The furthest Chris Petersen would go in criticizing his young quarterbacks was to say that they made some “questionable” decisions and had “questionable” accuracy during the first two weeks of Washington’s fall camp.
The Huskies’ first-year coach then quickly changed direction.
“It’s not all on the quarterbacks,” Petersen said. “We’ve got some young receivers who need to perform better. We’re all in this together.”
The positive approach from UW’s new coaching staff isn’t lost on sophomore Jeff Lindquist, one of three quarterbacks vying to be the Huskies’ starting quarterback for the 2014 season.
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“They look for the bright spots to emphasize, rather than just harp on the negatives,” Lindquist said after Saturday’s final public scrimmage at Husky Stadium. “So as a player, when you’re being praised for the good plays, you want to replicate those. So they’re tremendously positive.”
In the first 10 days of camp, UW’s defense dominated the offense throughout. In the first scrimmage last Monday, the defense created four turnovers, two of which it returned for touchdowns.
That, Petersen said, is a credit to a defensive front that returns six full-time starters. The inconsistent play of UW’s young quarterbacks was a considerable factor, too. For the first week of camp, it seemed every good from the quarterbacks was countered by two bad ones.
After Saturday’s scrimmage, though, UW coaches will have more ammunition for their positive reinforcement in the quarterbacks’ meeting room with Lindquist, sophomore Cyler Miles and redshirt freshman Troy Williams.
Lindquist, in particular, appeared to have his best day, unofficially completing 7 of 15 passes for 84 yards. He orchestrated the two best drives of the day — the first capped by Dwayne Washington’s 23-yard touchdown run, and the second ending with Jesse Callier’s 5-yard TD run.
And, of most importance to Petersen, Lindquist didn’t commit a turnover.
“Things are starting to flow a little bit,” said Lindquist, the third-year sophomore from Mercer Island.
Miles, suspended for the Aug. 30 season opener at Hawaii, had a productive day, too, completing 10 of 16 for 145 yards. He didn’t have any turnovers, either.
Williams, the redshirt freshman, was 7 of 14 for 36 yards and threw the only interception of the day. That pass was picked off by linebacker Sean Constantine, who later recovered a fumbled handoff between Williams and Callier at the goal line.
Two things Petersen continues to harp on about his quarterbacks: accuracy and decision-making.
“You can’t turn the ball over,” he said.
Jonathan Smith, UW’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, reiterated that there is no timeline for a decision on who will start against Hawaii — Lindquist or Williams — but added that “we’re getting closer.”
UW freshman have not been made available for interviews, per team policy, so Williams hasn’t spoken to the media since the end of spring. Lindquist, though, said he has gained confidence in himself and in the new offensive system.
“It’s been big,” Lindquist said. “Because when you feel comfortable with yourself and with your capabilities, there’s a lot less thinking involved. For me, that’s grown a ton since I got here as a true freshman, and even from the spring.”
Miles will be eligible to return to the field Week 2 against Eastern Washington. It’s likely that Lindquist and Williams will be taking more of the reps in practice as the Hawaii game approaches.
“You can make a case for all those guys (to start),” Petersen said. “You really can. It’s probably going to be splitting hairs when it comes down to it, really.”
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org