On the eve of Chris Petersen’s first fall camp with the Washington Huskies, the two-time national coach of the year didn’t have trouble admitting his team is starting a few paces behind the rest of the Pac-12.
“We’re behind. I’ve been saying that from the start,” said Petersen, who was hired by UW from Boise State last December, at a press conference Sunday. “We’re the only new staff in the Pac-12, and because we came in late we put our guys behind. So every day, every practice and every meeting, it’s just critical we’re all locked in.”
The on-the-field schemes Petersen and his staff will run aren’t expected to be terribly different from those of his predecessor, Steve Sarkisian, but he pointed out that even things seem similar will likely be executed differently this season. Learning that language will hinder the Huskies as they try to catch up to their competition.
“Everyone does things so differently, and I think you could ask the players, it just feels like something completely different and foreign even though the styles on offense and defense are similar,” he said. “We tried to incorporate as much as we can so they didn’t have to learn as much, but there’s just so many things that are different, from lifting weights to how our meetings go and everything. … I think it’s different to the kids, it’s different to everybody.”
One of the differences Petersen brings along with him is split practices early in camp, as veterans will practice in the morning while a more newcomers-heavy crop of players will go in the afternoon.
“The kids get singles, the coaches get double days. Coaches can’t stand it, except for me,” he said. “I like it because they get so much work. But we’re able to slow things down a little bit, teach better. … We never want to get away from being those great teachers.”
The hope is the extra reps will cut down on the learning process as the Huskies work to even up with the rest of the conference, which is something Petersen said he expects to last throughout the year.
“I think it will be a season-long process. I think we’ll work all the way through it. Maybe there is a spot in the season where we think, ‘Hey, these guys are starting to get it.’ There’s just different phases,” he said. “There’s a teaching phase, I call it. There’s a coaching phase, there’s a leading phase, and I think you’re back and forth through all these different phases.
“Very seldom do you get to that leading phase where you have that team, a mature team, and they get it and understand it and you’re just guiding them in the right direction a little bit. I’ve been there very few times, and when you are there it’s something special.”
Miles to play catch-up
The Huskies enter camp with four quarterbacks, and it will be a very intriguing competition considering the most experienced player, sophomore Cyler Miles, was suspended for the entirety of spring camp and will miss the season opener against Hawaii.
Sophomore Jeff Lindquist and redshirt freshman Troy Williams, who shared quarterback duties in the spring, will take reps in the veterans practices early this week, while Miles and freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels will be with the newcomers. Petersen explained the decision to have Miles with the new players came about because of how little he has been able to familiarize himself with the new offense.
“He’s behind. He’s done some things, as much as he can after spring ball, to get caught up. That’s a lot of meeting time, that’s a lot of practice time, that’s a lot of reps,” he said. “That’s such a detailed position, it’s going to take him a while to process that. It’s hard. He missed a lot.”
Petersen admitted that he’s not as familiar with Miles, a player he didn’t recruit while at Boise State, as the local media is.
“You know better than I do. You’ve seen him a lot more than I have,” he said. “I’m anxious to get him back in the mix and see what he can do. He’s like a freshman.”
Always known for being a quarterbacks coach, Petersen seemed anxious to have a starting signal-caller in place as soon as possible, but not to the point that he’ll rush a decision.
“I’d like to have our whole team set by now, in some ways, but I think the competition thing is good,” he said. “Certainly that quarterback situation, if there is one position you would like to have stabilized it would be that. … When we know, we’ll know.”
• Senior WR Kasen Williams, who had his 2013 season cut short with a broken leg, will be in action Monday, though a close eye will be kept on him. “We’re hoping he can go and roll,” Petersen said. “We’re also going to be smart with it. If his ankle gets sore, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to make sure we build him up.”
• Sophomore DE Marcus Farria was dismissed from the team last week due to a violation of team rules, Petersen said.