HONOLULU – As debuts go, paradise is a good place to start.
Hawaii, with its teal ocean and shoreline rainbows, looks like a perfect setting for Chris Petersen to make his Washington coaching debut. And the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, coming off a 1-11 season, look like the perfect opponent for the Huskies to break in a new quarterback.
Petersen, though, isn’t expecting perfection out of his team or out of sophomore Jeff Lindquist, who makes his starting debut at quarterback for the Huskies on Saturday at Aloha Stadium (7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network).
“I think we know it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is, you’re not going to be perfect,” Petersen said. “You’re not going to make every play. And I think we all understand that.”
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No. 1 on the list of the many questions for UW’s new coaching staff this year was finding a replacement for three-year starting quarterback Keith Price, who graduated as the program’s all-time leader in touchdown passes. Complicating matters was the suspension of sophomore Cyler Miles, the favorite to succeed Price.
This, then, is the perfect opportunity for a 20-year-old Mercer Island kid who grew up idolizing former UW quarterback Jake Locker.
“Unfortunately,” Lindquist said, “I’m not as fast as he is. That would be great; it would make life a lot easier.”
Lindquist started coming to UW games when he was 6 or 7 years old with his dad, Tom. For years, Lindquist and his older brother, Sam, would trade off sharing the family’s two season tickets. Five years ago, Lindquist was sitting in the second deck at Husky Stadium when Locker led the Huskies to a 16-13 upset of No. 3 USC.
“I was going berserk like the other 75,000 people in that stadium,” Lindquist recalled. “That was something special.”
Starting Saturday, Lindquist finally gets his chance to make some memories in a role he’d always hoped to have.
The 6-foot-3, 246-pound dual-threat quarterback won the starting job over redshirt freshman Troy Williams. With Miles suspended for the opener, Lindquist gets the stage to prove that the job should be his beyond the first week.
“I’m going to try and be the best point guard I can be, get the ball to guys and let them go to work,” Lindquist said. “If I have to throw a deep ball I’ll do it, and if I have to run and get some tough yards I can do that, too.”
Lindquist’s optimistic outlook, Petersen said, is one thing that has impressed coaches and teammates.
“He’s always the same, and same positive, optimistic way,” Petersen said. “Whether he makes a bad play, he wants to hear us, he still wants to be coached. Half the time we’re in his ear when things don’t go just right, he already knows it, but he’s still willing to listen. He gets an opportunity, he’s not over the top. If it doesn’t go well, he’s not going to go in the tank. I think we all appreciate that about him.”
Since the spring, Lindquist said the one area he’s worked on most is his throwing accuracy. Junior receiver Jaydon Mickens said Lindquist has improved most in this throwing touch. Lindquist has a strong arm, but he has started to understand how to best use that strong arm based on the various throws he has to make.
“Every ball didn’t have to be 100 miles per hour,” Mickens said. “If we’re running a bubble screen, you don’t have to jet it out there — just a nice, easy catch and let us go. We’ll take care of the rest.”
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.