The Huskies are looking for their first win over UCLA in Los Angeles since 1995.
Washington coach Chris Petersen hosted his regular press conference Monday, during which he reviewed the Huskies’ victory over BYU and looked ahead to Saturday’s game at UCLA (4:30 p.m., Fox), which will mark his first game at the Rose Bowl stadium as a head coach and the Huskies’ first game there since 2013.
UCLA holds a 40-31-2 advantage in the all-time series, and the Huskies haven’t beaten the Bruins in Los Angeles since 1995.
Here’s everything Petersen had to say Monday:
(Opening) “It was awesome putting the tape on and watching the guys, how they executed. It was kind of like how we thought, played at a very high level in both phases for sure. I think the guys are improving. I really like how they are practicing during the week. It been showing up. I think the scout team has been doing a really nice job. We challenged our scout team last week just because BYU is such a hard offense to replicate and they did a great job. It showed up on Saturday of giving us a lot of great looks that were clean reps we got. So all that was really impressive to see and now we’re on to the Bruins.”
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(Did it surprise you that their secondary gave you cushion and kept things in front of you?) “Not at all. That’s their style. That’s why we had to run the ball. They play soft and they’re good at it and they keep things in front of ’em. So the couple shots we hit downfield was great to see because they make you earn those. It takes some really good pass protection to be able to wait and let those receivers push downfield. Jake hit a deep one, a crossing route to Andre that was really nice throwing it in there. There was a small window for throwing it that far downfield. That didn’t surprise us at all. They did what they thought they were going to do and our guys executed.”
(Did you see another step from the offensive line?) “For sure. After the game we were really pleased with how they ran the ball and then to give Jake a chance to set his feet in there and get a look at some things, it was very clean. He’s not going to have the numbers he has without the o-line doing some really good stuff.”
(on the relationship between Jake Browning and Bush Hamdan and calling plays …) “It’s not like Bush is just around here this year for the first time. There’s some pretty good history with those guys knowing each other. For the most part almost everything runs through the QB. If he’s not feeling something, it doesn’t matter if we are or Bush is, Jake has to feel like this is good stuff. And the time that Jake puts in around here, those guys are always in cahoots with the plan. Jake, he’s awesome about it because he’s seen a lot of football and we can throw a lot of things at him and he’s good with it. But then there will be certain things we can go either way with adding plays or not adding plays or calling plays, and we’ll check with him on the sideline. Hey, do you like this or do you like that? I think that’s smart coaching and Bush does a great job of that.”
(How has the offensive performance the last couple games been a reflection of that development between Bush and Jake?) “I think they have a great relationship and they have from the start. I don’t think it’s really improving and blossoming. I think we’re just figuring out who we are on offense and getting our identity, because every year is different. You lose a few guys and certainly you put a new play caller in there, and even though it’s subtle differences I think it takes some time to figure out what you’re really good at this year. That’s how it’s kind of been going.”
(on putting a running back back in the game after a fumble …) “That’s all Keith Bhonapha. I think he does a great job with those guys and I think after (Salvon) fumbled he had him come out probably just to take a deep breath. I think it’s important to put him back in there, which he did, which we all wanted him to do. Those guys work as hard as anybody around in terms of ball security, but sometimes defenders make really good plays, which the defender did. He caught him from behind, which doesn’t happen much with Salvon when he’s putting a move on. Just caught him sleeping. It’s a good lesson and build on it.”
(How would you describe your offensive identity through the first five games?) “Multiple. Balanced. That’s what I would hope.”
(Is that always the hope, regardless of personnel changes?) “Always. That’s where we want to be and I think we have been. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be like that every game but I think in general that’s what it is. We’ve got a really good tailback and a really good quarterback, so we like to run the ball and the quarterback to throw it. That’s how most people would like to be, and I kind of think that’s how we are right now.”
(Are four-year quarterbacks getting increasingly rarer?) “We had Kellen (Moore). We had a three-year player before that. I think they are, I think it’s rare. I don’t know if it’s more rare. It might be because some of those guys come in more prepared and maybe they are so good they leave early? I don’t know. But I think in general it’s rare to have a 4-year starting quarterback.”
(What advantage have you seen this year with Jake because of that?) “I think there’s tremendous advantage, especially when it’s a guy like Jake. Just the tone that he sets for our culture, let alone getting to the field. That will be a weird time when he’s not here, all the time that we’ve spent together and all the comfort that he gives us just knowing that he’s always going to do the right stuff and how hard he works and what he’s done for us.”
(on the scout team and how they prepare the starters …) “It comes from our coaches. They are looking at, they have to pick and choose what we really need to spend our time on. There’s a lot of football plays that show up on tape and sometimes they are just game-plan things, sometimes they are one-hit wonders, so you’re trying to sift through all the minutiae to get to who they are and what they do. So it starts there and then you put it on cards for the kids to see. There can be a lot of sophistication with the things that are going on, so just to draw it on a card and show it to them in the huddle is not going to be good enough. So you put them in a meeting and you show what it’s going to look like on tape. These meetings these kids have, they are really quick and really short. They really have to be locked in and focused and take tremendous ownership of how important this is. And then be able to block our good guys. It’s usually younger guys going up against the older guys. There’s a lot there, and we put a lot of pressure on those guys to really execute at a high level. It’s just not worth it if we don’t give them the look. I can get extremely frustrated out there if that look is not what it needs to be. The kids have done a great job.”
(on UCLA) I think they’re improving, is what I think. We all get how hard it is to be new, to be a new staff, putting your system and how you do everything. We know a lot of these guys at UCLA, not only the coaches but also the players that they have. You can see them improving. They’re playing a lot of young guys. Each week they’re getting a little bit better. Obviously, the respect we have for Chip and his staff. Those are smart guys. They’ll stick to their process and their script and those guys will continually get better.
(on UCLA’s system with Chip Kelly) “It’s hard to know right now because I think they are still building and putting that all together. I think there’s some NFL influence and those type of things but you certainly see the old days as well.”
(on playing at the Rose Bowl stadium — still an allure there?) “That’s a great question because it’s so long since any of us have been down there to play a game. I think it’s always great to go down to Southern California and play down there. So many of our kids are from there. Whether it’s the Rose Bowl, the Coliseum, that’s all good stuff. … I think it’s different. I think you like to play in storied venues and that is a place that, I think I’ve been there one time, maybe twice playing. I haven’t been down there a whole bunch. … Not as a head. Maybe only one time as an assistant. It’ll be good to go out there and be in there.”
(on players going home for games) “Probably the kids that are from there and their families and friends will be there, so that is different. It’s no different than us playing in Utah and some of those kids that we have in Utah and Ty Jones and company. I know it’s always an interesting thing for those guys to go home. We just have more of them from Southern California than elsewhere besides Washington.”
(on Chip Kelly’s offense, speed) I think we’ve seen a lot of that. I think Chip’s kind of evolved and adapted. I don’t think he’s as fast as he has been. It’s about tempo, picking and choosing your spots where you’re going to go fast. That seems to be the new thing in college football.
(on the recruits at BYU game and the influence of big crowd/home atmosphere) “I think all that’s great. Like I said, the last two weeks have been awesome, playing at home in front of crowds like that. I think it’s fun for everybody to be involved in venues like that. That’s what I think about college football. I think it’s different than even pro football when you have a packed stadium and half of it’s students and then you get the long-time season tickets holders. It’s just a unique blend. I know everybody really enjoys being there when it’s like there, including the recruits.”
(on Browning nearly setting a national record for completion percentage — did you realize he was that close?) “I said after the game, I had no idea he completed that many passes. And if we did, it wouldn’t change a darn thing, if that’s what you’re getting at. What are we going to do, call an easier pass for him to complete or something? We wouldn’t do that. Do we need to go through our stat philosophy around here again? I truly was not, not even kind of aware of that. And it wouldn’t change anything. You just play the game to try and score points.”
(on Chico McClatcher) “I’m amazed that Chico physically is where he is right now at this time just because of the two significant injuries he had last year. He’s a unique guy physically in terms of how strong is and how he’s recovered. Just because you’ve recovered physically doesn’t mean you’re totally up to game speed or in a groove and all those things. I think we’re still working through some that. But he’ll get there. The interesting thing about it is, we actually had a bonus year with him. We still got this very important year right now but before the redshirt rule came in with four games, it was like right at the cutoff for last year so that was a blessing if he was going to get hurt when he did to be able to get this year back and it isn’t his senior year. He’ll get there.”
(Physically?) “He’s 100. … He is (close) but I just think all that, the stuff that he’s been through, takes awhile to get going. Even if you’re 100 percent ready to go in the season, you’ve still got ups and downs. You got to power through those things. There’s good streaks and not so good streaks. He’ll get there.”
(on wanting a shutout vs. BYU) “I think everybody in that stadium was. Those are hard to come by and rare and it was just really good to see the kids competing that hard. We had a lot of the guys that haven’t played very much in there. I really liked that. I liked their mentality and how hard they were fighting. Took everything BYU had to get in that end zone. That was good to see.”
(on playing QB under center more … maybe trying to get ahead of the trend) “We’re not trying to get ahead of a trend. We just like being under center. And we’ve always said that. I think the run game’s a little bit different. We want to be under center with our quarterbacks. We don’t want to be one of these teams that’s just always in the shotgun. It might be better in some rationale to always be in the shotgun, just because of less reps under (center). It’s amazing how much work that can take to be under and the timing and the snaps and the different things — you think about the quarterback but it’s also the center and how his blocking. So there’s a lot to it. But we want that expanse. We think it’s important in terms of who we are.”
(on value of stretch runs with the fast running backs in the UW offense) “Yeah, that helps. A lot of the times they don’t get all the way outside, though. A lot of times it’s just stretching it and getting vertical. So much of that has to do with how the O-line blocks it. (The backs) have to read it correctly. But anytime you have speed in the backfield that always helps.”
(Three holding calls — all on stretch runs. Are those just difficult to block?) “I don’t think they were all on that. We had one or two on — well, one was on a receiver. We might have had one there (on a stretch). Sometimes receivers have to hold (blocks) longer if the ball is going to bounce out there. We’ve just got to clean up our technique. It’s nothing like, Wow, this is a problem. It’s just not using good technique.
(You’re playing on grass Saturday and you don’t have a grass practice field. Is that ever problematic?) “Not at all. Just go play.”
(Have you ever considered trying to find a grass field to use nearby?) “Too hard. Can’t do it. Not with school. There’s not much grass around here and we’d have to take hours to get that done. Not going to happen.”
(on UCLA true freshman QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson) “When you can run like he can, then there’s challenges. He does some nice things. He can spin it in there. And then if you do pressure, he can get out things. He really can. I know from their stand point, it’s just a matter of him getting more and more reps and getting him more comfortable with their system. … He does some impressive things and I think each game he’s getting better and better. I think we’ve got to keep mixing it up (on defense), like we do for any quarterback.”
(Do they treat him like a true dual threat …) “You know Chip’s style. That’s a little bit of his style anyway, running a little bit of that inside zone and zone read. But he’s a pocket passer. He’s not jittery looking to get out of there. He’s looking to get out of there if the whole thing collapses on him.”
(on Dissly’s injury with the Seahawks on Sunday — reach out to him?) “I have not. I thought about it last night, but I just wanted this to calm down. I know he’s probably got a thousand texts. It’s a tough game and you just count your blessings when you’re healthy. We talk to our guys about that all the time. It’s hard. You’re grinding through this and if you’re relatively even in this early part of the season, it’s a little bit of that attitude of gratitude. Because it can just change so fast on you.”
(Dissly’s injury was on grass — do you feel like the FieldTurf has eliminated some injuries?) “I think grass is better. I do. I just think it feels better because I’m old and when I stand on turf my back hurts and it doesn’t hurt when I’m on grass. So I know there’s something there, as simple as that is. But, you know, all the studies are out and I don’t think there’s anything that says grass prevents injuries more or less than the FieldTurf. It’s a little bit like the knee brace philosophy (for linemen). But it would be nice to alternate surfaces, I think.”
(on Greg Gaines) “He means a lot. And he has for a bunch of years for us. He’s another guy who’s played for us for a long time. He’s very good at what he does, obviously. But I think you see this big ol’ tank of a guy in the middle, but one of the things I think about Greg is how smart he is. He really is. He’s a sharp kid and he’s a smart football player. If he says anything to me or our coaches, my ears are always perked up. Because he knows what he’s talking about. Not only is he a really physical player, but he’s also a smart player to go with it. Those are the kinds of guys who make a lot of plays.”
(on Levi Onwuzurike’s first start) “Levi played very well. Levi’s got a lot of upside. He continues to flash and he just needs more reps in there and continue to play at that high level and he can do some really good stuff for us.”
(on playing on the road) “We’ve had some good experience on the road so far, but I’ll tell you that at the end of this month. Three of the four are on the road. We’ll talk then. We’ve just got a tough sled coming in terms of all those things. I think we’ve gained some good experience and I think they’ve done a good job, for the most part, on the road. But it’s always different.”