Huskies notebook: Chris Petersen in unfamiliar territory

Oct 27, 2014, 4:51 PM | Updated: Oct 28, 2014, 2:07 pm
Troy Williams marks three quarterbacks to start for Washington in 2014, a first for coach Chris Pet...
Troy Williams marks three quarterbacks to start for Washington in 2014, a first for coach Chris Petersen. (AP)
(AP)
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There isn’t much losing in Chris Petersen’s past as a head coach, and that’s what makes this current Washington slide jump out.

After Saturday’s 24-10 loss to Arizona State, the Huskies fell to 5-3 overall and 1-3 in Pac-12 play. It was also their second straight loss, something Petersen has experienced only once before in his career, in the final two games of his second season as Boise State’s coach in 2007. Furthermore, Washington has now lost three of its last four, a low point that Petersen is entirely unaccustomed to.

“It’s hard. You lose one game, you lose two games, it’s hard,” Petersen said at his weekly press conference Monday. “I think that the important thing is to stay strong and stay positive and not let all the outside noise rattle any of our players.”

That’s easier said than done for the players, especially in today’s climate, and Petersen himself acknowledged as much.

“I don’t pay attention to anything on the social media. If I did, I’d probably quit right now. I hope our players can do the same, but I know that’s the world they live in,” he said. “When we started, I’d always been against some Twitter things and all those, because I tell our guys, ‘How are you going to let someone validate you?’ … And then, likewise, when you struggle a little bit, now all of a sudden you’re in the tank because everybody piles on.”

Twitter and other forms of media aren’t the Huskies’ biggest concern at the moment, though. That would be the offense, which started its third quarterback of the season in a touchdown-less performance against the Sun Devils.

“No, I’ve never had this situation ever,” Petersen said in regards to having to start three different quarterbacks.

Not that he thinks the burden lays on the shoulders of the signal-callers. In fact, he said much of the onus is on the players they’re trying to get the ball to.

“You’re always trying to make that guy (the quarterback) successful as possible. So what are we talking about there? I’m talking about the running game, I’m talking about how receivers help out,” Petersen said. “It’s such a hard, complicated position. So if everybody else is playing at a high level, that’s going to make his job a lot easier. And certainly we’re not there in the run game, receiver game. Nobody’s got it.”

Miles is ‘OK’

Sophomore quarterback Cyler Miles missed the ASU game with a concussion, and while he’s making progress in his recovery and is obviously the preferred starter, there was no definitive statement from Petersen on who will be the quarterback against Colorado.

“Cyler’s OK. He’s been OK since probably mid-week,” Petersen said. “A guy gets dinged and you don’t get him back the next day. If there’s any lingering effects it’s going to prolong things. We had him available and we had him going mid-week but just really didn’t have enough reps and wanted to be safe with him and all those things.”

The Huskies went with redshirt freshman Troy Williams against ASU, though sophomore Jeff Lindquist also saw limited action behind center.

Thompson’s versatility still in play

Though junior Shaq Thompson is primarily a linebacker – a star one at that – he was almost exclusively a running back against ASU, rushing for a team-high 98 yards. The move was necessitated by injuries to running backs Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington, who both sat out the game.

Using Thompson so much on offense didn’t seem to have too much of a negative effect on the defense, and Petersen said the coaching staff will continue to decide on a weekly basis where Thompson can best be used.

“We’re still working through that. Shaq did a heck of a job. My hat’s off to that guy,” Petersen said. “Wherever we need to play him, he’ll go there. I was talking with him about it today and he’s like, ‘Just tell me where I need to go.’ And I think he really means it.”

As for any second thoughts on using him on defense when the game was tied 10-all late against ASU, Petersen said they really weren’t any.

“Keishawn Bierria, he’s a good player,” Petersen said, referring to Thompson’s replacement at linebacker. “We have some good linebackers, and obviously Shaq is equally as good. We’re just trying to maximize our talent and figure out the best way to do that. Shaq factors into all these talks – the secondary, linebacker, at running back, and how do we best help the team.”

Notes

• OL Dexter Charles, who missed the ASU game, is week-to-week with a foot injury, Petersen said.

• RBs Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington are both improving from injuries, and Petersen said Coleman could have played last week but didn’t because of how many carries the game plan called for from Thompson.

• S Trevor Walker was seeing a doctor Monday after leaving the ASU game with a leg injury. Walker was on crutches on the sideline in the second half.

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Huskies notebook: Chris Petersen in unfamiliar territory