Washington football: Previewing the quarterback position

The Washington football team may only have two quarterbacks currently on the roster, but come fall that number will most likely be doubled. Furthermore, every quarterback on the roster came to UW as a top prospect, all of which were invited to ESPN’s Elite 11 camp. Talent at the position will not be hard to come by. Chris Petersen has yet to name a starter which makes the position battle this fall even more interesting and allows for much more speculation over the following months. Here is my preview of the Washington football quarterback position for the 2014-15 season.

[Expectations for Petersen and Washington football]

Cyler Miles (6-foot-4, 217-pounds) RS Sophomore

If anything was learned this spring, it’s that the gap between Miles and the other quarterbacks on the roster is sizable. That isn’t to say that Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams aren’t talented, but the skills Miles showed off in spot work late last season make him a special type of player that not many can match. Unfortunately for Miles and company, off-field issues in February have jeopardized his future. For more on what I think about Miles’ off-field issues, read here.

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Miles and Stringfellow showcased chemistry that proved to be nearly unstoppable last season. Credit: Seattle Times

Petersen understands the importance of early success at his new job. If the view from his new office, recently renovated stadium, and plump new paycheck weren’t enough to alert him to the added pressure, I am sure the increase in media exposure since he left Boise has opened Petersen’s eyes.

Miles helps insure that Petersen finds early success. Miles has the size, speed, and strength to be an elite college quarterback. More important than that, he is the only quarterback on the roster with real game experience.

The huskies’ schedule this year features the likes of Stanford and Oregon in two of the first three conference games. Having a quarterback with experience would greatly improve the Huskies’ chances of success early in the conference schedule. Petersen will have time to get the guys experience early when the huskies face four beatable (beatable being a generous term) opponents in non-conference play.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Miles serves a four game suspension, at most, and is back ready to play in time for Stanford. Taking at least one, if not two, games away from the PAC-12 north’s toughest opponents should be Petersen’s primary objective this season. Having a quarterback with experience against quality PAC-12 competition will go a long way in achieving that.

Jeff Lindquist (6-foot-3, 240-pounds) RS Sophomore

A local product from Mercer Island, Lindquist found himself taking a lot of first team snaps this spring with Miles suspended. While it should be noted that Lindquist primarily faced second team defense during the spring scrimmage, he showed some signs of major improvement since last season.

He completed 11 of 15 passes for 134 yards and 4 touchdowns during live scrimmage.

Earlier I said that Lindquist had not shown me the type of arm strength I would expect from someone his size and that he didn’t posses speed out of the pocket. Lindquist proved that both of those aspects of his game have improved under the new coaching staff. Lindquist had one pass in particular where he stepped up and threw a dart to Jaydon Mickens over the middle for roughly a 25 yard gain. The accuracy of the pass and the zip with which it was thrown was something that I figured Lindquist possessed, yet I had not witnessed it personally until this years’ spring preview.

More impressively, Lindquist showed some signs of speed and agility out of the pocket which are essential at the college level. While Lindquist may not have the speed to be electrifying out the pocket, he proved that he has the ability to escape the pocket and salvage two or three yards on otherwise ineffective plays. Miles still looks to be the most polished quarterback of the group, but Lindquist proved this spring that he isn’t as far behind as I previously thought.

Troy Williams (6-foot-2, 199-pounds) RS Freshman

The other quarterback on the roster for spring, Williams showed some moments of promise during the spring preview. Tasked with facing the huskies first team defense all day, Williams struggled to find his grove like Lindquist did. He completed 11 of 18 passes for 38 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. One of those incompletions being a beautifully thrown streak that bounced off Mickens’ finger tips and probably would have resulted in a +50 yard touchdown.

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Williams and Lindquist both saw extensive playing time this spring. Credit: Seattle Times

While the numbers don’t jump off the page, they are indicative of the positive direction of the position. Williams was facing relentless pressure from the huskies front four, including Hau’oli Kikaha seemingly walking his way into the backfield every other play. Despite the suspect blocking, second team wide receivers, and exceptional defensive back play by the first team, Williams proved that he is developing the ability to manage the game and avoid turnovers.

Williams’ game changing athleticism is well known. The huskies now have a defense that should keep them in every game. Pairing a dominating defense with a quarterback who can make smart, error free decisions, as well as make timely, explosive plays has been a proven formula for success for the Seattle Seahawks. If the huskies want to contend for a Rose Bowl, finding a quarterback who can do that will be a necessity.

If Williams can consistently make smart decisions, his athleticism should begin to speak for itself and give him a real chance to contend for snaps in 2014.

K.J Carta-Saumuels (6-foot-2, 207-pounds) Freshman

Another impressive signing from Coach Petersen in his first go, Carta-Samuels fell to the huskies after James Franklin left Vanderbilt for Penn State, causing Carta-Samuels to reopen his recruitment. Although he played in a double wing offense in high school which primarily ran the ball, Carta-Samuels showed that he is a capable passer.

He has a strong arm and a fluid throwing motion. His size and willingness to put his nose down remind me of a young Jake Locker back during his Ferndale days. Like with all the quarterbacks on the roster, Miles’ future with the team will go a long way in deciding what will be done with Carta-Samuels in 2014. Most likely he will be redshirted and will provide depth and excitement at the position for the next few years.

However, I won’t completely count out the possibility he starts this year. If Petersen takes a firm stand and severely punishes Miles, Carta-Samuels could find himself in a truly open competition this fall. Petersen’s willingness to not name a starter and claim the position is “wide open” may indicate that he doesn’t want to make a decision until Miles is reinstated. It could also point to the fact that he hasn’t found a quarterback that he trusts to be his guy.

Lindquist and Williams are probably too talented to be passed over by a raw, incoming freshman. Yet, if Petersen doesn’t fall in love with any of the guys currently on the roster, it wouldn’t be surprising if he decided to go with his first signing at quarterback as the Washington football coach, truly ushering in the start of the Chris Petersen era.

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