Huskies Insider Blog

Chris Petersen discusses penalties that nullified touchdowns, says Huskies ‘wore down a little bit’ late in loss to Utah

As is customary, Huskies coach Chris Petersen met with reporters for about 25 minutes on Monday to recap Washington’s loss to Utah and look ahead to Arizona State.

A couple quick notes:

--- Petersen said injured players Budda Baker (head), Trey Adams (leg) and Elijah Qualls (ankle) are all “not bad,” but it remains to be seen whether any or all of them will be able to play this week against ASU.

“Whether they go or not, we’ll see,” Petersen said. “We’re encouraged.”

--- Petersen didn’t seem to have too much of an issue with the penalties that negated a pair of UW touchdowns on Saturday. The offensive pass interference penalty against receiver Brayden Lenius on a pick play, Petersen said, was called because Lenius backed into the defender instead of simply finishing his route. Those kind of plays are a point of emphasis for officials, and “they are looking to call those things.” And Petersen said the holding penalty against right guard Coleman Shelton that nullified Myles Gaskin’s 24-yard touchdown run was “probably a good call.”

“I think the lineman is trying to finish a block, and when they get a chance to do that they’re always going to do that,” Sometimes you can twist guys and those type of things.”

Here’s everything else he said.

(Opening) “I think we were pretty accurate in our evaluation after the game. I think on offense, the turnovers - and really our red zone game, if you want to be specific - kind of hurt us in terms of not being to answer. The turnovers speak for themselves. We get two touchdowns and then go backwards once they get pulled off the board. That was real frustrating, not being able to answer. I thought we were making some progress there in the red zone, so that hurt. I think our defense did a pretty admirable job. I think the one critique that we had was just tackling better. I think that Booker and Travis Wilson are both good runners. We saw that certainly last year with Booker, but Travis Wilson - part of his game is making you miss and he’s a hard guy to tackle. Not only tackle, but being so tall and long you don’t think of those guys as being hard guys to tackle. We saw it on tape and it was hard for us on third downs, scrambled a couple times and the goal line. Pleased with how hard these guys play, really am. They are working their tail off and it’s frustrating to all, but they’ve really given great effort all year long. You can see some improvements.”

(How about you? Are you day to day? Going to brace your knee? (UW receiver Jaydon Mickens rolled into Petersen’s legs at the end of a play near the Huskies sideline on Saturday)) - “I know the plays, obviously. So when I think they are coming towards me, I’m like, I’m not standing here, there’s a chance the ball could come here. I don’t know why I didn’t move out, but sure enough - good thing Jaydon rolled half-speed into me or I probably wouldn’t be here today. I’m fine.”

(Did the stats guys give you a tackle?) “No. They didn’t. It was very pathetic. I don’t think I even laid on him.”

(When the team makes critical errors, how does the staff deal with them going forward?) “We put as a staff…we really try to put it on ourself. How do we tighten it up in practice? How do we coach ‘em better? Sometimes it can come down to some playing time, but certainly not into trying to discourage guys and those type of things. We understand turnovers are part of the game. But when they are too much, which it was…but we always go back to us. What do we need to do here. We talk during the week a ton about tackling, turnovers and special teams. That’s Day One message when you play your first game. We went back to that, just because so late in the season those things start to slide. We were on it; we just didn’t get it done on those three areas to be on point. So that’s a little frustrating. We thought we were on it and we didn’t coach ‘em good enough to tighten those areas up.”

(What’s the coaching point for Brayden Lenius on that pick play?) “You need to be very, very careful, because that’s a point of emphasis. They are looking to call those things. You just need to run your route and post up. You can’t be trying to back into guys and those type of things.”

(So it was just the slight edge backward into the defender that he needs to change?) “That’s correct.”

(What did you see on Myles Gaskin’s touchdown run when Coleman Shelton was called for holding?) “Yeah, it was probably a good call. Didn’t need to…I think the lineman is trying to finish a block and when they get a chance to do that they’re always going to do that. Sometimes you can twist guys and those type of things.”

(What are the mechanics between the staff and the Pac-12 offices in terms of getting feedback on plays?) “We submit any plays that we want them to give us feedback on. We try not to just submit things that were like to try and go in our favor. If we think our guys committed a penalty that wasn’t called…but they look at all the plays supposedly anyways. But there’s a handful of plays that we’ll always turn in and say, can you give us some? And they always respond to us.”

(Was there more plays submitted this week than in normal weeks?) “No. I think there’s just more that you guys saw. I don’t think there was more than we normally put in.”

(On the significance of getting to six wins and becoming bowl-eligible) “It’s always important to try and get an extra game, no question. I think that’s in the back of everybody’s mind. I think everybody gets that, but I think it’s just about us building some skill and taking care of some of the things that we’ve been discussing here. If we can do that, then that will work out. The regular season, there’s very few days left for this team to kind of be together when you really look at the days on the calendar. There’s very, very few. It’s going to go fast. Every day, every hour that we’re together matters. If we can do that, we’ll have a chance to play another game.”

(On how the team has responded to losses) “In general, really well. I mean I say that ‘really well,’ it’s almost a weird question because you don’t really want them to respond well. You know what I’m saying. I mean Sunday’s hard. We bring them in here. Everybody’s irritated. Everybody’s not good. I’m not good. I’m getting tired off talking to them about ‘hey, this is what we’ve got to do.’ I think they’re getting tired of hearing me. But I like these guys and they’ve responded every time. I think they get it. I think they hear us. It’s just hard. We play in this type of conference that everybody’s really good. I mean, the team we’re playing this week, you don’t pay attention to their record; that’s for sure. These guys can beat anybody in our league and they’ve had chances to beat everybody that they’ve played. Their style is really, really awkward and hard certainly on our offense against their defense. They do a lot. There are no breaks. You kind of just keep coming back and reloading. That’s what they’ve done and so we have to do it again.”

(On what’s challenging about Arizona State’s defense) “They just bring so much different pressure. They’re more aggressive than most. It can be third-and-15 and they’re going to bring everybody, where most everybody is going to say ‘go ahead and complete that little pass. We’re going to come tackle you.’ Their one of the leaders, if not the leaders, in negative plays. They’re one of the top four or five in the country in sacks. Really good against the run because not only are they bringing pressure, with pressure becomes line games and so they’re hard to block. We felt that last year in the game where we really couldn’t throw it because of the weather, that wind. That’s their style. That’s what they do.”

(On if it’s similar to Utah State’s defense) “I think they’re more aggressive. Certainly a different scheme for sure. They are into more pressure than Utah State I think.”

(On an update on Budda Baker, Trey Adams, or Elijah Qualls) “Yeah, all those guys, they’re not bad. Whether they go or not, we’ll see. We’re encouraged.”

(On where he thinks the team is compared to where he thought they would be before the season) “That’s a good question. I don’t really think like before the season, you know? I think we’re close. I think we’ve made some strides. I think our defense has played at a pretty winnable level all year and I think the last couple weeks we’ve made some strides on offense. I think that’s the one thing you always want to feel as a coach. Are we making progress? Are these guys playing as close to their potential as they can? I don’t know if we’re playing as close to our potential as we can because we’re inconsistent. At times you see those flashes and you go ‘OK, this is really pretty good football.’ But it’s inconsistent. Maybe that is the potential of this team because some of the guys we have right now. I think the encouraging thing is we feel like there’s growth there. We feel like certain guys are getting better. A little bit of an issue is a certain guy will get better on this play and this guy didn’t get better. Putting those two together can kind of hurt us. We have a month left of regular season football, really important month for us to continue to grow. If we can do that I think we’ll feel better about things. Our hat will really be off to these kids for continuing to persist through all this hardness, because, we talk to them all the time, a lot of guys can’t. They invest so much in this and we haven’t had the results that we wan. Really probably there are a lot of guys that haven’t ever worked this hard in their life. Now they are and it’s still at the end of the day not really what we want. Eventually people just start to back off. If we can stay strong for this next month and keep after it, that’s really all we can ask from these guys.”

(On the film-watching process for players on Sundays) “We usually start with our special teams, spend close to a half-hour watching all those. We break some of it into small groups so we can cover more ground in more detail. And then we go into offense-defense for approximately an hour, maybe a little bit less. Coaches, depending on the game, may (have players) watch the entire thing, or they may pull out selected clips of points of emphasis, good and bad, and then we go onto the field and we do some fundamental things, but we also do some correct and review stuff from the game.”

(On the defense wearing down on Utah’s final touchdown drive) “I thought it kind of showed up a little bit, that’s where you probably saw some of the tackling where they were really running it nine times in a row. Usually we can swell up and stop some guys. At that point I did feel like we were wore down a little bit. I don’t know if it was mentally, physically (or) a combination of both those things. Kind of felt that.”

(At what point does youth become a non-factor for you guys?) “We don’t even talk to our guys about this. You guys are the ones that – I mean, it is what it is. This is the team we have. And so we don’t ever talk about, that’s an excuse – that word doesn’t even come up in our meetings. It’s like, this is what we need to do. So along those lines, it’s about just getting better and how fast we can accelerate that curve is what we’re trying to do every single day. I’m tired of talking about it. We just need to execute better, perform better.”

(On game-planning and how much to give to a young team) “It’s not like we’re going to come up and invent a whole new scheme this time of year, so there’s some wrinkles that we’ll add in that we think they can handle that the coaches are pretty sharp about, not overloading them mentally. I think mentally, our guys are fairly on it, when we’re out there. that’s one of those things we pay close attention to. If we’re making a bunch of mental mistakes, that truly is on us as coaches. We’re not teaching them good enough, we’re giving them too much. And even slowing them down so they can’t react. They might get to their assignment but they’re just a day late and a dollar short, and so again, that’s a little bit more concerning. But they don’t make a ton of just assignment busts. It’s more of just a physical thing, a technique thing, a fundamental thing. There’s more of those things, which is what you’d probably expect when you’re playing some other pretty good guys.”

(Looked like receivers missed some blocks on the outside and dropped some passes?) “I agree with you. I’m not sure why the blocking wasn’t what it was supposed to be. We’ve kind of spent a little bit of time on that, put the tape on and I think we’re better than that. I think you’re going to always have a drop or two. You hate ‘em when they’re like, strike-point balls. Concentration things. That’s what it is.”

(On problems that led to five sacks against Utah) “I think it’s guys getting beat physical, for the most part. Trying to think, a couple of them – Utah’s got a pretty formidable front seven, and I don’t think there was too many times that Jake could have cut it loose, given him a chance to see some things or just get rid of it. Just tighten up the protection, and in a hurry, because Arizona State can even create more problems with this style.”

(On Browning’s scrambling ability) “I’d love to see it. I think that’s a really added bonus. And I think it’s part of the game. If you have a guy … I don’t know if there’s any guy in college football today, I know there’s a few out there, but just stand there and can’t run. And he’s really proved that he can be an effective scrambler. He gets right up the field and goes down. I think when he’s escaping outside the pocket, he keeps his eyes downfield. Now that’s not – he’s a pocket passer. But I think he’s grown in that area, and heck, I don’t even know if he knew he could scramble that well. I don’t think he had to do that in high school. So he’s done a great job, in terms of those things.”

(The Lindquist-Wildcat package doesn’t seem to be getting the results you would hope) “Yeah, and I don’t think that’s on Jeff. Really don’t. In terms of what we had going in the Utah game, I think he did what he was supposed to do. I think I mentioned this after the game, we really studied some of that short-yardage situation and they’re darn good in those short-yardage situations. So, hey, we’ll continue to analyze. We like to try get everybody involved somehow, some way and use his skills.”

(With freshmen at QB, RB and on the O-line, have you had to adjust your coaching, not trying to cram to much into them?) “You’re talking about game-plan wise and all that stuff? I think as coaches you’re always counting numbers, like ‘How many plays are going into the game plan?’ We’re very specific about that. Run downs; second-and-long; third-and-whatever; it’s all categorized and we know the numbers that go in there. We also pay attention to, ‘OK, this week, how many of these things are new?’ And when I mean new, that could be a gray area. Have we had this concept before? This formation before? This little tweak before? But we look at that all the time. So first and foremost, we need to not overload our guys and give them a chance to play fast. I think we’re at the point in the season where they’ve seen a lot of our adjustments and a lot of the concepts. We really haven’t been overly concerned about giving them too much mentally because we do pay close attention to it. But I don’t think we’ve gone into a game the last handful of games going, ‘Man, I wish we could this.’ I mean, I think we always say that no matter what team we’ve had, no matter how experienced. There’s always that point of like, ‘OK, is two or three days enough to be really good at this?’ Because who knows what look (the defense is) going to give you. That’s the thing to me that’s changed so much — defensive football. Seven years ago, the offenses used to just sit there and dial them up. You could get ‘em. Nowadays? They got smarter. They changed their stuff … and if somebody (beat) them on some stuff, they’re going to correct that problem and they’re not going to give you that same look. And if they do, they know how to fix things. So half the time, you’re trying to game-plan ‘em and dial ‘em up, and that’s not even the look you get. So you (if) you put something new (in that week), how many reps are you going to get on that new play? So it’s always about that. We count reps tremendously and how many times did we get that rep during the week, whether it’s new or not. So that’s a big part of what we do during the week.”

(On consideration put into playing to team’s strengths) “There’s enough plays out there — there’s so many good plays; that’s one of the problems coaches have: ‘Love that play! Oh, I’d like to get that one in too.’ So we look at it and say, ‘This guy’s going to be a key guy on this play and that may not be his strength.’ Whether it’s in the O-line or whatever. ‘Let’s not go that direction. We’ve got other things that will be better.’ So we do look at that. I know at times it looks like we don’t do any game-planning — (that) we don’t even study tape with how it looks out there (chuckles). But there’s a lot of long hours here trying to get this thing right.”

(The sign-stealing was a hot-button topic last week. Is that a concern for you as you prepare for ASU?) “We’ll pay close attention to it. I think we’re still kind of formulating our plan a little bit. It’s hard enough to (beat) them when you’re right, but when they know what you’re doing … it can be even more of an advantage for them.”

(Is that more common than maybe fans might realize) “I just think certain guys have done that and that’s part of there deal. Others don’t worry about it; think it’s not going to give them an advantage. They just want to get their guys lined up, so I think everybody’s a little bit different.”

(On ASU’s offense: Does it compare to someone you’ve played this season?) “Possibly Utah State. They’re a multiple-formation team. They have a really good run game; they’re a multiple team. You’ll see a lot of different things. They get back to what they do well in the run game, but it’s not just three things. There’s a handful of things they get back to; they’ll ‘formation’ it. And then they’ve got a good play-action game off of it. … Maybe a little bit of Boise as well in terms of some of those things.”