It is not in Jeff Lindquist’s nature to complain publicly about anything — certainly not playing time — or assign blame for his up-and-down season this year.
So the Washington Huskies’ third-year sophomore quarterback focuses inward when asked to evaluate a season that he began in the starting lineup and ended elsewhere.
“Even if I’m not playing on Saturday, there are still lots of opportunities to get better and just be the best Jeff that I can be,” Lindquist said after the Huskies’ practice at Chaparral High School on Tuesday afternoon, “so that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
He’s done it in several different ways, few of which have included lining up as a traditional, drop-back quarterback. That’s where he was, though, when the Huskies began the Chris Petersen era on Aug. 30 at Hawaii. With Cyler Miles serving a one-game suspension, Lindquist and redshirt freshman Troy Williams battled throughout the spring and fall for the Day 1 starting job, and Lindquist’s decision-making won out.
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It was a forgettable debut. Lindquist, a 6-foot-3, 246-pound Mercer Island native, showed off his arm strength on a perfectly-thrown, 91-yard touchdown pass to speedy receiver John Ross in the first half, but otherwise struggled with his accuracy: He completed only 10 of his 26 pass attempts that day for 162 yards, and the Huskies barely won, 17-16.
Miles took over as the Huskies’ starting quarterback the following week. And when a concussion knocked him out of UW’s game at Oregon and forced Miles to miss the next week’s game against Arizona State, it was Williams, not Lindquist, who relieved him.
But Petersen and UW’s coaching staff think — and speak — highly of Lindquist, a dedicated business student who teammates say provides an uplifting presence and does what is asked of him. So Petersen and offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith find ways to get him on the field.
During UW’s 42-14 victory over Georgia State, Lindquist stepped in at quarterback for a package of wildcat-style plays designed for him to run the ball. He carried three times for 35 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Lindquist has also entered the game on occasion to throw a deep ball, something at which he excels and Miles does not. In the Apple Cup game against Washington State, Lindquist threw what should have been a 58-yard touchdown pass that bounced off Ross’ hands. He also completed a 26-yard pass on a fake punt attempt that was wiped out due to an illegal formation penalty.
His unique involvement in the Huskies’ offense is vintage Petersen. Throughout his eight-year tenure as Boise State’s head coach, Petersen was known for installing specific packages of plays for players who otherwise might not get into the game, if only to keep them more engaged during the week and give them something to look forward to on Saturday.
Lindquist has also appeared on UW’s punt team and serves as the holder on field goals and point-after-touchdown attempts.
Smith said that mentally, Lindquist has “always been in it. Always been ready. We’ve done some small things with him in packages, because he’s been such a good teammate and stayed so involved and dialed in. He watches a ton of film. He’s an awesome kid. He’s a big part of our team.”
Smith said he needs to improve his accuracy and gain a better feel for the Huskies’ offensive system to have a chance to compete with Miles again for the starting quarterback job.
“His completion percentage is awesome during practice,” said junior receiver Jaydon Mickens, who joked earlier in the season that Lindquist’s biggest problem was throwing the ball too hard. “Next time he gets his opportunity, I believe he’s going to do better.”
Whenever and however that opportunity comes — perhaps, in some form, during Friday’s Cactus Bowl game against Oklahoma State — Lindquist vows to be ready.
“Obviously I’d like to be out there playing every snap, but it’s life and that’s the situation I put myself in,” he said. “I’m just out here to help the team. Whatever happens, happens. As long as we get wins, that’s what is important.”
Smith joked that John Ross, who began the season as a receiver and is now playing cornerback, will be approached by UW’s coaching staff during the offseason as if he were a free agent with a decision to make: offense or defense. “He’s going to be like LeBron James,” Smith said. “He’s going to come in and hear from us. Then he’s going to hear from the defensive side. Then Coach Pete will come in and tell him what he’s got to do.” … Senior receiver Kasen Williams said he’ll return home after the Cactus Bowl for “about four hours” before traveling to Thousand Oaks, California, where he will train in preparation for the NFL draft. Williams will also play in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Jan. 17. He will arrive there on Jan. 10. “I’m going to get as many workouts in as I can before that,” Williams said, “and we’re going to make the people remember what my name is.”