After a lackluster offensive showing in its opener, No. 25 Washington will have a different quarterback for coach Chris Petersen’s home debut.
Cyler Miles gets the start against Eastern Washington, Petersen announced on Monday. The sophomore replaces Jeff Lindquist, who struggled to move the offense for most of Washington’s 17-16 win at Hawaii. Miles was suspended for spring camp and the season’s first game for his involvement in two assaults, reportedly of Seahawks fans, the night of the Super Bowl in February. He wasn’t charged in the incidents.
“I think he’s got a pretty good football IQ,” Petersen said at his weekly press conference. “We’ll see how this thing goes, but him not being here in the spring and so many things have changed, he can recall it real rapidly … he can put things together real quickly football-wise.”
Miles was the favorite to win the starting job before the off-field troubles. He made a spot start against Oregon State a year ago and completed 15 of 22 passes for 162 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in guiding the Huskies to a win. He also played the entire second half against UCLA and the fourth quarter of Washington’s bowl game due to an injury to starter Keith Price.
Miles takes over an offense that gained 336 yards against the Rainbow Warriors, but only 162 of which came through the air. That number is inflated thanks to a 91-yard touchdown pass from Lindquist to John Ross in the second quarter. The Huskies failed to score in the second half, and went three-and-out five times.
While Petersen said he was pleased with Lindquist’s turnover-free performance, the first-year Washington coach wants to see what Miles can bring to the table.
“I think he commands the field pretty well, I think he has a pretty good feel for what’s going on,” Petersen said. “It just comes down to decision-making and accuracy. I hope he takes a good step forward in that department for us.”
Ross, who scored both of Washington touchdowns in the opening victory, said Miles fits in well with the offensive personnel.
“It’s so different; he filled in for Keith last year and he did a great job starting,” Ross said. “Guys are used to playing with him more, and that’s why I say we got to get back to the whole chemistry thing.”
The sluggish offensive performance came as a surprise considering that was Petersen’s hallmark at Boise State. Washington’s run game never fully got established until the final minutes when Lavon Coleman rushed for 37 of his 78 yards on the Huskies’ final drive to run out the clock.
However the offense shakes out Saturday against Eastern Washington, it can take solace in knowing the defense is off to a strong start. The Huskies limited Hawaii to a pair of field goals in the second half, despite the Rainbow Warriors twice taking possession in Washington territory.
“We had the lead every time, but it was kind of a bend, don’t break defense,” linebacker John Timu said. “It’s something that we didn’t want to give them the yards … every play we want to give it our best to execute, it just happened that we kept them out of the end zone, which is great for us.”