HONOLULU — A win was about all Chris Petersen got in his coaching debut with No. 25 Washington. Questions about the Huskies’ offense will continue into next week after Saturday night’s 17-16 victory at Hawaii.
Jeff Lindquist completed just 10 passes while filling in for a suspended Cyler Miles, earning most of his yards on one long play. Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington split carries in a mediocre rushing game. And Washington punted on eight of nine possessions in the second half, every one except its final snaps to run out the clock.
“We didn’t play nearly as well as we think we can play,” said Petersen, who left Boise State to take over Washington. “I think it’s going to be a big wake-up call.”
John Ross scored on a reverse and a 91-yard catch, and Washington held off the Rainbow Warriors despite giving Hawaii repeated chances for the upset.
“It was real frustrating,” Ross said. “People might think I’m pleased with my first-half performance, but I’m not because we left so many points on the field, but we have to get better and we will.”
Lindquist threw for 162 yards in his first start for Washington. Miles was suspended for the game for his role in an offseason fight.
But most of Lindquist’s total came on the big play to Ross. He was 3 for 15 in the second half for 28 yards.
Asked whether he thought he did enough to earn another start, Lindquist said it’s up to Petersen and the other coaches.
“Obviously I want to do my best to help this team wherever I can, whether that’s starting or whether that’s supporting people from the sideline, but the cards fell how they did today and I want to see where that puts me next week,” he said.
Petersen said he would make a decision early next week.
Hawaii managed two field goals for the only scoring in the second half. It finished with 424 yards of offense.
“We had our chances both offensively and defensively,” Hawaii coach Norm Chow said. “We played with a lot of energy, which I thought we would.”
Washington’s defense improved after struggling early and spotting Hawaii a 10-0 lead on its first two possessions. The Rainbow Warriors lost the advantage in one quick second-quarter burst, turning the ball over on downs and then allowing the Huskies’ second-longest pass play in school history.
Hawaii’s Joey Iosefa rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown. Coleman had 78 yards rushing for Washington.
Both of Washington’s touchdowns came after Hawaii mistakes. First, Hawaii’s Ne’Quan Phillips lowered his right shoulder and hit Lindquist in the chest well after a throw on a fourth-and-9 play, setting up Ross’ 20-yard reverse for the first Huskies touchdown.
Hawaii turned the ball over on downs later in the first half on a trick play, with Marcus Kemp throwing a pass on a reverse that fluttered 2 yards short of tight end Harold Moleni in the end zone.
On the next play, Lundquist threw the ball 55 yards in the air to Ross, who covered the rest of the field himself. It was the longest play for Washington (1-0) since Jake Locker connected with Marcel Reece in 2007 for 98 yards.
The Rainbow Warriors (0-1) missed another chance to tie the game or get closer just before halftime when Ikaika Woolsey overthrew Kemp streaking toward the end zone, and then Tyler Hadden missed a 40-yard field goal off the left upright.
Woolsey threw for 207 yards while running a scheme that included several trick plays. Iosefa had a 1-yard TD on Hawaii’s first possession.
Petersen was hired by Washington in December after eight seasons in charge at Boise State, where he compiled a 92-12 record, made bowl games each year and finished in the rankings six times.