THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Washington head coach Chris Petersen.
COACH PETERSEN: Good morning. We’re excited to be here. We’ve had a good few days of practice here since we’ve been here, excited to be out there back again today and put some final touches on the game plan. But coaches and kids have had a really good week here and we’re getting excited to play.
Q. Special teams, is there added importance on both sides?
COACH PETERSEN: I don’t think for us special teams is ever added importance. It’s always of paramount importance in every game we play. So when you’re playing a really good team and big games it’s going to come down to all those important phases and to us special teams is as important as offense or defense.
So we put as much emphasis in it from day one from spring football to what we do right now, so it doesn’t change the importance of it. It is important. Every game, every day to us.
Q. What do you remember about your time in Pittsburgh? Do you have some fond memories of that?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah, that was a long time ago. Yeah, I like the city of Pittsburgh. It’s different than I think people in the West that hadn’t been out there, spent anytime there.
And we weren’t out there very long, just been married. And really just started in coaching. And it was a good time. Learned a lot. Coach Paul Hackett was the head coach out there. And he’s still one of the best teachers I’ve ever been around in terms of teaching quarterbacks, explaining the game.
Yeah, there’s a lot of things I learned in my short time out there, but I enjoyed it.
Q. Could you reflect on the growth this year of Salvon Ahmed and sort of what that threat of his speed could mean in this game and down the road?
COACH PETERSEN: Yeah. I always think it’s unique when we play those freshmen, especially when they come out and have that, can play at a high level from the start.
I think the thing that’s interesting about Salvon that we’ve kind of said from the start is he’s such a great kid. He wants to do everything just right and sometimes that can slow guys down a little bit. So I think just him getting more reps in games and moving him to different positions and kick returning and all those things, you really feel like his future is going to be really, really bright.
As explosive as he is, you’re kind of excited to see how this thing is going to go for when he just plays more and doesn’t think so much and he just goes. You see flashes, in the games, you see flashes in practice where you’re just like, wow, this is different and this is really special.
And he’s a great guy to be able to coach, because he likes to be around those guys who want to get it just right, and sometimes — that’s what you’re pushing so hard for as a coach and sometimes there’s certain guys like him that you’re, like, you’re fine; it’s good enough. Just go.
Q. With Jonathan Smith leaving and Matt Lubick taking over, has much really changed or does he have his own little flavor? Also, I talked to Penn State’s defensive coordinator about your propensity to dial something up in terms of trick plays for the game on Saturday. He said he’s gone back and watched about 10 years worth of them. I asked if he had a favorite and he said he hated them all. Anything specific dialed up for Saturday?
COACH PETERSEN: Now, you know if we did I wouldn’t say anything anyways. I like it when guys have to go back and look at all that stuff. I think that’s a lot of wasted time and energy. But I guess we’ve got time on our hands for these bowl games. So it is what it is.
Yeah, and as far as Matt, kind of the way we game plan anyways — everybody has sections. Scott Huff has been the mastermind behind the run game, protections, for the whole year.
And then you put those different plays into sections of the game plan that everybody feels good about. You kind of go from there. But it will be different. There’s no question about it. Jonathan’s been calling for the last handful of years. But Scott Huff will be very involved as well in terms of calling this game. So between the two of them, yeah, we’ll make it work.
Q. From the time you’ve been here of course you’ve always had Keishawn. How would you describe the impact Keishawn’s had on this program, not just what he’s done on the field but also how he’s mentored guys along and set an example?
COACH PETERSEN: He’s a unique guy that he’s such a good player, for one. I think he’s always just working to get better himself. That’s nice to be around that. And it’s nice to watch his game continue to grow and become a real detailed player in there. But probably the best thing that he does is just his presence on the field, in the locker room, with the guys.
He’s all about football. He’s all about the team. He’s all about doing it the right way and he’s just got that kind of “it” factor about him. And that will be the hardest thing about replacing Keishawn is really just who he is.
He’s a good football player, but he brings so much to the table in that intangible section that that’s going to be the hardest thing for us to replace next year. So I’m excited for him to end his career in a game like this.
He’s been here a long time. And he’s one of those guys it’s like, wow, where did this go, it’s like Keishawn is actually going to be done. And we’ve been here for a long time, but it just goes so fast. And excited for him to play this game.
Q. Talking about somebody going back and watching 10 years of film, when you have three or four weeks to prepare for a bowl game, do you think that coaches sometimes fall into the trap of trying to do too much or — having too much time on their hands?
COACH PETERSEN: I know we do. I don’t worry about the opponents in terms of what they’re going to do. But I think it’s really hard — it’s really hard to stay tight in your numbers, for us always, because you can only practice so much. You get more practice time so you’re just kind of — you’re practicing stuff that’s not going to get called in games.
And so when you have a bye week or you have a couple of weeks in terms of a bowl preparation, it’s always been hard for us to stay true to the numbers in the game plan that you’re going to end up calling. And so I do think that that’s the thing for us on our side to make sure we stay to what we’ve been doing all year.
Q. Everybody knows that Saquon Barkley is kind of the guy that you look for when you prepare to face Penn State, but what do you see from Trace McSorley? And what do you want to do to kind of prepare for him?
COACH PETERSEN: I think any really explosive offense in this day and age, it’s always about the quarterback. I think Barkley is a unique, rare talent at that size and that speed. There’s no question. That’s why he’s going to be drafted where he’s going to be drafted.
That’s obvious. But the guy that makes this go is the quarterback, for sure. He’s a good football player. I mean, he’s the kind you’re like, yeah, you’d like him on your team.
You can tell he’s a competitor. He runs. He’s tough. He can throw it. They use him in unique ways. Real creative on offense and different things they do with him. And he makes it go.
Q. The quarterback, their offense forces guys to make a lot of different decisions, right? It forces you guys into a lot of one-on-one matchups. What are the keys to winning those matchups?
COACH PETERSEN: We play all season with a bunch of one-on-one matchups anyways. That’s a little bit of our style. But I think when you look at this offense and the points that they score, it’s because they’re not one dimensional. They can run the ball. The quarterback can run the ball. The quarterback can scramble with the ball.
They’ve got an awesome running back, and they have three or four really good receivers and they spread the ball around. There’s not, well, we’ve got to take this guy out of the game plan and we’re good.
They all catch about the same amount of balls and so this is a tough offense to defend. We’ll have our hands full, and everybody has had their hands full all year. So it will be a different challenge that we haven’t seen.
Q. In talking to a couple of the players, especially the seniors the last couple of days, they’ve talked about the differences between when you first came in the Cactus Bowl, for instance, and now today. They felt like back then maybe there was a little bit more play, it was more things. But now they feel like it’s a lot more dialed in, maybe it’s a lot more fired up and a lot more involved and focused in the game plan. Did last year’s playoff, did that maybe subtly change any of your thinking about how some of these bigger games were approached?
COACH PETERSEN: I don’t think so. I always think every game is kind of unique in terms of making sure the kids’ energy is right; that they just have the right energy. And we worry about that every game during the season.
And not every game is the same. And you’re trying really to get at that peak performance, that performance anxiety curve we always talk about where it’s not too high and not too low. And most of the time we’re right on. And a few times we’ve been off for whatever reason.
And we’ve talked about this a lot, but I think it’s hard every week to show up with that “best.” And our kids know it. We talk about it all the time. But sometimes it just feels different.
So you come to a game like this and you’ve worked really hard — I’ve been to games where we’ve worked really hard and thought our preparation was great, and we’ve come out and it’s, like, did we work too hard? Did we leave it on the practice field?
And so I think as coaches you’re always trying to figure out what the right balance is. And as coaches you’re always thinking we need one more rep, we need to spend a little bit more time, it’s not right. And I think sometimes that can work against you.
So we’re always paying attention to getting those guys with the right energy, the right mentality. And when you’re grinding away for a long time, I think, it’s easier said than done.
Q. When you look back across your career, how does the bowl game affect the period after, like winter workouts leading to spring football? Does a win or loss affect the mood of the program for the couple months after that, or is it just a one-off that doesn’t really carry into your offseason prep?
COACH PETERSEN: You know, we try to, win or lose, we try to go back to reset and start over. But I know this: As awesome as this week is and this couple weeks have been in terms of our preparation, it is very painful and there’s not a lot of good memories when you don’t come here and win bowl games.
So there’s a lot of time and energy and money and all those things spent here. And you don’t win that last game, it’s really, really hard. I think there’s kind of a sour taste in your mouth. So it’s important, I know on both sides to win this game.
COACH PETERSEN: He’s a guy that can put his pads down, he kind of looks like a power back, but he’s really like a speed back. He’s most dangerous when you don’t contain him, and he gets on edges and he gets in the open field he’s going to run away from everybody. That’s what makes him so different. Maybe the back at USC, Ronald Jones, he’s kind of a big, fast guy. We didn’t play those guys this year.
Q. There’s a lot of pressure when you’re returning kicks in the game. Do you feel more pressure now that you’re playing on a big stage with something like the Fiesta Bowl or does it not —
DANTE PETTIS: I don’t think it really changes, because once you’re out, maybe before the game or whatever, but once you’re out in the field it’s kind of another football game.
Q. When you’re game planning against Penn State, what sticks out to you on their defense, what you’ll really have to look out for?
DANTE PETTIS: We probably have to get the ball out pretty quick because they get a lot of penetration up front. So it’s just going to be on the receivers to open and run the routes the right depth and all that stuff.
Q. You guys are a lot like Penn State. Your records are the same. You both have the playoff aspirations this year and it didn’t quite work out. How did you guys overcome maybe the initial disappointment of realizing, okay, we’re not going to be in the final four this year and move forward? Into this game, how do you move forward with that disappointment?
DANTE PETTIS: Just to look at the season we had and where we were two years ago and, okay, this is the kind of program that we should be. This is where we should be as a program, playing in these elite bowl games and from there it’s really just, okay, if — we made the last two years, like, we’ve got to keep this thing going.
And so it’s really just being appreciative for where we are and kind of that hunger for just continue to get better.
Q. Sort of kind of ironic that last year a lot of people felt you were the team that beat Penn State out for that last playoff spot. Sort of ironic that you’re playing them again now this year, right? Do you sense that as sort of —
DANTE PETTIS: Honestly I didn’t even know that that was a thing last year. But I mean if it is, I guess it will be a pretty interesting game then.
Q. Do you see this as being a lot of points scored on both sides of the game like this?
DANTE PETTIS: Honestly, I have no idea. In those bowl games, anything can happen. There’s times where games are in the 40s. Times where they’re right around 10. So it’s like anything can happen in the bowl games.
Q. The chance to end your season though with a win in a big bowl game like this, especially given the fact that maybe it didn’t work out quite the way you wanted it to work out, is that a big deal to at least end your season with a win in a New Year’s Six bowl?
DANTE PETTIS: Yeah, definitely. And obviously we want to be in the playoffs and everything, but we still had a great season. And a few plays here or there we would have been in the playoffs. But, like you said, we’re in one of these major bowl games, a New Year’s Six game, and that’s something that everybody dreams about doing. So to get a win on this stage, our last game, it would be pretty special.
Q. A lot of people seem to think because you play in the Pacific Northwest you don’t get a lot of media hype and attention for whatever reason. Is this a chance to maybe show that you do deserve some of that attention, given that you said your program is on a national level there?
DANTE PETTIS: Yeah, I think so. I mean you said it, there’s a lot of — something about the West Coast, Pacific Northwest, I don’t know what it is, but we don’t get that much media attention. It’s whatever, we’re still going to play hard. We’re still going to play up every day and we’ll be on that bigger stage it will be a good chance for us.
DANTE PETTIS: Yeah, first night we went to the Suns game — second night, I guess, we went to the Suns game. That was exciting. Very good game. Last second alley-oop based off the inbounds. That was crazy. Then we went to Topgolf last night. That was pretty fun too.
Q. Are you a golfer?
DANTE PETTIS: I try. I try.
DANTE PETTIS: It’s definitely a lot hotter. So that’s real nice, playing in warm weather for a little bit.
I’m from Southern California. So kind of not the same weather but it’s similar. So I’m kind of used to it. But it definitely is nice to be back in warm weather for a little bit.
Q. I saw your Instagram story (indiscernible). Jake Browning (inaudible). What do you think is going through his head (indiscernible)?
DANTE PETTIS: I think he’s real excited about it. He loves talking to the media and stuff. So he’s definitely very excited to be over there right now.
Q. Talk about the game. When you’re indoors, fielding punts — I know in baseball you had trouble, like, outfielders, like, contrast and stuff. Similar thing with punts?
DANTE PETTIS: Definitely. The lights have something to do with it, too. And depends, like, how high the roof is and stuff. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into it. But I mean if you track the ball off the punters foot normally you have a pretty good chance of following it the whole way.
Q. Just need a couple of reps —
DANTE PETTIS: Yeah, exactly.
Q. What does it mean to be the NCAA’s all-time leader? Not many people can say that in many categories but what does that mean?
DANTE PETTIS: I mean right now, honestly, not a whole lot. In three years, hopefully that record still stands and I’ll be able to look back on it and say that was a pretty special thing.
But right now we’re still in the season. Got one more game. It’s not really something that we look at and all that.
Q. One game at a time?
DANTE PETTIS: Yeah.
Q. When you’re preparing for different coverage unit (inaudible), do you look for tendencies they might have as you would for defense? Or what’s your preparation from that standpoint and what are those tendencies you look for?
DANTE PETTIS: Normally you look at first the way they’re set up, the formation they punt out of. And you look at do they rugby punt, roll out and kick it or or are they a pocket punter. And then you see how they cover and whether it’s some guys get done really fast or they don’t really care about protection too much or they stay and protect a lot and get out late. There’s a lot of different things you can study a punt team.
JAKE BROWNING: I haven’t thought about it that much. I couldn’t even tell you who was number five last year. That was last year, this is this year and both are different teams.
And, I don’t know, there’s a lot of back stories you can try and draw on but I’m not really thinking about it a ton, to be honest. We’ve just got to go beat Penn State.
Q. You talked about Trace McSorley and your relationship with him. Is it kind of a quarterback fraternity thing, too, especially guys that are as high profile as you two guys develop a little bit of a relationship?
JAKE BROWNING: I wouldn’t say necessarily you just get along just because you’re quarterbacks, but I will say there’s only so many people that are playing Division I, high level college football and play quarterback.
But you guys probably know it, too, when you interview people, there’s the quarterbacks that seem like normal people and quarterbacks think that they’re too big for some things.
And so I kind of gravitate towards the guys that are normal guys and don’t try to act like they’re bigger than anybody else. I got along with Trace for the weekend when we were there and kept in touch a little bit, but nothing really too elaborate. Just seemed like a normal dude and that was pretty much it.
Q. I’ve never met you and I covered Trace for the last couple of years. You do see like the same type of personality. Is that kind of what drew you guys together, like you said?
JAKE BROWNING: Yeah, also because we were roommates. You don’t have a choice. He could think I’m a total loser, but I was his roommate. We had to be together.
Q. What was that?
JAKE BROWNING: Uplifting Athletes, Lift for Life.
JAKE BROWNING: I mean, that was all at Boise. So I doesn’t really, I don’t think about it that much. He kind of knows the lay of the land a little bit and what the schedule’s like. But other than that, it’s pretty much the same guy. He’s been coaching me for three years now, so kind of more based off that, being able to know each other pretty well.
Q. (Indiscernible) your final season here. How important is it to end on a high note?
JAKE BROWNING: It’s not my final season, but I definitely want to win the Fiesta Bowl and finish stronger than we did last year. And definitely makes the offseason feel a lot better when you win your bowl game.
Q. How exciting was it for you guys to know that you’re not only in the Fiesta Bowl but an opponent like Penn State?
JAKE BROWNING: Yeah, we were excited. I think every team that makes some of these bigger bowl games that aren’t in the playoffs wish they were in the playoff. But a two-loss teams, it’s really hard to make it.
We’re excited to be in the Fiesta Bowl and excited to play somebody like Penn State, a program that has some tradition and some national recognition.
Q. And the talk obviously has been about the number one rushing defense that you guys boast. But we know this is going to be a gunslinger game; it was last year with Penn State against USC, another Pac-12 team. How exciting is that to get a matchup, knowing that it’s going to be offense versus offense, even though you guys aren’t on the field at the same time?
JAKE BROWNING: I haven’t really thought about it that much like that. We just want to score every time we have the ball and hopefully that happens. But I’m more focused on what Penn State does on defense than what they do on defense. You’d have to ask Keishawn and some of them about what they do on offense.
Q. When you look at the defense, what are you game planning for when you look at what’s out there on the field?
JAKE BROWNING: They come at you in a lot of different ways, bring a lot of different blitzes. Play really physical, like most Big Ten team teams do. And good in the secondary of making sure that they match up everything they do with their pressures. They play really sound, and you’re not just going to beat them because they blow — they mess something up. You gotta go get it.
Q. I know for Penn State, they lost the Rose Bowl last year. Left that sour taste in their mouth. So for you guys how important is it to make sure that you walk away with a final win to motivate you guys into the next season in a proper way?
JAKE BROWNING: Yeah, I think we’re going to be motivated either way. But we haven’t won a big-time bowl game. We won the Heart of Dallas Bowl and that was pretty much it. As far as how I look at it, that’s the only bowl game we’ve won. And we lost the Peach Bowl. So we have a sour taste in our mouth too about it. We want to win a big-time bowl game and take the next step as a program.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs Washington
Thursday, December 28, 2017
Q. What were the first thoughts when you heard you were going to this bowl game?
MYLES GASKIN: I’ve never been to Arizona before, that’s probably the first one. Just excited against — opportunity to play against a good team. Just really excited to get a direction on what we was doing. Ready to get it going.
Q. You and Penn State are so similar in a lot of ways. Your records are the same, you both had playoffs dreams (indiscernible). The playoff wasn’t going to be it this year. How has that affected your mindset going into this game?
MYLES GASKIN: Just kind of taking one game at a time really. You can’t get too far ahead of yourself, that’s when you start losing, that’s when you start losing your composure and everything like that, when you start looking over the horizon. Trying to look at the game right in front of you. That’s what helped us toward the end of the season. Just getting here is just, won the last game and go all out for it.
Q. You were a playoff team and you were the team that a lot of people thought kept Penn State out of the playoff. Is it ironic you’re playing them now a year later in a game like this?
MYLES GASKIN: I guess so. I never thought about it like that. I thought the whole thing was getting SC in there maybe.
Q. I think they were five and you were four is what ultimately came down to it.
MYLES GASKIN: Never crossed my mind until now, until you talk about it, but kind of crazy, huh? Just how one year can change everything.
Q. Obviously you and Saquon Barkley are two of the feature performers in this game. You look similar to each other on tape. How do you differ in your styles?
MYLES GASKIN: He’s a bigger dude, lot bigger dude. Probably faster than me. I can’t really say — I don’t know his styles. I don’t know. I don’t know so much. He’s just a great player, to be honest. Everybody knows that he runs hard. He’s very shifty for how big he is and he gets it going.
Once he gets out there, he does not get caught and he can return the ball. He’s got a lot of things to his game that they’re just outstanding. A lot of people talk about him but I don’t think he really — there’s hype around it, but it’s not hype. I don’t think people really understand how good he is. It’s cool to be able to play against him and this team it will be fun.
Q. Do people understand how good you are?
MYLES GASKIN: I don’t know. I don’t get too caught up in all that stuff. I just like playing football.
Q. When you look at this game from Pac-10/Big Ten standpoint, does that kind of excite you a little bit, because there’s sort of a natural rivalry there given the long Rose Bowl history between the conferences and everything. Does that sort of motivate you a little bit more even?
MYLES GASKIN: Yeah. I mean, I just think it’s cool to get to play against a different type of, different conference team in a different type of style.
I think every conference has its own type of style, personally I think the practices kind of spread you out and get the ball on the edges. And just to get to play against some different guys, I really think so.
And I think it should be real fun. Those guys, their defense is real good. I mean, nobody’s not good on their team. You can usually always pick out a couple of guys, like, oh, their safeties are weak or their corners aren’t so good or something like that.
But looking at film, I was watching film last night, you can’t really put a spot, like, oh, we can come at that. It’s just going to come down to details and playing them straight up, playing them as hard as we can.
Q. The chance to end your season with a win in a bowl game, especially in a season that may not have worked out as you visually planned it, is that important to you guys?
MYLES GASKIN: Absolutely. Like you said it wasn’t the way we wanted it to end up. This is not where we wanted to be, but we’re glad we’re here. (Inaudible).
But just another opportunity to go play in a big stage. It’s, like, game starts at 2:00, so everybody’s going to be watching. It’s just going to be fun, big stage to perform on. So it will be cool.
Q. (Question about Saquon Barkley)
MYLES GASKIN: I think the way he has a stop and go. The fact he can change directions so fast is very impressive. I really do. It’s kind of incredible how big he is and how strong he is that he can just put his foot in the ground and go the other way.
Q. Have you met up with him since you got out here?
MYLES GASKIN: No.
Q. (Question from Dante Pettis) who is your favorite receiver?
MYLES GASKIN: Do I count as a receiver?
MYLES GASKIN: I have two receiving touchdowns, Dante. I count as a receiver.
Q. Wanted to ask you about Browning, what’s that stands out most to you about him?
MYLES GASKIN: I think the thing people don’t see, which is hard to see, obviously, is that he’s a real competitor. He takes this game to heart. Like he loves this game.
He’s always trying to work on his game. He’s always watching film. But he’s a real good dude. Like he has no problem getting on you about messing up. Like he always wants everybody to be at their best. He doesn’t slack off on nobody and sometimes that hurts other people’s feelings.
I mean, it is what it is. But I kind of look up to him in that sense he has no problem yelling at him like a coach some guys don’t have the heart to do it and nothing wrong with that at all, nothing wrong with that at all but being in that quarterback position kind of has to and he’s embraced it since day one.
That’s one of the things I really do look up to him about and he won’t give up until the bitter end. Like he will scramble around.
Sometimes it hurts him, but like I’m never mad at him. I know Coach probably has something to say about it. But I’m never mad at him. I know where it comes from. It’s not just him scrambling around to scramble around, he’s trying to make a big play. Every time he’s on the field, every time we go on offense, huddle, hype us up. We’re going to go down here, score, go down here and do something, something, something, something.
And he’s just got it, you know what I’m saying? Just got that umpf about him. He’s ready to play all the time.
Q. Getting on guys, every quarterback has to have some of that from a leadership standpoint. It kind of depends how you deliver it and whether you can get over it if he gets on you.
MYLES GASKIN: Yeah, like I said, in that position you do have to, but I think he just takes in that role a lot better than a lot of people I’ve ever seen.
I can only speak for the University of Washington, and things I’ve heard from other people. But I just think he has no problem. If it’s the O lineman towers over everybody has no problem getting right in their face about it myself. Jake has no problem if he really has something to say to me he has no problem saying it to me and like it doesn’t matter if you’ve been starting every single year you’ve been here you’re a redshirt freshman does not care wants everybody to be at their best.
Q. If there’s ever a situation like that do you ever talk about it later with him like —
MYLES GASKIN: Me personally.
Q. Like man, you were on me.
MYLES GASKIN: Me personally, no, I think my freshman year we got into it a lot. Not a lot, but like I messed up a lot as a freshman. There’s no sugarcoating it. So he get at me, no problem with it.
I’ve heard it all before. I’ve been cussed out by my high school coach. It’s just football. Nothing like that.
Q. You don’t take it personal?
MYLES GASKIN: Don’t take it personal because you always gotta know it’s from a place of, hey, we want to be the best we possibly can be, you know what I’m saying? It’s not, oh, you’re so bad, you’re so this. It’s like I know you can do better and let’s see it. It’s not putting guys down.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs Washington
Thursday, December 28, 2017
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: … that the government has control of. We learned a lot. We really learned a lot how America works outside of the United States, even though that’s technically a state. We learned a lot that they don’t teach you in school. You learn real-life learning, I would say.
We were going out in the communities talking to people. We’re going out in the communities eating dinner with people. And every meal was pretty much cooked in a household. We actually had people in the community coming and taking care of us.
After that we have life-long friends in Hawaii now. So I could say it was a study abroad. I could say it was a vacation. I could say it was an internship, because every morning we’re waking up and grinding. But for me it wasn’t like I was out there in 30-degree weather in the cold, frost on the field, pushing sleds and stuff. I was waking up and we’re running trail in the morning. And then we would go to a pond that was built 500 years ago to help restore it.
So it was a study abroad. It was study abroad. But people say, you’re going to Oahu, you’re going to Hawaii. That’s a vacation. It was a vacation, but at the same time, I just enjoyed what I was doing. There are people that, oh, I don’t want to go out there and have to work with the kids and do — I want to actually go on vacation.
Well, it was more than that to me. I was able to affect people. I was able to be a University of Washington student and athlete, and show these kids, like, what it is to be a college student and go out and help people and just learn about different things.
The last time I went to Hawaii, we were barely allowed on the beaches. And that was my first game in my college career. And we didn’t really get to experience Hawaii. A lot of people go to Hawaii and they don’t really experience Hawaii because you’re in the tourist areas. We’re on the west side of the island. We’re in there with the natives, going up to the mountains and getting into the freshwater streams and ponds.
And I would say that’s probably one of the best weekends I had being a University of Washington student was to go out there with a bunch of, we call them muggers, but it’s like regular students and a few football players and be a student abroad.
Q. You would stay at U-Dub forever if you could?
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: Absolutely. If I could do something like that every vacation or every five days I got off, or every ten days, I would absolutely do it.
As far as school-wise, I’ll probably have to leave after I got my Master’s, because that’s about it. But, yeah, I really did have fun in college, I really did. And honestly these guys around me, they made it a lot better.
Q. The struggles that ethnic Hawaiians, native Hawaiians have, are there similarities between ethnic minorities here on the mainland?
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: Absolutely. It’s like I would say the government allowing people to access resources. So on Hawaii people who want to farm, the biggest thing is water, fresh water. Those are things that’s like that’s a cultural, I want to say like an indigenous plant or whatever they’re farming is usually indigenous, it’s healthy, super healthy. They need a constant flow of like fresh water.
So if you’ve got to go talk to the government and say, okay, you close this stream down that flows down through my part of the land from my access to freshwater, now you have to file paperwork. Now they have like other things set up to where you can’t get that fresh water. I mean, it’s very similar to what we experienced here in the states. But people really don’t like — a lot of people don’t really see that because they go to Hawaii, say I’m going to go stay in this hotel, going to sit on this beach, now you’re going to somebody else’s land, because this land we’re standing on isn’t ours unless you know your true history and a lot of people don’t.
But Hawaiians, real Hawaiians, they know their history their grandparents passed it down. A lot of people here, besides the Indians, the Native Americans, the real indigenous people, a lot of the history has been erased. And that’s purposely. So I would kind of say it’s very similar as far as the world trying to discourage who you are.
I would say that’s one of the biggest things. A lot of people say you shouldn’t live this way, this isn’t right, you need to do this. You need to have this modern car, this modern house, take your kids to this modern school. That’s not really true. The most important thing is to understand the self.
If you know who you are and what you believe in, I mean, the world can’t change you. But a lot of people here don’t. That’s why people have like these identity issues or they have issues all — I mean, every day.
People have like midlife crises because they don’t know who they are. They don’t know their history, what their parents or grandparents went through and ancestors before them. A lot of people look at us and say we came from slavery. I don’t really think a lot of my ancestors came from slavery. I think I had ancestors that went through slavery. But I think I have ancestors who also did slavery too. So I’m not exactly sure because I don’t know my history. But it’s one thing I’m trying to work on and research.
I’m trying to figure out who I am based on my history, but it’s hard. It’s been erased.
Q. You were here for the previous coaching staff. You’ve seen the program really start to take off in the last couple of years. Can you talk to me about that transition from one coaching staff to the next to get to the level you achieved?
KEISHAWN BIERRIA: I would say it’s kind of like light and day. Coach Sark — I mean, night and day. My bad. That’s how different it is.
That team we’re on, the relationships were strong. The competitiveness was at an all-time high. Guys would go — say it was rap tempo. Guys are hitting it like it’s live. That’s how competitive we were.
As far as that, a lot of the older guys took us in. But a lot of older guys didn’t. It was like, okay, I need to play, I need to get on the field and I want to say — I don’t want to say guys were selfish, but everybody was just like fully competing to the highest level. And it wasn’t really a lot of brotherhood on the field.
Guys didn’t really try to take care of each other on the field during practice. And it was a lot about me, me, I can’t wait to get on the field so I can get to the next level as far as like this team needs to win games so we can win championships and get to the next level. That’s where I want to say Coach Pete changed the dynamics of this team. He focuses more on team, unit, me instead of me, unit, team.
So now the way I move, the way I talk, is surrounded by my team first, then it goes to my linebacker unit and then it’s about me. And it’s all about our culture, really. Our culture has completely changed. Guys have a lot more respect for each other. They understand each other a lot more. And within that it’s created a lot stronger friendships and bonds between teammates.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs Washington
Thursday, December 28, 2017
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: Just when I got into college, I didn’t know what I wanted to study. I started out as a psych major, just because I wanted to do like, oh, something it’s like a good major, quote/unquote. And just one of those things I didn’t really love that.
I wasn’t that interested in it. And I talked to my parents. One thing I’ve loved since I was little was film. They were like honestly go study what you want to study, what you’re interested in. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last two years and I’ve really enjoyed it.
Q. You’re not quite sure how you might apply that?
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do. I’m just focused on trying to play football at the next level. That’s one of the things I’ll figure out, whether it’s grad school or something like that but right now focused on football.
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: It’s awesome. It’s really interesting stuff. My brother, he got into film when we were really little kids. He was making little camcorders, that kind of stuff. I was always interested in it.
And once I got here, I started taking all sorts of different film classes, genre studies, and different things and I thought all really interesting and kind of interesting and you can learn. I took a class this quarter that was really more of a sociology class with film aspects interesting the way it ties into so many different things when you look at it.
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: If I let myself kind of get into that student brain, I can kind of get caught up looking at the technical aspects and that kind of stuff. But I try to be able to go to movies and just enjoy the movies. But it’s definitely easy to get caught up and start analyzing things they could do this better or that better it’s fun.
Q. You went to see Last Jedi?
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: Haven’t seen it. Don’t spoil it.
Q. I won’t. But sometimes thinking —
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: It is easy sometimes you can get sucked out of the movie because you easily get caught up in that’s continuity error and you’re thinking about that. It definitely does — I do my best, from watching with my friends, never be the guy who starts talking, they’re doing this wrong or that wrong. I’d rather just enjoy the movie.
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: Yeah, I heard that’s great. My parents told me to go see that.
Q. Personally for me it’s like (inaudible)?
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: I’ll definitely check it out. It’s on my list. I’ve been hearing great things about it.
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: He should go find some like amateur, like, long driving competitions because he can smoke the ball. He was crushing them.
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: Yeah. It’s fun. If you like driving ranges, it’s just a better version of that. And play real golf. It probably won’t compare to that. Probably get frustrated with the tees then. It’s got rubber things, they’re super frustrating. It’s like a little rubber tube because they can’t lose a bunch of tees. You can’t adjust the height or anything it’s just low enough that it’s not ideal.
Q. They have clubs there?
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: Yeah, they have a bunch of clubs. I don’t think they have a full set but you could make it work. They’ve got wedges. They’ve got most of the irons. They’ve got like a 1-wood and 3-wood.
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: Should be good. We’ve got one more real practice and then just kind of our normal Friday pregame routine.
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: I mean, yeah, you definitely can if you —
Q. How do you (inaudible)?
BEN BURR-KIRVEN: They do a pretty good job of cutting down practice. We’re not practicing as long as we would have, say, in September or anything like that. But it’s just kind of a mindset as long as you understand it you go out there and try to get better and it’s pretty easy not to feel like you’re getting overworked or anything like that.