Spring Preview - Quarterbacks

First-year Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen hasn't coached one snap of Pac-12 football yet, but Coach Pete is already taking a page out of Steve Sarkisian's playbook. Petersen is following Sark's spring football blueprint, starting workouts in the beginning of March, taking a mid-camp break for academics, and then coming back to finish up in mid-April.

Washington's annual spring game will take place April 19.

To that end, we are taking a position-by-position look at where the Huskies are as they head into spring football under a new staff and new ways of thinking. First up, the quarterbacks.
10 Cyler Miles - 6-4, 213 So. Centennial, CO (Mullen)
5 Jeff Lindquist - 6-3, 236 So. Mercer Island, WA (Mercer Island)
3 Troy Williams - 6-2, 200 RFr. Los Angeles, CA (Narbonne)

Departing Players: 1 (Keith Price)

Incoming This Fall: 1 (K.J. Carta-Samuels)

Where the position stands: Trying to find a replacement for Keith Price will be easier said than done. The senior from Compton, Calif. set 11 Washington passing records and had more career wins than any other Husky quarterback in the last three decades. That's a resume that won't be easily filled.

One thing Petersen, as well as new Quarterbacks Coach Jonathan Smith, expects out of their quarterbacks is intelligence. The game plan is going to be based on what the quarterback can handle, plain and simple. In that sense he's got three nice pieces to work with in Miles, Lindquist and Williams - all smart kids. Despite the unknown of not having a sure-fire starter returning like Price, one could argue the position has never been in a healthier position when talking about potential and promise for a real position battle in the spring.

How will Petersen's offensive philosophy affect the competition?: One thing I think is safe to assume as Petersen takes over for his first spring at Washington - whatever he did at Boise schematically will stay in Boise. Specifically the Pistol, the offense he ran the last two years at BSU under offensive coordinator Robert Prince.

That doesn't mean the core philosophy changes. Petersen will still value possession, run the ball first and use plenty of disguise in the passing game. But I think the Pistol experiment will be mothballed.

Who has the edge: Given the above, does that core philosophy tip the scales in any one player's favor? Not really. Conventional wisdom would suggest Miles has the lead going into spring simply due to the fact that he is the only one coming back with any playing experience. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound sophomore from Colorado played in eight games in 2013, including his first start - at Oregon State. All he did there was lead the offense to the most points scored on the road by a Washington team (69) since 1929, when the Huskies traveled to the College of Puget Sound and thumped them 77-0.

A teaching moment for coach Pete? - The starting spot won't be just handed to Miles, and for many reasons. First, we have no idea if he's even going to be playing spring football. Miles, along with sophomore receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow, have been indefinitely suspended for violation of team rules pending the outcome of an investigation on an alleged assault that took place on Super Bowl Sunday. Secondly, even if he was cleared in time for spring football, Miles would be competing for the spot just like anyone else would because what he did last year will be of little concern to a new offensive staff. Whoever ends up being Washington's starting quarterback for their August 30th season opener at Hawaii will have won the job on its merits through a position battle that starts right now.

What happens with Miles and Stringfellow will be an early litmus test as to whether or not the players recruited to Montlake by Sarkisian can be Petersen's OKG's - Our Kinda Guys. The acronym symbolizes Petersen's whole approach to finding talent and recruiting the best possible student-athletes into his organization. Petersen doesn't focus as much on actual football ability as he does intangibles. In his mind, they have to be good players, but if they are phenomenal in all other aspects that's what he needs to be able to turn simply good players into great players.

Petersen uses words like Accountability, Unity, and Integrity as the foundation of his core philosophy. While waiting for the legal process to play out, Petersen may draw his own conclusions about what took place that Sunday and determine that the offending players don't have the makeup to be OKG's. Or, he may use this as a teaching moment for the whole team as to expectations, as well as a 'clean slate' for everyone on the team, and that obviously will include the signal-callers, regardless of what they've done up to this point in their careers.

For the fans, the best-case scenario would be for Miles and Stringfellow to stay on the team, but get a giant dollop of Petersen's wrath to hammer home how an OKG is supposed to carry themselves as vital members of the program. In short, he needs to set an example now so they can do the same when it comes to their time to lead the team in the fall. How he goes about doing that - continue the suspension through spring ball, etc… - expect the punishment to be handled in-house, as it was with Sarkisian.

Who should step up?: If Miles isn't cleared for spring, the position battle takes a most interesting turn. The expected incumbent is gone, opening things up for both Lindquist and Williams to grab hold of the job heading into summer workouts.

Lindquist certainly fits the same mold physically of past Boise State quarterbacks like Jared Zabransky, and if can we assume nothing has changed character-wise in the former Mercer Island star, Jeff certainly seems to also fit the mold of a Petersen OKG.

The same can be said of Williams, who might be the best pure quarterback prospect of them all based on fundamentals, arm strength and leadership skills.

Petersen and Smith are going to have some solid options to choose from and it should be a great competition to watch.

The Future is Bright: One major difference between Sarkisian and Petersen has shown itself in how each recruited quarterbacks. Not so much the type of quarterback or the core elements involved in finding a quarterbacking 'OKG', but in terms of numbers. Sarkisian was set on not signing a quarterback for the 2014 class, where Petersen came to Montlake in December thinking quarterback first above all else.

That was clear when he recruited Jalen Greene, a mid-year quarterback prospect from Junipero Serra in Gardena, Calif. as his first UW official visitor just a little more than a week after Petersen took the Washington job. Greene, ironically enough, flipped to USC and signed there after initially committing to Boise State, and then Washington after Petersen moved to Seattle - but the marker had been set.

Fate was smiling on the Huskies when K.J. Carta-Samuels became available in January. Carta-Samuels, who was verbally committed to Vanderbilt since the summer of 2012, opened up his recruitment when Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin moved to Penn State.

"I wanted to stay closer to home and i always grew up dreaming to play in the Pac 12," Carta-Samuels said less than two weeks later when talking about his eventual verbal commitment to Washington after a late official visit to Seattle. "The teams I grew up watching were Pac 12 teams so it's awesome to play for Washington and compete against all these great programs.

"Overall, it was just the best fit for me, with the best combination of football, academics, location and I was very comfortable with the players and the other recruits on my visit."

It would be odd to believe Carta-Samuels would be thrown into a starting position battle when he enrolls at UW during the summer LEAP program, but stranger things have happened. By then Miles may not be on the team and the position battle between Lindquist and Williams could leave Petersen, Smith, and the UW Offensive Coaching staff no closer to a starting quarterback decision - which, in turn, could put the true frosh right in the mix.

Or Miles could get cleared before spring, take control of the position battle, and make it clear that he is the man to lead the Huskies' offense going forward.

In Summary...: There's a lot of questions still out there with regard to Washington's starting quarterback position, and few answers right now. What cannot be questioned is Petersen and Smith's attention to the battle and what it means going forward. As former college quarterbacks, Petersen and Smith are keenly aware of what they are looking for and the intangibles needed to run their offense. The job description doesn't necessarily lend itself to one particular resume so far; all the available quarterbacks can handle the responsibilities.

And that's what makes this expected battle so intriguing.

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