Post-Spring Review: Quarterbacks

Starting Wednesday, will be breaking down all the position groups to see where the Washington Huskies stand after the first 15 practices of the Chris Petersen Era. Of course we have to start with the quarterbacks. They always get the most attention and are endlessly scrutinized, so here we go!

5 Jeff Lindquist - So. OR
3 Troy Williams - RFr. OR
10 Cyler Miles - So.

What did they do in the spring? - With Cyler Miles out due to a violation of team rules, the quarterback position was as thin as could be. In fact, the position was so stretched for personnel, Damon Huard was often used to throw to the receivers as an extra quarterback during individual periods.

Petersen made a point of it many times with the media during spring football that the Huskies are behind the other Pac-12 teams, and it's not their fault - it's the coaches' fault. They are the ones late to the party and upsetting the team's routine they learned under Steve Sarkisian. In many ways, UW Spring Football was as much for the coaches to learn about the players as the players learning about their new coaches.

New Offensive Coordinator Jonathan Smith talked about the rate of installation at the end of spring as roughly half the playbook - not bad, but he also said that they'll continue to add in the fall and obviously tweak things every week depending on the opponent.

"I think we got a lot of the core things we needed to get in and that was our goal this spring," Smith said.

Spring was also about making sure the players bought into what the team was doing. Watching Lindquist and Williams to gauge buy-in was easy, because they both worked their tails off to improve on a daily basis. It was also very important that they get a lot of reps to begin with, as they barely received any meaningful time with the first team last year. Typically they were preparing the defense through the service team.

Lindquist certainly had a great spring preview, the last practice of spring. He threw four touchdown passes and overall had a more effective day than Williams. But that one practice doesn't tell the tale of the entire spring and the library of film on both players in terms of their improvement. Both improved, but both still have substantial steps they need to take in order to realize their full potential as starting quarterbacks.

Where does the position stand heading into the summer? - Looking at the depth chart the way it should have been looking as the team headed toward spring before Miles' suspension, Washington fans would undoubtedly be pleased with the amount of progress made and work put it by Lindquist and Williams. Both quarterbacks are most definitely well ahead of where they were two months ago.

But that doesn't include Miles, and he has been the $64 question ever since he was accused of assault during a post Super Bowl bonfire near campus and subsequently suspended from the team. The police decided not to file charges, but Miles - the sophomore from Denver - isn't out of the woods yet. The school has yet to rule on whether they plan to levy punishment on him or receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow for what transpired that Sunday.

Word came out Friday through former UW Head Coach Rick Neuheisel - now an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks - that Miles has been meeting with Smith to learn the new offense. If true, and there's no reason not to believe Neuheisel at this point, it suggests the UW coaches are confident Miles will be with them in the fall.

Petersen had a chance to update the status on both Miles and Stringfellow after Saturday's Spring Preview. This was his answer: "We'll figure that out when we get through spring ball and when I get to talk to you guys again in August, I'll have something for you guys and gals."

His answer suggests upper campus still has their work to go through, and then Petersen still has his discipline to mete out before the two stand a chance to rejoin the team. However, both Miles and Stringfellow were at the Spring Preview of their own accord, which is also evidence to suggest the two are hungry to re-connect with the team and are on their way back.

If Miles returns, and Neuheisel's tutoring story is accurate, then he has a fighting chance to turn the fall quarterback battle into a three-way joust. I'm sure via social media word will leak out during the summer whether or not the two have been working out in the PRP's (player-run practices), so the chances fans will actually have to wait all the way until August to hear from Petersen regarding their status is unlikely. That doesn't include the idea of whether or not the two will face any game suspensions and the like, so that's one big part of the puzzle we won't know about until Petersen is ready to reveal his intentions.

If I had to guess on that question, I wouldn't be shocked at all if Miles and Stringfellow missed at least a game, maybe more. That would influence the quarterbacking dynamics in terms of who would be running the PRP's and who are the ones that should be realistically getting ready for the Hawaii opener. So if Miles is reinstated that's obviously the best news, but if it's watered down somewhat by the fact that he's out for at least the first game that alters not only how the coaches move going forward, but also how the players prepare.

Cyler would be doubly-penalized; he's already well behind because of the number of reps he missed during the first 15 practices, and now he'll only be getting minimal reps during fall camp because the coaches will be focused on getting Lindquist, Williams, and incoming frosh K.J. Carta-Samuels. If anything, his value leading into the first game week will be as a service player.

Again, this is all based on a suspension scenario, one likely given the nature of the original suspension handed down by Petersen. We can also look to recent history to see how Steve Sarkisian dealt with Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kasen Williams as a guide to know that suspensions may be treated given their run-ins with the law.

What to look for in the fall - Not to be a smart-aleck, but Cyler Miles is the first thing UW fans should look for - literally. Again, I expect word of his participation with the team PRP's to leak out in the summer; that's going to be hard for the UW staff to contain. But once Petersen makes his status with the team official in August, then fans will know exactly where the sophomore signal-caller stands and what he has to do to earn back his active status.

After that, it'll all be about how far behind he is in his development in the new Washington offense, as well as how far Lindquist and Williams progressed in the summer based on their work during spring. If Miles is suspended for the Hawaii game, this second question will be of paramount importance.

Every UW coach has talked about how they will be meeting with the players in their respective rooms after spring to recap what went right, what went wrong, and what they need to work on during the summer when the coaches can't be around to teach. Each coach will give the players keys to focus on - not many, just a couple that they can master through repetition - and if they come back for fall camp improved in those few areas they'll be that much better off.

Petersen has said many times there are two things he needs from every quarterback he signs; they have to be great decision makers, and they have to be accurate passers. We've already seen by Miles' actions off the field that his decision making is at least in question. He will have a metric ton to prove in showing to the new UW staff - coaches that did not recruit him - that he's capable of leading the offense.

For Lindquist and Williams, they are well ahead of Miles in every facet of development at this time. That could change a lot in fall camp, but I doubt it will simply because I believe a suspension for Miles is likely in the cards. This will affect everything going forward. They have to be quicker decision makers and much more accurate in their throws. Not sure what they can do in the summer about the decision making aspect of the equation, other than through chalk talks, diagnosing plays with mental reps watching film, etc…

The accuracy thing can be worked on diligently over the summer with the receivers, and given the work ethic of both Lindquist and Williams I suspect they'll try their hardest to throw their arms out trying to get better in the key areas laid out by Smith in their post-spring clean-up meetings. Again, Smith won't try and put a bunch on them; just a couple of mechanical things - much like a golf instructor would advise a client with a couple of swing thoughts before they head to the course. Hopefully in the fall, those 'swing thoughts' will show up right away, allowing Smith to go right into the schematics of the offense and getting his quarterbacks prepared to run the full arsenal of UW's new attack.

Having Miles there will certainly give Smith some opportunities to mix and match, but like he was with Lindquist and Williams this spring, fall will be the first Chance Smith gets to work hands-on with Miles. There will be a steep learning curve involved for both parties, and that won't stop with the Hawaii game. If anything, that curve could be ramped up substantially after the opener, especially if suspension limits what the coaches do with Miles simply from a pragmatic standpoint. If they can't use him August 30th, he won't be getting the bulk of their attention in fall camp. Top Stories