Washington coach Chris Petersen fielded many questions at Pac-12 media day about quarterbacks.
Or, rather, about one quarterback. And very few about either of the two who practiced during the spring.
Petersen revealed Thursday that third-year sophomore Cyler Miles, who was suspended during spring practice while being investigated for an alleged assault — the prosecutor eventually declined to file charges — will not play in the Huskies’ season opener at Hawaii on Aug. 30.
Miles was reinstated to the team in mid-May, and will practice with the team when camp begins Aug. 4, and, Petersen said, will have every chance to win the starting quarterback job.
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But not for the opener.
“We thought it was appropriate that he was going to miss the first game, as well,” Petersen said to a throng of reporters inside the main interview room at Paramount Studios. “The one thing is, he missed all of spring ball. He missed every meeting. Everything. So he’s already been through a lot. Just that alone, being put behind the 8-ball. We’ll reinforce it, missing a game, but we are moving forward from that game forward.”
Petersen emphasized that he felt Miles’ spring suspension constituted “pretty hard” disciplinary action on the coach’s part, but also said Miles has done everything right and appears to have learned his lesson.
“I think he’s done a good job. He’s done everything right, without question, or he wouldn’t be with us,” Petersen said. “He’s done everything right, and guys make mistakes. We all know that. Certainly that age group. I always say, ‘Hey, the age group that we’re dealing with for the most part is the dumbest age group in America.’ It just happens to be so public. So guys make mistakes but the important thing is that we learn from it and we become better people and we do things correctly.”
Miles and former receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow were each accused of assault following an altercation in the University District on the night of Feb. 2, during a celebration of the Seattle Seahawks’ victory over the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.
Miles wasn’t charged because of lack of evidence. Stringfellow was charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of malicious mischief stemming from two separate incidents — one in which he struck a woman and destroyed her camera, and another later that night in which he assaulted a man who was walking with his girlfriend. Miles was allegedly present during each altercation.
Stringfellow pleaded guilty to each charge and accepted a plea bargain that sentenced him to five days on a work crew and $693 in fines (or 70 hours of community service), in addition to anger management counseling.
In King County District Court on April 16, Judge Anne Harper read aloud a statement from Stringfellow in which he admitted to “intentionally touching” a female victim in a harmful manner before damaging the camera she was carrying, which resulted in the malicious mischief charge.
Stringfellow also admitted to assaulting a male victim later that night. According to charging documents, Stringfellow and Miles approached a man and his girlfriend in the 2300 block of N.E. 50th Street before Stringfellow punched the man in the face, chased him and punched him again.
James Burnell, Stringfellow’s attorney, said his client was “backing up his quarterback” who is a “staunch Broncos fan” — a reference to Miles, who is from Centennial, Colorado.
Stringfellow eventually decided to transfer. Petersen said Thursday that Stringfellow was welcome to return to the team, but declined to answer a question about whether he would have faced a longer suspension than Miles.
Petersen said he thinks Miles has learned his lesson.
“I would say the fact that he didn’t have one day in spring football or one meeting probably sent a pretty strong message to him,” Petersen said. “Throughout that process, moving forward, he did everything correctly. And I think he will — I think he’ll be a better person, a better teammate, a better everything for going through it. Like I said, guys make mistakes and the most important thing is learn from them and do right moving forward.”
Said offensive tackle Ben Riva: “It’s kind of out of character for him. He’s not the kind of guy that goes looking for something like that. He’s responded well from it, he’s learned from his consequences and he’s ready to move on.”
The upshot for the Huskies, of course, is that either redshirt freshman Troy Williams or third-year sophomore Jeff Lindquist — neither of whom has attempted a pass in a college game — will start against Hawaii.
Williams and Lindquist were the only two quarterbacks who practiced during spring. But Miles, the most experienced quarterback on the roster, could very well end up the team’s starter for its home opener against Eastern Washington on Sept. 6. And Petersen said it will be “interesting” to see how repetitions are divided once camp begins.
“We’ve got to figure out our quarterback situation, starting with Troy and Jeff, and how Cyler factors in there, so that will be interesting,” Petersen said. “That’s part of the challenge and fun of the job. You’ve got to have a quarterback that’s playing at a high level or that whole offense will struggle.”