Chris Petersen is not giving up on Cyler Miles.
Parsing Petersen’s words during his Monday press conference, that was the gist — that despite a 15 for 29 passing performance that yielded just 98 yards in a 20-13 loss to Stanford, Miles, a third-year sophomore, is not solely at fault. And one lousy outing will not cost him his job as Washington’s starting quarterback.
Petersen didn’t come right out and say that, specifically. But when he was asked about the idea of rotating quarterbacks, he replied: “I’m open to whatever, (but) I don’t like that at all. I think we’ve got to get our quarterback more time, we’ve got to coach him better, see if he can progress. That’s what I really feel at this time.”
There was plenty of blame to share for Washington’s dud of an offensive performance Saturday, Petersen said. The Huskies managed just 179 yards of total offense and only 2.6 yards per play, and Miles often ran from the pocket — whether because of defensive pursuit or pure impatience — to avoid a persistent Cardinal pass rush. Stanford still sacked him four times, and hit him more than that.
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Petersen said Miles “needs time” to learn how to read defenses and process his progression on each play, and repeated a few times that he needs to be coached better. That’s one of several things the Huskies will aim to shore up during their bye week before an Oct. 11 game at California (3 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
And it isn’t as if Miles has been terrible. In four starts this season, the product from Centennial, Colorado, is 63 for 100 (63 percent) passing for 623 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions, in addition to 115 yards rushing (including yardage lost on sacks) and three touchdowns.
His backup, third-year sophomore Jeff Lindquist, started UW’s opener at Hawaii — Miles was serving a suspension — and completed only 10 of 26 passes. He’s been used only in specific offensive packages since. Troy Williams, a redshirt freshman, is UW’s third-string quarterback. He hasn’t attempted a collegiate pass.
Miles’ arm strength and decision making have been called into question after a handful of plays in which he appeared to have a receiver open and didn’t throw it to him, or appeared to be able to step up in the pocket but chose to scramble and throw the ball away instead.
“Sometimes with the protection, he had to flush,” Petersen said of Miles’ tough game against Stanford, adding that he never considered taking him out of the game. “Certainly there were other times where it’s like, ‘Stay in there, throw the ball.’ There were times where he stood in there, threw the ball really to the wrong guy. He was getting off his No. 1 (receiver) too soon and going to No. 2 and didn’t need to do that. So we really need to go back to kind of square one and re-teach these read progressions and get him calmed down, and we’ll make progress.”
Part of the problem Saturday, Petersen said, was the Huskies’ inability to run the ball. They rushed 38 times for 81 yards against Stanford, which through four games has allowed a total of 26 points.
“The whole offense needs to be designed to make the quarterback successful,” Petersen said. “So how can we do that? Well, we’ve got to run the ball. It starts there. And all of a sudden it’s a little easier to play quarterback when you can do some of those things.”
And changing quarterbacks seems to be viewed by Petersen as something of a last resort.
“Nobody wants to do that,” he said. “I had one year (at Boise State) we had to do that a little bit. It’s a struggle and it’s painful. So you don’t like to do that. But sometimes it can help a guy. It really can. You take him out, somebody goes in, a whole different set of eyes, the guy can calm down a little bit, put him back in the next game, the next quarter, whatever it is. That’s hard to do. You really would love to not have to do that. We’ll see.”
UW’s Oct. 11 game at California will kick off at 3 p.m. and air on the Pac-12 Network. … Petersen again took blame for calling a fake punt on fourth-and-9 from UW’s 47-yard line midway through the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game, saying “I’ll reiterate again how poor it was of a call on my part on that fake punt. That won’t happen again.” But he added that he still plans to take risks from time to time, even if they don’t always work. … Offensively, Petersen said, the coaches have “implemented too much, to tell you the truth. The execution, we’re not quite there. So that’s where we need to go back and clean some things up.”