Everything Washington's Kalen DeBoer said at his Arizona State press conference
Washington will look to bounce back from its first loss of the season last Saturday when it hits the road again this week to battle Arizona State in the desert. Coach Kalen DeBoer met with reporters on Monday to break down the UCLA game and discuss a myriad of other topics.
Here’s everything he said, with video of the full press conference below. (DeBoer’s section begins around the 31:00 mark. Defensive coordinator William Inge and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb have the dais before that.)
“Before we talk UW football, I just want to first say a couple things. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Rick Redman, with his passing, through this difficult time. We’re thinking about you. He was more than just an All-American, did so much for this university. He was a contributor in so many ways. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Rick.
“And the second thing is I just want to say congrats to the Mariners. The positive vibes being in the city, it’s really fun to see. They’ve done a great job getting to this point, battling and fighting and building. It’s part of being part of this community. It’s cool to see, and we’re trying to do the same. We’re trying to add to those positive vibes in the athletic community, and we wish them the best here going forward in the playoffs.
“As far as the game, the biggest thing is just in the second quarter we dug ourselves a hole. There are some things in that second quarter that we also did to where it could have been worse. Big stop there with 30 seconds to go in the second quarter, when they go for it. You can see they’re really trying to put the nail into the coffin going into that half. Our defense stepped up. We’ve been actually really good in short-yardage situations. Fourth down, we’ve actually been not bad at all, but on third down, it’s been more of a thing, even in the longer downs where you expect to get off the field at a higher rate. I think a lot of it revolves around penalties from a team aspect. I think we can do a better job communicating defensively and that would have helped us out in a few areas.
“They’re all growth moments, wins or losses. It’s definitely a growth moment. I don’t want to say I didn’t have an idea. I felt I knew what our response would be, whether it be at halftime or what it would be coming back yesterday. The character of our team will be revealed. I think a lot has already been shown to me of what that character is all about. I was proud of the guys, the way they fought to the very end, the belief. I felt there was ownership after the game, but also during the game. … When the right attitude and effort continues to come forward we can be better because of it. That’s a lot of the message we had yesterday.
“Yesterday was a good practice to get back on the field. They need that. We need to put that game behind us, learn from it and move on, flush it, accept it, own it, and go 1-0. Tomorrow will be a really big day. I know even in our Thursday night meeting, we talked a lot about our response to adversity. That’s what we talk about a lot. I just think we’ve been so good in that area and this will be another test to see what our response is.”
On coaches being fired in-season and if there’s concern in the profession about the timing of firings now
“I don’t know which way… where I stand. I understand why there’s reasons for universities to go this route and try to get the next person in place. A lot of it revolves around recruiting and all of that. But it’s hard on the student-athletes, there’s no question. It’s hard on them. They go through a lot. No matter when that change happens.
“These different universities are going through things where their student-athletes are having to continue to push forward. I guess with Arizona State, there seems to be a lot of positive vibes still within the team. They’re playing hard. That can go both ways I guess. It’s a clean slate for a lot of these guys and I think that’s what many of these interim coaches do, is wipe the slate clean. I think that might be a little bit of the situation here. They’re playing hard and they’re pushing teams like this last week to the fourth quarter. They’ve got good players. We’ve got to make sure we’re on our best and our ‘A’ game, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be based on taking a loss this past weekend.”
On Grady Gross’ tripping penalty that saved a touchdown
“It happened really fast. And at first I was like, ‘Really? We needed to do that?’ But then watching the film, we really needed to do that. Everyone gets in that spot and there’s a different reaction and probably with his background and what he’s done in the game of soccer or whatever it might be, that’s the instinct. You take guys through tackling drills and try to show them how it’s supposed to be done. But when it’s happening that fast and all of a sudden there’s a man not necessarily right in front of you, but someone you have to get down, that was his instinct. Obviously, it’s not the right one. It’s a penalty. But we needed to get the guy down somehow.
“We’ll continue to teach the tackling. We did not condone that that was a good move on his end. But we have to do a better job of making sure it doesn’t get to him at that point and continue to show him. He’ll learn from it. It’s the first time he’s probably ever been in that spot.”
On Wayne Taulapapa’s fumble and the play-call in that situation
“It never even crossed my mind, honestly, after that happened, that that was a risky move. We would really have done a lot of risky things already this season, I guess, if we were considering that something that is putting us at a big risk. We’ve done things where we’ve been on our own 1, the way we’ve thrown the ball, and so forth. There’s probably more risk to that. Is a shotgun snap or under center more risky? The exchange, when it’s happening that fast, what is more risky? We run a lot of zone reads back there. When you’re in gun, almost every play has some type of read element. There was no read. There’s no indecisive, ‘What should we do?’ We’re just literally tossing it and we have to execute the toss.”
On Michael Penix Jr.’s ability to throw into tight windows and protecting against putting the ball in danger
“We sit here and we put our stamp of approval on how he throws guys open, how he anticipates, and how guys are barely out of their breaks and the ball’s out. Once in a while — on the one, the defender’s literally spinning in the ground as the release is happening. Mike’s anticipation, that’s what he’s trying to do. That’s what’s made him so successful. He learns from it. It’s not been a common thing for him as we’ve seen through five games to turn the ball over. So, learn from it. He was into his progression a little bit. He just needed to continue on and not force it that time. Especially knowing kind of where we’re at in the game and the momentum. I think especially when he had thrown the second one — being a little more careful with that throw in particular.”
On whether he thinks Jaxson Kirkland at guard and Troy Fautanu at tackle is the right move
“I think so. I really do. I think Jaxson’s just so powerful and strong inside. It’s a major strength for him. Not only can he move people, but he keeps the pocket further ahead of the quarterback, further ahead of Mike. We have the luxury of having a guy like Troy to be able to play outside. Not slating Jaxson into a spot because I think he can play tackle and guard at the next level, but he’s just so powerful, so strong. That might be a spot he ends up working to down the road anyway just because he’s so good at it.”
On takeaways from offense and defense
“Offense, the penalties. Really. You convert a third-and-short and you get the holding call. It just takes you out of rhythm. The two turnovers versus not getting any turnovers. When you’re talking about an eight-point difference — those turnovers and we lost the explosive battle by just a couple. That hasn’t happened up to this point.
“I think defensively there’s things we can continue to coach and stress. We’ve done a really good job in our communication. That’s so important on the defensive side. I don’t know if we quite communicated at that level the other night. So, mixing and matching different guys, I don’t know if that leads to it. There are some guys that do a great job. It just needs to be all 11 that are on the football field communicating and reaffirming that, ‘This is my job.’ It leads to confidence. It’s not like we had really a lot of blown assignments or anything. A team that communicates is usually a confident team. And you’re just triggering a little bit faster and you’re playing a little bit faster when you know, ‘Hey this guy’s got me here, this guy’s got leverage or help in this area, this is my job’. That’s where we’re going to continue to emphasize. (They’re) things we’ve emphasized all year long, just gotta do a better job.”
On Mishael Powell and Asa Turner’s status
“(Powell) will not be back this week. There is a chance that Asa could definitely be back. Almost put him on the depth chart. Kept it the same because we’ve played with that rotation for the most part. Asa is doing more, not necessarily practice last week. Especially since it was a short week we needed to get guys the reps they needed who were going to be on the field. But he’s doing more and more activity. So, with a normal week, there’s a chance he could be playing on Saturday.”