’t that makes things easier on us. (Oregon State) is probably the best at running the ball that we’ve seen. They’ve got some good running backs. (Ryan) Nall is fast, fast, fast. He’s in a style we haven’t seen yet. He bounces off things and he’s fast. So this will be a good test.”
(How do you balance using Myles Gaskin a lot to create rhythm, yet also being mindful of keeping him as fresh as possible throughout the season?) “I think it’s feel. We talk to Myles, he indicates. He’s smart. He’ll come out when he needs to come out. Keith Bhonapha, the running backs coach, does a great job keeping tabs on that. I’m not really worried about wearing him down, I think we’re really mindful of that. It’s probably more the other way of are we getting him enough touches to get him in a good rhythm?”
(You mentioned stats are for losers. So there’s no efficiency numbers, nothing you guys track in terms of analytics to help?) “I will say this: There’s certain things we definitely look at. But when I say we just look delve into those and latch onto and lock into those, I think they are deceiving in a lot of ways. The game just changes so much from week to week that you start feeling comfortable with one stat or uncomfortable — they are indicators of things, and that’s it. There’s so much data coming out, we have company after company trying to get our business to tell us, this is what (teams) do. We’re trying to look for some advantage and we keep going back to, it’s best to watch the tape and look at it ourselves. That seems to make the most sense. There is a role for them, but we make that statement because we don’t want anybody getting too hung up on that stuff.”