By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE – Chris Petersen didn’t expect many starting positions to get resolved during his first spring practice as the Huskies’ coach.
That makes Washington’s quarterback situation at the end of the spring on schedule though indefinitely inconclusive: a status quo of Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams as passers 1 and 1A and suspended Cyler Miles’ status still to be determined “down the road.”
The Huskies ended their 13th of 15 spring practices Tuesday morning in the same way they will likely end spring drills Saturday afternoon. They aren’t much closer to knowing who will replace graduated record-setter Keith Price at quarterback this fall.
An investigative television news reporter made a rare visit to practice Tuesday for the spring’s final morning drills. That meant a fresh round of questions on what may become of Miles. The presumed starting quarterback who replaced the injured Price in two games last season plus wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow remain suspended following an alleged assault near the UW campus in early February.
Miles has not been charged. The Seattle Times reports Stringfellow was charged with three gross misdemeanors and is scheduled for arraignment in King County District Court on Wednesday.
"Same as it’s been since day one," Petersen said when asked about the status of his passers. "We’ve got two quarterbacks that are competing their tails off. And there’s no change with Cyler right now."
"Despite the fact of Cyler not being charged?" Petersen was asked.
"Absolutely," the coach said.
When asked if Miles was still a part of the team, Petersen replied: “Right now he’s not.”
As for Stringfellow, “no change with him, either.
"We are always going to do the right thing by our program; I’ve said that from the start," Petersen said. "And so we are handling it internally, and we are going to do the right thing always …"
Asked when he will make a decision on Miles’ status for the 2014 season, Petersen said: “Don’t have that timetable yet.”
The most pertinent question was the last one Petersen fielded on the matter. With Miles apparently missing all of spring practice — the final two sessions are Thursday night and Saturday — the coach was asked: “Is it safe to assume either Troy or Jeff will be your starting quarterback (this season), or will Cyler have a chance to win the job if he returns in the fall?”
"You know, we’ll answer all those questions down the road for you guys here," Petersen said. "I don’t want to go off and just answer partial ‘this, that,’ when we really haven’t set everything with that.
"When I get that answer we will answer that for you guys."
Lindquist, from the Seattle suburb of Mercer Island, appeared late in three lopsided games last season but has yet to throw a pass in a college game. The redshirt sophomore threw a deep pass Tuesday to tight end Darrell Daniels for a touchdown on a remarkable catch by the converted wide receiver.
Daniels, who made the position switch last fall, is pushing to be Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ replacement as UW’s primary pass-catching tight end this fall.
"I saw it was open safeties," Lindquist said of the highlight play, "and Darrell is a freakin’ stud."
Lindquist says his progress from the first spring practice to now has been “pretty large, for myself and everyone on the team getting comfortable with this new system and with the guys.”
"Obviously we still have a long way to go," Lindquist said "We are 13 days into our new system."
Lindquist and Williams, a redshirt freshman from Los Angeles who set city league records there, again alternated with the starting offense throughout Tuesday’s two-plus-hour practice. They have both benefited from the maximum repetitions they’ve received each practice day. Not only have they been running all the plays for the first-, second- and third-team offenses, they’ve been the only two doing quarterback coach Jonathan Smith’s throwing, drop-back, scramble and even fumble-recovery drills.
"I think I have a pretty decent grasp of the playbook so far. For me it’s getting to the point where I’m starting to just play," Lindquist said.
(Petersen has said he and Smith, the offensive coordinator, have installed about 50 percent of the playbook).
Petersen reiterated that there is evaluating going on every day. But given the fact the Huskies have just two quarterbacks using an entirely new system and calling a still-foreign language of formation, blocking and pass-route terms, this spring has been more about learning than evaluation and a determination about the two Dawgs at the most important and complex position on the field.
As Petersen said last weekend, there is no need to determine a starting quarterback right now. The opener at Hawaii is still 4 1/2 months away.
And, as the coach said Tuesday, Miles may or may not be back by then.
"I honestly think so far it’s still been (about) being comfortable. We’re still splitting reps," Lindquist said. "It’s about getting better as a group, and as individuals. The competition aspect hasn’t changed much. Still we are all trying to get better."
COACH PETE TWEETS?
Petersen had a social-media guru address the team last weekend on being smart in that tricky, fast-paced, very-public arena. Petersen did not allow Boise State’s players to be active on Twitter when he was leading the Broncos, but many Huskies have been for years.
“We are trying to educate them; that’s our job,” Petersen said. “We are still figuring that out, whether we can handle Twitter. But you take Twitter away and there are still five other things they can do.
“You know, it’s the world we live in. I’m good if they are good. If they are not good it’s going to go away. And so they’ve got to learn to do it correctly.”
Asked if the players are on a short leash with their tweets, Petersen said, “I’m more optimistic than that, that we are going to get this right.”
So will the so-far tweet-less coach himself join Twitter?
“That’s a good question,” Petersen said with a grin. “The only way I am doing that is for recruiting, so we will see.”
INSIDE THE DAWGS: Smith was back with his wife in Boise, Idaho, awaiting the possible early birth of a child. That meant Petersen, a former quarterback at UC Davis, was drilling Lindquist and Williams individually for the first time on Tuesday. The head man joked he may have come off as too excited to his QBs, as if they were thinking “Easy coach, easy.”... Petersen said again that Saturday’s 1 p.m. spring game will be more like a final practice and less a full-on, simulated game. That’s because of depth issues from nicked-up and sidelined players. The players and coaches will be available at 10 a.m. on the East Field for autographs and pictures. Both that fan fest and the final spring practice inside Husky Stadium are free and open to the public. … With Jesse Callier and Dwayne Washington getting over injuries and Deontae Cooper leaving practice early to attend class, redshirt freshmen Lavon Coleman and Ralph Kinne got first- and second-team time at tailback. … Redshirt freshman Keishawn Bierria got some more work with the first-team defense, at linebacker next to John Timu and Travis Feeney. Converted fullback Psalm Wooching was on the first defensive line, at end next to tackles Danny Shelton (new number 55 instead of 72) and Evan Hudson.