JAKE BROWNING: … obviously that was big just as far as I don’t think we get into this game if we lose that. So I think there’s always going to be at least one or two games a year where there’s just going to be, on paper, we should have won by a lot. But it’s kind of the Pac-12 plays out a lot, too; you never know who is going to be the team that gives you a fight.
And I think if you’re on paper, you’re saying Wazzu is going to be the closer game, but you show up and all of a sudden Utah made some big plays and is playing well on defense and you just gotta keep battling. Can’t ever get yourself in a hole or think, all right, we’re going to lose now. Just gotta keep battling and hopefully the chips fall where they may.
Q. How difficult has it been for you because of the injuries at receiver to deal with that this season?
JAKE BROWNING: We haven’t really had, other than Dante, it’s been shuffling in and out. But they’ve done a good job adjusting on the fly and being able to pick up more responsibility as people start getting hurt.
And I think one of the things I like about our program is we don’t really talk about injuries a lot. We’ll go play some teams and all we hear about injuries. I don’t think anybody talks about that with us. It’s just next man up. Obviously feel bad for people who are injured, but you don’t win games by feeling bad for people. Just get ready to go, next man up.
Q. Coach Petersen told us last week (inaudible). How excited are you to get out there again and (inaudible)?
JAKE BROWNING: Yeah, Hunter is a special play. We all saw it throughout the season. And especially just him being able to get these bowl practices in is big. And he definitely adds another element to our offense. He’s a big part of it.
Q. Gaskin, your relationship, is that pretty organic early on? You remember first meeting him or is that even in recruiting?
JAKE BROWNING: Yeah, I didn’t host — I got here early before Myles. So I was hosting, I forget who, maybe Andre Baccellia or somebody like that. And Myles was there, too, so I met him, then. And we got along ever since, not necessarily the same person, but similar personalities, want to win some games and work hard doing it. And I have zero problems with people that are willing to work hard and want to win games that aren’t interested in being celebrities.
Q. Penn State, when you look at the defense what do you see?
JAKE BROWNING: You see a lot of different looks. Very well disciplined. Some of those teams that you see bring a lot of different pressures. They’ll mess it up on the back end, and very rarely see that with them. And very physical obviously playing in the Big Ten and very talented. Only giving up 15 points a game, so I think that speaks to their success more than anything, I gotta say.
Q. Look at individuals on defense or pretty much look at the unit —
JAKE BROWNING: I’ll look at the DBs a little bit more. Just I’m not really going against the linebackers as much, as far as personnel. Really like the safety. Comes down, plays physical. I think both corners have played a lot of football and other safety has played a lot of football.
I think a lot of experience. That’s why they’ve been able to keep up with a lot of different pressures they bring.
Q. Pettis, his ability, all-around abilities, not just receiving but punt returns, what does he mean to this program?
JAKE BROWNING: Very explosive player for us, our best receiver. And he’s able to do a lot of different things for us. He’s thrown the ball a few times. He’s caught it. Sweeps, reverses. Just trying to get the ball in his hands.
Q. Penn State, they had two tough losses back to back weeks, maybe two or three plays, they’d be playing in the final four. Same with you, maybe if you beat Arizona State. How do you look at this matchup; when you got the word it was going to be down here in Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl, taking out Penn State, what did it mean to you?
JAKE BROWNING: Penn State has been a team, and program that’s been good for a lot of years and has a lot of national respect. And I don’t think we necessarily have that as far as being a little bit newer to the teams that are playing these Big Ten bowl games. And so to be able to match up against them and against the team from the Big Ten is pretty cool for us.
Q. … pretty productive as you guys have been but also (inaudible) wanting to put pressure together; what’s that relationship been like and personality-wise pretty similar? (Inaudible)?
MYLES GASKIN: No, Jake’s the head man when we’re out there. So everybody listens to him. I love Jake. That dude, like I said, he loves to compete and he looks like a regular dude. He doesn’t — it still shocks me sometimes, like, how are you playing college football looking like that?
But he plays so hard. And, I mean, like he’s always in the film room. And I admire the way he goes about how he plays football.
It’s just a lot of fun having him back there. It’s not ever like Jake says something and I’ll question it because I know you’ve watched it probably 20, 30 times already, ran through it in your mind at least a hundred, so he’s always been the leader on this offense and just got nothing but love for him.
He’s always been a good dude. When I first came in he had been in for two or three quarters because he came in early, and kind of walked me through the offense and his quarterback route because, I guess, different positions but he knows everything.
It was impressive that he could tell me, hey, due to the lineup here, and you’ve got this and you’ve got that. And as a freshman you needed that when you’re on the field because you have no idea where you’re going.
Q. How weird is that having a freshman quarterback like that that seems to know —
MYLES GASKIN: Seems rare to me. I don’t know how the whole quarterback thing goes. I’m sure that every quarterback watches a lot of film, but I think he’s on a much different level than most. So I appreciate it. I couldn’t have made it through freshman year without him and still sometimes I ask him what to do. But, yeah, he’s always on top of it.
Q. Do you remember the last time or any time where you guys had any disagreement?
MYLES GASKIN: Disagreement? Nope. But I can remember the last time I asked him what do I have on this play. The last game we played I asked him what do I have. He’s always got my back and pointing me in the right direction, so that’s all good.
Q. Was that your initial impression going all the way back to like you said, like physically, probably heard about all the numbers and records that he’s put up, and stand up next to him and he’s not a whole lot bigger than you?
MYLES GASKIN: It’s just surprising how much he’s a regular dude. You laugh and joke with him and just realize like he’s all-world or whatever you want to call it. He’s a really good player. But he’s just like me or you, just laugh and joke with him. So never takes himself too seriously. That’s why you’ve got to love him. So that’s cool.
Q. That’s kind of his reputation from day one — does take his football seriously, studies more than anyone and like you said (inaudible). Is that kind of maintained or has he kind of — as he’s grown confident, more comfortable, has he loosened up a little bit?
MYLES GASKIN: He’s kind of the same dude. He’s like 100 percent full on. When he’s off the field, he’s 100 percent off the field. I don’t think he takes himself too seriously. He just loves to play football like everybody else in this room, everybody else on this team. It’s just a good group of guys that just play ball.
Q. How fun has the last two years been?
MYLES GASKIN: It’s been amazing. It’s been amazing since the first time since I stepped in that locker room until now it’s crazy. I was thinking about it the other day, about my dad and just I never watched the Huskies growing up. I’ll tell you that right now. They just weren’t that interesting to me. Maybe some people don’t watch anymore, I don’t know.
But it’s different. It’s very much a different culture. And forget all the wins and all that stuff, it’s just a different type — I feel like we have a different outlook on it. Maybe it’s because I’m here, like in the sense I’m in these people’s seats, but I just think it’s a lot different.
Q. What do you think, again, you’re not in the other program’s shoes, but what do you think?
MYLES GASKIN: I thought it’s just much more — Coach Pete has this build for life, I’m sure not everybody knows that. But he’s always trying to make sure we’re a better man, better person, better person in society, whatever you want to call it.
And just the family aspect of this team, it means a lot to myself coming from an all-guys school O’Dea, that whole brotherhood stuff. It’s like another step into it. And I just appreciate it a lot, just a lot more than I ever would.
It’s always like, hey, we play ball, but like I’m still cool with you off the field. Like I’ll hit you up like just like one of the dudes I grew up with, like what are you doing today, like yesterday: Tell your family I said Merry Christmas, all types of stuff like that. The guys, relationships I’ll carry on for the rest of my life.
Q. You mentioned you didn’t watch much Washington football growing up. (Indiscernible). Have you got much relationship with him? Has he reached out to you at all?
MYLES GASKIN: Not much. I think I’ve talked to him a few times but here and there. But, yeah, he was good. I’ve watched his highlights, I’ll tell you that, I’ve watched highlights a good amount of times. He’s really good, to say the least. But, yeah, he was a baller.
Q. Did you realize you were within striking distance of the record?
MYLES GASKIN: A few people told me about it. It is what it is. We’re just trying to win.
Q. But, Huskies, something you can look back on or whatever?
MYLES GASKIN: Yeah, something like that. It would be cool. It would be a blessing, like I always say. Records are great, but I think team record’s most important.
Q. Jake was saying you guys were in the playoffs last year. You saw what it was like, Alabama, and a stage like this. That helped this year kind of maybe a little more comfortable, I don’t know if you feel that with the team now, with most of the guys back, obviously, kind of going through that help this time around?
MYLES GASKIN: Absolutely. The preparation is pretty much the same in the sense of like how we went about it. But I will say like these are two very different teams. Our team from last year is a very different team and Alabama and Penn State are two very different teams.
Q. A little delayed getting here, but can you talk about getting down here and getting to play in this game, what it means to you, what it means to your program?
MYLES GASKIN: It means a lot. I’ve never been to Arizona personally, but I think it should be a lot of fun. Just really excited to get it going again one last time for this year and ready to have some fun.
Q. You’ve had two bumps, kind of like Penn State, otherwise a real good season. What would it mean to finish off culminating in putting something on top of your cherry for the holiday season?
MYLES GASKIN: It always means a lot to win. So just not let this game get too big in our heads or anything like that. Just come out here, play like any other game. Obviously it’s a bowl game, so it should be a lot of fun, a little hype behind it but just another game, just football.
Q. When you guys are clicking on offense, what are you guys doing right?
MYLES GASKIN: Doing everything right. Just O line’s hitting on all cylinders, receivers are doing their thing, Jake’s doing his thing, running backs are doing their thing. It’s just one of those type of things where everybody’s clicking and getting it, moving the ball forward. That’s all it’s about.
Q. One part of your team that’s important is special teams punt return. How important is he to the program?
MYLES GASKIN: Very important. He does all things — punt returns, catches the ball very well. He blocks. He does everything. So Dante is a great player. He’s amazing. But you just never notice how much he really does because everybody’s, like, wowed by the punts and everything, but blocking — he’ll set up other routes by everybody having all their eyes on him and just throwing underneath (inaudible).
Q. We cover Penn State, we covered their game when they lost in Columbus. What do you see from their defense? Obviously that’s what you’ve got to go against. What do you see from the defense? They don’t put too much pressure on the quarterback but seems like the back end is pretty (indiscernible).
MYLES GASKIN: Those guys don’t have any weak spots. Most teams kind of have like kind of a drop-off point, maybe their linebackers or DBs or something like that. But everybody is really solid on that team, it’s only good guys on those sides. So it’s just one of those things where it’s going to come down to details and just making a play. So you’re not going to get a break. You’re not getting get one of those guys receiver running wide open or huge or something like that. You’ve got to play them straight up.
Q. So can you tell me a little bit about your experience here with — what time did you guys get in yesterday?
DANTE PETTIS: Got in yesterday, like 3:00.
Q. What’s it been like for you so far to be here in Arizona at the Fiesta Bowl?
DANTE PETTIS: Honestly we haven’t been able to do, we weren’t able to do that much last night. But it was pretty warm when we got in. So that was good. It’s always nice to be in a warm place instead of, like, 20 degrees right now. And so that was good. We went into the jacuzzi for a little bit.
And we really just waited for the rest of the team to get here, because their flight got delayed coming from Seattle. So we had to wait for that. When they finally got here we went out and practiced for a little bit.
We were hanging out in the team room or the hospitality room. Got a bunch of PlayStations all over the place, it’s pretty cool.
Q. What are your feelings when you guys realized (indiscernible)?
DANTE PETTIS: It was a lot of fun. We were pretty excited. Everybody was, like, okay, we didn’t know where we were going to go. We had a good feeling that we would be somewhere pretty good.
But we didn’t know exactly where it was. So to find out we were in the Fiesta Bowl, that was definitely, like, very exciting. Have heard a lot of good things about the bowl. And, yeah, we’re just looking forward to this week.
Q. Is there anything that you are particularly nervous about or excited about going against this Penn State’s defense?
DANTE PETTIS: I think it’s always exciting to go against another really good team, especially on defense. If you’re a true competitor I think you always you want to go against another top dog. So it’s definitely good to go against a team like Penn State.
Q. What kind of reputation do they have that maybe you’re excited about?
DANTE PETTIS: They play hard. They get a lot of penetration up front and they always slide around to the ball. They’re pretty physical. So I think that’s going to be a good matchup for us. And just excited to see how it goes.
Q. What do you think the team morale is going up against Penn State?
DANTE PETTIS: Pretty good. Everybody is excited about this matchup. As soon as we found out, everybody started watching film, and I think we’re ready for this week. And we’ve got a few more practices to go. And, like I said, everybody is just excited.
Q. Anything that you’ve done in particular to prepare?
DANTE PETTIS: I mean, just watch some film. Do a little bit more than I have been. Obviously we’ve had a long break. And so you really get in the film room a lot more and watch all of their games and all that stuff.
Q. Anything else you want to share with us about what your experience has been so far, maybe in Arizona or —
DANTE PETTIS: It got a lot colder last night than I thought it was going to be. I wasn’t ready for that.
Because when we got in yesterday, it was like 70 degrees or something. And last night it felt like it was 30. But we’re still looking forward to this week. We’re going to the Suns’ game tonight. So that will be fun.
Q. Have you been to Phoenix before?
DANTE PETTIS: Yeah. We’ve played my freshman year we played out here in the Cactus Bowl. So I went there.
Q. The hair?
DANTE PETTIS: I just wanted to do something different. I had long hair for like two years. It was like I’m going to switch it up. So at the beginning of the year it was, like, around end of season I’m going to cut it off, get a Mohawk and then dye it, put some purple in it. So I stuck to the plan and that’s what happened.
Q. Just in terms of your recollections of that Cactus Bowl, what are the biggest things that come to mind when you think about this area?
DANTE PETTIS: Man, I feel like that was so long ago. I remember back then it was, we were staying at this hotel and honestly one of the things I remember most is we were all playing in the pool they had there. They had this like volleyball, like water volleyball court set up, and everybody was hanging out playing in there. They had some slides. That was pretty cool. And so I remember that was a lot of a lot of fun.