Huskies' starting QB battle still undecided

Coach Chris Petersen says he’s pleased with efforts of Jeff Lindquist, Troy Williams during spring preview

Staff writerApril 20, 2014 

There were individual drills, strength and speed competitions, more individual drills and, before it was over, some 11-on-11 scrimmaging that resembled live football.

Washington’s spring preview Saturday at Husky Stadium wasn’t exactly a made-for-TV event, though Pac-12 Network went ahead and broadcast it anyway.

Instead, UW’s final spring workout looked a whole lot like the 14 that preceded it — save for some light-hearted fan interaction — as the Huskies simply tried to get as much done during a two-or-so-hour period as they could manage.

Accompanying that consistent approach, then, are the consistent (and persistent) questions about UW’s quarterback situation, which remains as unresolved as it was when these practices began.

Jeff Lindquist, who will be a third-year sophomore, had the better numbers Saturday, throwing four touchdown passes — three on consecutive series during a red-zone drill — and completing roughly 11 of his 16 pass attempts (official statistics were not distributed).

Troy Williams, who redshirted as a freshman in 2013, completed an estimated 14 of 21 pass attempts. None traveled farther than 9 yards, though Williams was often matched against the No. 1 defense while Lindquist mostly threw against the backups.

The two have split practice repetitions evenly. Neither looks head-and-shoulders better than the other. So it is not surprising that first-year coach Chris Petersen is drawing zero conclusions based on spring practices about who his starting quarterback will be in the Aug. 30 season opener against Hawaii.

He said there’s still no update on the status of suspended quarterback Cyler Miles, who was the presumed favorite to win the job before being connected to a Feb. 2 assault in the University District.

Miles wasn’t charged with a crime — as part of that case, wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow pleaded guilty last week to three misdemeanors — though both remain suspended. Petersen hasn’t said whether Miles will have an opportunity to win the job if he’s reinstated for preseason camp in August.

“I know everybody’s looking for the starting quarterback right now,” Petersen said. “We don’t have that. I think they both did a good job. They got a lot of reps, which was really, really nice. I think they probably feel like they improved as much as anybody.”

Williams, who spoke with reporters for the first time Saturday, said he most wants to improve his pocket presence to avoid being labeled as “an athlete who can throw the ball.”

The highly touted prospect from Los Angeles said it has been difficult learning a new offense in each of his first two collegiate seasons but that he felt the 15 spring practices helped him adapt.

“It’s difficult, but if you’re really dedicated, you’re really going to take the time out to go over the playbook,” Williams said. “Take extra time with the coaches, watching extra film, making sure you know everything out there so you can be the general out there, (and) anybody who needs a question answered, you can answer it for them.”

Asked what he has learned the most during UW’s spring practice period, Lindquist paused and replied: “The idea of getting comfortable with kind of running the offense and how to do that effectively and efficiently.”

Neither player can polish such skills without a strong summer, a time when coaches aren’t allowed to instruct them. Petersen hopes his first squad at UW can self-direct.

“We can’t coach them any longer until August, so they’re going to have to get a lot of things done on their own,” Petersen said. “We’ll see what type of leadership we have here. That’s a huge component. There’s a lot of time between now and August, and a lot of work to do. I think the really good teams have a little bit of leadership and get some things done.”

Williams knows nothing is settled.

“I don’t think anybody has any lead right now. It’s fun,” he said. “We all have great skills, great talent, and it’s going to be fun in the fall.”

EXTRA POINTS

Lavon Coleman, a redshirt freshman running back, had roughly 17 carries for 88 yards Saturday, including a 47-yard touchdown run that required him to weave from the right side of the field all the way across to the left. Deontae Cooper carried the ball about 11 times for roughly 67 yards. … Jaydon Mickens, Darrell Daniels, John Ross and Marvin Hall were Lindquist’s touchdown recipients. … Walk-on defensive back Nick Zelle had the only interception of the day. … Hau’oli Kikaha broke through for at least two “sacks,” though quarterbacks were off-limits to contact. … Junior linebacker Shaq Thompson wore a yellow, no-contact jersey, though he went through all noncontact drills at full speed.

christian.caple@thenewstribune.com
blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports
@ChristianCaple

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