By Christian Caple The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Washington’s quarterback competition has been settled.
For now, anyway.
Jeff Lindquist, a third-year sophomore and Mercer Island native, will start the Huskies’ Aug. 30 season opener at Hawaii, coach Chris Petersen announced Friday afternoon.
Lindquist, who appeared in three games in 2013 in mop-up duty, beat out redshirt freshman Troy Williams for the starting nod. Third-year sophomore Cyler Miles, the Huskies’ most experienced quarterback, is suspended for the Hawaii game.
Some have anticipated that Miles might end up the starting quarterback in Week 2 for UW’s Sept. 6 home opener against Eastern Washington. But Petersen will wait until after the Hawaii game to re-evaluate his personnel.
For now, Lindquist is the guy.
“This is that fine line that we spoke about probably weeks and months ago that hey, Jeff’s going to go, and he’s going to get a good opportunity to go,” Petersen said. “We don’t want anybody looking over their shoulder, but a guy’s got to go produce. After this game, after the first game, we’ll kind of re-evaluate and see where we are, and go from there, and they all know that.”
Through 15 spring practices and three weeks of fall camp, Lindquist emerged as the Huskies’ most responsible decision-maker. Eliminating turnovers is one of Petersen’s biggest priorities for his batch of young quarterbacks, and he said Lindquist best accomplished that.
Plus, Linndquist is listed at 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds, and runs well enough to carry the ball on occasion.
“I do think he’s throwing the ball a little more accurately,” Petersen said. “I think he knows where to go with the ball. He’s done a good job of not forcing the ball, making too many critical errors. We’re going to throw an interception on occasion. We’re going to fumble. We know that. We’ve just got to try to reduce those and minimize them. I think at this point right now, going in eight days out, he’s the guy that’s going to get the opportunity, and I’m excited to see him go.”
There also is the question of whether Williams might see the field some, too, provided the Huskies build a big enough lead to remove their starters in the second half. That might be a difficult balance, deciding between letting Lindquist get comfortable and get as many game repetitions as possible, or allowing Williams to get a taste of live action, too. Neither has attempted a pass in a college game, and Williams has never played.
“These guys all need to be ready to roll,” Petersen said. “They need to be ready to play. As far as we’ve gone, ‘Jeff, let’s go. Get ready to go. Troy, be ready.’ And we’ll figure it out as we go.”
A standout at Mercer Island High School, Lindquist was a four-star recruit and ranked by Scout.com as the No. 8 quarterback prospect in the 2012 recruiting class. As a high-school senior, he threw for 1,916 yards and 22 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He rushed for 826 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Lindquist was not made available to reporters on Friday. But he said after last Saturday’s open scrimmage that consistency would be key to winning the starting job.
“Show what you can do,” he said, “and do it every day.”
And now, too, at Hawaii.
Petersen said junior receiver Jaydon Mickens will start as the team’s punt returner, while sophomore receiver John Ross will get first crack at returning kickoffs. … Dwayne Washington and Lavon Coleman each will get plenty of opportunities at running back, Petersen said, though he added Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper also will get carries.