Huskies Insider Blog

Quoting Chris Petersen on the Apple Cup, Mike Leach, Darren Gardenhire and more

Here is all that Huskies coach Chris Petersen said today about Friday’s Apple Cup game at Washington State, WSU coach Mike Leach and the transfer of cornerback Darren Gardenhire (and more).

(Opening) “How we doin’? You guys are as worn out as I am on this stuff, it looks like. Trying to drum up energy for our last one? Come on! Let’s go! It’s Tuesday, it’s not Monday (on their schedule).

“Anyways, start with Arizona State. Really proud of our guys. It’s an awkward team, like we said. They do some really good things and have good skill and can create problems for you and we knew we were going to have to battle through and grind some things out to get that one done and that’s exactly what happened. Really proud of our defense, thought they played exceptionally well and kept us in it until our offense could get a little bit of rhythm going. And then we did what we needed to do.

“Get deep into the season and you see different things happen, like certain teams knock off other teams that maybe you didn’t quite predict, so that’s what you’re always battling against - to make sure you come out and play your best. I thought our guys prepared well, like they have for most of the year, and did what we needed to do.”

(What did you think of DJ Beavers’ game?) “I thought he played pretty good. Azeem’s a hard guy to lose but he’s played a bunch this year. I feel like that about a lot of our guys at this point. Some of our receivers have taken a lot of reps and you’ve got John Ross and Dante (Pettis) out there that seem to get the majority of the balls, but these other guys have been working a little bit more behind the scenes - Quinten Pounds and Andre Baccellia, certainly Aaron Fuller’s in there - those guys, they can do more than maybe they’ve shown out there for sure. D.J. falls into that mix and it was good to get him out there.”

(Was there anything you saw in the Arizona State game that made you feel that team was a good tune up for WSU?) “Washington State’s such a different, unique team in terms of what they do…defensively there might be a little similarity, but offensively they are so unique it’s hard to say for our defense that that was a good tune up because they are so different. But a good win at the end of the season against a team that can strike and can hurt you…we got some points in some unique, weird ways with the onside kick and they tried another one and great field position I think the next play we scored from a long ways out. Some it’s some of the stuff we’ve talked about all year long and worked on…it’s kind of like this press conference - here we go again - but okay. There is something do it. Here it goes, we’ve got to be prepared. Got to be ready to go, and they were and it was awesome to see Drew Sample, who hasn’t…when that whole thing is set up it’s not necessarily designed for him to get the ball but they kick it right to him, kind of a slow roller, and he does a great job. And the next one, Keishawn’s not necessarily in there to…but he’s got these unbelievable hands as a linebacker and they kick one to him. Not only does he field it great but he does something with it. And we practice those things and it’s nice in game 11 it shows up and they make something happen.”

(Can you reference last year’s Apple Cup at all when preparing for this year’s game?) “The scheme is certainly similar, extremely similar. They run the ball more effectively for sure. That was a much different game for those guys not having Luke in there. He’s an expert in that system. He runs it from top to bottom and he can throw with the best of them. So that’s different for sure.”

(Why is the Air Raid so tough to stop?) “I think it’s a heck of a system. Coach Leach trains them well in terms of, we’re going to run the ball into this look and we’re not into this, and if we’re doing this we’re going to throw a screen…he’s got them very dialed in. He’s taught them the game and that system. And then, you can put (Falk) into any system and he’s going to be an excellent quarterback. He’s big, tall, pocket passer that throws strikes.”

(Anything you can share on Darren Gardenhire?) “Darren is no longer on the team. Difference in philosophy is probably the best way to put it.”

(Was that a surprise?) “Yeah. Little bit.”

(Did that happen yesterday?) “I don’t want to get into the specifics…”

(His choice or your choice?) “That was his choice.”

(Was it after the game?) “No. Last couple days.”

(On John Ross’ overall performance this seasons) “Well I think the’s played spectacular. Just a guy that we’re extremely proud of. We’ve talked about this before in terms of how e’s come back from his injury. But not just that. Even if he didn’t have an injury, just the improvements that he’s made in his game. I said this a lot before the season. To me John (Ross) hadn’t played a whole bunch of receiver. He hadn’t had a chance to really work on his game and grind through it and really become a polished receiver. That’s what he’s done. I think there are a lot of guys that can run really fast and I think there are a few, very small handful, that can run really fast and be detailed in terms of how to run routes in and out of breaks, be able to control that. I’ve been around a lot of fast guys that cannot get in and out of breaks because they’re just so fast. They don’t have the hip strength to do that and they don’t know how to pace it and still look like they’re going fast and come in and out. He can do all those different things. Couple that with he’s caught the ball really well. You have a bunch of different components that he’s just, he’s really polished his game up and he’s done a tremendous job.”

(On the pass rush Saturday) “It was good. Certainly more pressure on the passer. Against a scrambling quarterback that can be hard. So it was nice. That was probably the number one thing that jumped out, was just the pressure that we were able to get on him. I think it’s going to be a tougher chore this week. That’s what they do. They pass protect, pass protect. Luke (Falk) is really good in that picket just hanging in there. He’s tall, can throw over those guys. He gets it out. He has a great sense of when the ball should come out and when he can hang onto it.”

(Where does Kevin King’s interception rank for the best you’ve seen?) “It’s so interesting. Yeah, that’s up there in terms of spectacular plays without question.. But he catches the ball. I see those guys messing around catching the ball like that all the time. It’s really not something that he hasn’t worked on. I don’t think I’ve seen him catch one like that in practice defending a fade, but they’re always throwing the ball and reaching back and doing that. He’s so long and he’s got good hands. It was awesome to see him put it out in a game. It wasn’t one of those things where it’s like ‘oh, I’ve never seen him do that.’”

(Did you ever consider incorporating the air raid offense while at Boise?) “We do. I think everybody has some elements of what they do in the pass game. The routes that they put out there aren’t unique to just them. I think it’s how the whole system fits together. How he teaches it, how they game plan in terms of - I think they’ve ben doing the same stuff for a long time but there’s enough there depending on coverage and route adjustments and all those type of things. He’s just unique in his approach of his system, of what works for those guys. Everybody has elements of some two-point stance and some wide splits, but it’s just kind of how he puts it all together that makes it unique. It is his system that he is trimmed and streamlined and they have it completely dialed. How he believes you score points and move the ball, and for his system he’s right.”

(On receivers adjusting and reading routes coming out of breaks) “Yeah, I think that’s a good and a big part of it along with probably how he trains the quarterback to get into eh right play and get out of it. There’s a lot of checking going on depending on numbers and coverage and those type of things. He’s got his way that’s really good.”

(What makes Gabe Marks so hard to cover?) “It’s always hard to explain those guys. He’s fast. He can get in and out of breaks. He’s a playmaker on the ball. He’s been in this system now for a while and so he’s an expert in that system and the combination of all those things make him a tough guy to defend.”

(Has their offense become the most difficult to prepare for?) “Yeah, it always is. It’s so different. I think probably even simulating in practice is not the same thing, which is kind of unique because you think ‘hey, four wide and they’re throwing it and spreading out the field.’ They operate with so much precision that that’s really what makes the difference.”

(How well do you know Mike Leach?) “Yeah. He’s entertaining. There’s no doubt about it. I really like being around him because half the time I don’t have a clue what he’s talking about and the other half I think is really funny. He’s an entertaining guy. There’s no question about that.”

(On the video where he says he would take Mike Leach on a road trip with him) “Well, we’re having a road trip. You have to have some fun, right? Half the time it’s good because you probably just get tired of people if you’re on a road trip. But like I said half the time I don’t even know what he’s talking about so I wouldn’t listen to him and the other half is really good stuff.”

(Have you talked to Mike Leach at coaches meetings and stuff?) “Yeah, usually the coaches meetings and those type of things. So over the years I’ve gotten the chance to know him. You guys no better than I, or the people that interview him every week. He’s got a great perspective on things.”

(Is subversive a fair descritpion of Mike Leach?) “I don’t know. I don’t want to study him too much. It might be scary if you study him too much. I just think he’s such a unique perspective on so many things. On football, on life. It’s awesome. It’s cool for the game to not have to sit up here and listen to guys like me that are probably all so similar talking about the next thing to take care, the next part of business. You can tell he really wants to talk about a lot of stuff, the last thing maybe is football. That’s fun for a lot of people.”

(On Leach’s comments last year about WSU beating better teams than UW) “Maybe they did. I don’t know. We just kind of move on. This is this year and a new challenge.”

(On Jake Browning’s performance against ASU) “I thought he made some nice throws. There was one or two that he and the receiver may be off a little bit on, route-rise, on exactly what’s going to happen, but Arizona State can make you like that a little bit with some of the blitzes. There’s a lot going on up there with protection, and is he going to be protected, does he have to get rid of the ball. And then when it is protected, how long is he going to be able to hang onto it as a route’s developing. So I thought he played solid.”

(On winning 10 games for the first time since 2000) “We really have not thought about it, to tell you the truth, we have a lot of important football left and that’s what our focus is. I think we pay attention to all that stuff afterward. I think it’s good because it feels like we’re making progress. We’ve kind of felt like that for a while, but it’s nice – like I said last year, I felt like we were making progress last year and we really weren’t coming up with as many wins as we would have liked to, and that was really hard on everybody and the kids. So they just haven’t really backed off or changed from their demeanor from last year. Obviously, that work is starting to pile up and make a difference, and they can feel it, because there’s not many things that these guys have worked harder in their life at than this, this commitment to this program, and it’s really hard to work that long and not see improvement, so I think that’s probably the most important thing, is I feel like we’ve improved as a group.”

(On his thoughts on the WSU vs. Colorado game) “They (Colorado) play good defense. You start looking at the stats this time of year, and I think it does paint a picture. Colorado plays really good defense and they play hard. I thought just in general, watching both teams, these are two good teams that are playing really, really hard. This is a good football game, whether it’s special teams, offense, defense. I think Colorado got behind a little bit and they just kind of kept battling. It was impressive on both sides, it really was. And then Colorado made a play or two more in the fourth quarter. But on offense, obviously Colorado did a good job with those quarterback runs to grind it out. That quarterback carried it a lot and took a lot of shots. Colorado is a tough team.”

(Would you rather play this game on a Saturday?) “Yeah, probably. I think all coaches probably would, just to get that extra prep time, let your guys rest up a little bit more. If you had your druthers, that. And part of it, too, you want to go play, and so it’s one day shorter. But we’re out there today. Usually this is the day off, and you’ve got to get work in. It’s got to be good, quality work, and that’s hard this time of year.”

(What is the plan for Thanksgiving?) “We’ll kind of do our little stuff that we normally do in the morning here, practice wise, then we’ll come up and have a Thanksgiving lunch, late lunch, and then head over to Pullman.”

(Memories from 2014 Apple Cup in Pullman?) “Cold. That’s what I remember. And I’ve been in a lot of cold games, and that one felt as cold as I could ever remember. I was proud of our guys to go over there and play in that cold. I thought they played hard and I didn’t really think it affected them. But it affected me. I had every bit of clothing I could possibly get. I was like the Michelin Man walking around. If somebody was going to run into me on the sideline, there was no way I was going to be able to get out of the way. That was part of the risk I was willing to take.”

(How do you handle the fact that this game is winner-to-the-Pac-12-title-game?) “That’s a really good question. It’s just like … these kids have been all in on like every game, so to say, OK, this one’s like … I don’t know. I just want them to prepare like they have and go over and compete like they have, which I know they will. We know it’s like all this hard work kind of comes down to this. But it’s really hard for me to say, like, ‘OK, now we’re really all-in on this.’ I just think they’ve really been invested this whole year, every game, and I think that’s what you’ve kind of seen. But it’ll be exciting. They get the rivalry. They get that we’re playing a heck of a team in a really hostile situation. I think this is different than most places going.”

(On the team being undefeated on the road this season) “They’ve obviously done a very nice job. The way we travel – I think the way everybody travels – is kind of nice. You’re just in and out so fast, we get there, we’re kind of in a routine, and then you’ve just got to be able to handle crowd noise and momentum swings and all that stuff goes against you, and you’ve got to stay strong and just keep executing. It sounds easy, can be tougher to do, but the kids have done a good job with it, obviously.”

(On Chico McClatcher getting back to full speed) “He’s such a tough guy. He got slowed down there for a couple games but still kept battling through it. I think he’s getting back and he’s such a unique guy for us, a unique weapon because of the versatility. He makes it nice when you game plan.”

(On Azeem Victor and Jojo Mathis maybe traveling with the team?) “Well, it depends. We can only take so many guys. Those guys are healing up, is what they’re doing. We saw Azeem around here on Saturday for the first time. … He’s still in a long of pain getting through that surgery. So he’s probably got a handful of more days of getting over the hump of that initial trauma to surgery and all those things. And Joe’s the same way — he had a procedure on both feet. So they’re hobbled up right now. I know they’re with us in spirit; it would be nice if they were with us in body, but it is what it is. Those guys bring great passion to this program.”

(So they definitely won’t travel?) “I don’t think so.”

(You plan to bring in ex-players to talk to the team this week?) “Oh, I love our ex-players. I get educated on the history of this program and what goes on. So we’ll see.”

(What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from former players about the Apple Cup?) “I think sometimes from the outside you can sometimes underestimate the intensity of the rivalry and how important it is to so many people. That always gets put back in perspective pretty quick.”

(With where these two programs are, do you think the Apple Cup could be this meaningful year after year?) “It’d be nice. It’d be nice because it would mean we’re playing at a high level and doing what we need to do, and obviously Coach Leach has his way to get it done and win. So I think it would be good, yeah.”

(On UW’s run game bouncing back vs. ASU) “I thought there was some improvement. It’s hard to compare (to USC) because the styles (of defense) are so different. And, again, some of it did not look good because they (ASU) can blow some things up. But I wills ay this: Washington State is very good at that (run defense) as well; they are a penetrating defense, a movement defense. They’re the No. 1 run defense in the conference, No. 1 in tackles for loss. So there’s some similarities there, and those guys are hard to go against. There’s a lot of respect for that whole program, but they play hard. So sometimes they can make you look really bad. But I do think that our guys did a good job on the offense line and Myles was making some things happen.”

(How fired up do you personally get going into a road game with 35,000 people rooting against you?) “I think it’s great for college football. I always come back to this — that’s why these kids came here. That’s the beauty of college football. Whether it’s in our stadium and that great environment and all that positive energy, or if you’ve got to go on the road just to feel that energy the other way. I’ve been in a lot of (quiet) stadiums on the road where it’s like, ‘OK, boys, let’s go. We’ve got to crack this thing up. There’s not a bunch of energy in the stadium.’ That’s not nearly as fun as going into an environment where everybody’s passionate. That’s the way it should be.”

(On the recruiting trail, cross paths with WSU a lot?) “I certainly know most of the guys they’re recruiting, and I’m sure vice versa. But our styles are so different that I’m sure that might have something to do with it too. Certainly, being in the same state and some kids they’re recruiting in state we probably are too.”

(More now than when you first got here?) “Maybe somewhat. But, again, I go back to — they have their recruiting (model). They do a really good job recruiting to (that). I think everybody has to know exactly what they want in recruiting. It’s one thing to take a good player if he doesn’t fit you for whatever reason, and I think a lot of people don’t stick to their guys in terms of: ‘This is what we’re looking for.’ I know it’s really hard for us and for me. I can get enamored with a guy and it’s like, ‘Wait a minute: Are we even taking a guy at this position?’ You might not even be taking a guy that year. Or that’s just not really the style we’re looking for. … And I think the different areas of the state, I think that matters (with) what kids are looking for. We might like the same guy, but some kids are looking for more rural and some kids are looking for more metropolitan.”

(On O’Brien, Bartlett, Potoa’e guys filling in for Mathis) “Building skill, getting better, learning — all those things. If they keep bringing the intensity they have been — you see them getting a little bit better each game. Jojo’s played a lot of football for us at a high level for a few years now, so for those guys to step right in and be him is probably unrealistic. But I do see progress.”

(Still believe Jojo McIntosh could be back for Friday?) “We’re still hopeful.”

  Comments