A boy who grew up a stone’s throw from Husky Stadium will suit up as the Huskies starting quarterback in 2014.
For how long remains to be seen.
Chris Petersen named redshirt sophomore Jeff Lindquist, a Mercer Island native, the starting quarterback for the Huskies on Friday. Lindquist edged out redshirt freshman Troy Williams with Cyler Miles suspended for the opener. He will start Washington’s season opener against Hawaii on August 30. Where the team heads from there is still to be determined.
“After the first game we will re-evaluate, see where we are and go from there,” Petersen said. “Cyler definitely factors into it, and Troy will factor into it . . . this will be a constant battle.”
“This is that fine line that we spoke about probably weeks and months ago. We don’t want anybody looking over their shoulder, but our guy’s got to go out there and produce.”
Lindquist and Williams battled throughout spring and summer practices with Miles’ future uncertain. While Miles has a start and eight games worth of experience, neither Lindquist nor Williams have thrown a collegiate pass. When Petersen announced Miles’ one-game suspension, the spotlight on their battle shined brighter. After months of watching the two quarterbacks, Petersen said he thought Lindquist deserved the nod.
“He’s done a great job from spring (until) now,” Petersen said. “I think we are splitting hairs trying to figure this out. Both have different skill sets they bring to the table, but I think at this point . . . we’re going to give Jeff the nod.”
Petersen pointed to Lindquist’s accuracy and decision-making as decisive factors.
“When we have been in scrimmage-type situations there have been a few less critical errors (from Jeff) ,” Petersen said. “He’s done a good job of not forcing the ball and making too many critical errors. We’re not going to play that (perfect game). We’re going to throw an interception on occasion, we’re going to fumble, we know that. We’re just going to try to reduce those and minimize (the mistakes).”
Coach Petersen was also complimentary of Williams. There was some talk earlier in camp about the possibility of one quarterback starting the game against Hawaii while the second plays the second half. Petersen said that wasn’t specifically going to be the case, but that both quarterbacks “need to be ready to roll.”
The 6-foot-4 Miles, who has been a part of team activities since the start of fall camp on August 4, will be eligible to play beginning September 6 when Washington hosts Eastern Washington. The redshirt sophomore completed 37 of 61 passes for 418 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions and ran for 200 yards. Despite his relatively short exposure to Petersen and offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith’s offensive scheme, it is expected that Miles will take over as Washington’s starting quarterback once he returns.
Mickens Impressive In Camp
One of the founding members of the self-styled “Legion of Zoom” has made perhaps the single greatest impression in Washington’s fall camp. Coach Petersen singled out junior wide receiver Jaydon Mickens Friday as a player who has stood out.
“I think Jaydon has had a really, really good fall camp,” Petersen said. “He’s one of the guys — not just as a punt returner, but as a wide receiver — (that has) been very consistent, has not missed a beat. His energy and focus has been great day in and day out.”
Mickens will be the team’s primary punt returner as well as starting slot receiver. He will look to improve upon a breakthrough sophomore season which saw him catch a team-high 65 passes for 688 yards and five touchdowns.
Which Running Back Will It Be?
Throughout fall camp, coach Smith and Petersen have said “by committee” is the likely approach Washington will take on divvying carries between its corps of four elite tailbacks — seniors Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper, redshirt freshman Lavon Coleman and sophomore Dwayne Washington.
Petersen echoed that sentiment Friday.
“All four of those guys are going to see the field (against Hawaii),” Petersen said.
But which running back receives the bulk of the workload will depend on the simple principle of results.
“Like I said a couple of weeks ago, who’s producing and who’s breaking tackles . . . in the backfield, spinning out and making something happen,” explained Petersen. “I’ll be down there on the running back coach going, ‘Can we get him the ball a little bit more?'”
The Multi-Dimensional Budda
True freshman Bishard “Budda” Baker from Bellevue High School, a top recruit from a season ago, will have a large impact on the Huskies. It just won’t be felt from one single area.
“Budda’s doing so many different things, not only on defense, but on all of our special teams,” Petersen said.
While he currently works with the second team defense behind starting free safety Brandon Beaver, Baker will see regular time on four of the team’s five special team’s units. In addition to being the second option on both return teams, Baker will run on both the kickoff and punt teams as a “gunner.”
It may not be long before the versatile Baker breaks through as a starter on defense, either. Though his head coach noted the team has to be wary of not over-extending him.
“We don’t want to water him down,” said Petersen.
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