Who's Gone (1)
Keith Price: 233-352 (66.2%), 2,966 yds, 8.43 ypa, 21 TD/6 INT, 153.25 efficiency; 82 rushes/108 yards, 1.3 ypr
There's an old saying in football that the QB gets too much credit when a team wins and too much blame when a team loses. Keith Price is a prime example of this phenomenon. No other position in the sport engenders as much scrutiny as the QB, and Price has been both praised and put-down in his record-setting career at the UW. What we can say with certainty is that his name is all over the Husky record book:
- #2 Career Passing Yards: 8,919 (#1: Cody Pickett, 10,220)
- #1 Career Pass Completion Percentage: 64.0% (#2: Damon Huard & Tom Flick, 59.7%)
- #1 Career TD Passes: 75 (#2: Cody Pickett, 55)
- #1 Career Pass Efficiency: 143.2 (#2: Damon Huard, 130.3)
There's no doubt that Price benefited from the evolution of the college game which has seen a big increase in offensive numbers. The move to the HUNH offense last year was a boon to Price's numbers, but let's give credit where credit is due - as much as the system "made" him, he fit the system well and ran it with great efficiency, ranking 19th in the country in pass efficiency.
Price had his limitations - despite glimpses here and there (most notably the Alamo Bowl), he was not a particularly mobile QB and not a significant threat with his feet. He had adequate arm strength and good accuracy, but seemed unwilling - or unable - to really attack the middle of the field with consistency. He greatly reduced his turnovers as a Senior, but he still seemed indecisive or apprehensive at times and never fully recovered from the lack of trust in his pass-protection that led to a disappointing Junior campaign.
That said, he was a charismatic kid with a million-watt smile, was a positive role-model with his work off the field and he was one of the better QB's in the country last year.
Key Returners (3)
Cyler Miles (RS-So): 37-61 (60.7%), 418 yds, 6.85 ypa, 4 TD/2 INT, 133.30 efficiency; 23 rushes/200 yards, 8.7 ypr
Jeff Lindquist (RS-So): 2 rushes/10 yards, 5.0 ypr
Troy Williams (RS-Fr): redshirted
On the plus side, the Huskies return a QB with game experience beyond just mop-up duty as Cyler Miles took over from an injured Price in the 2nd half vs. UCLA and started the following week vs. Oregon State (worth noting that both were road games) as well as finishing out the Fight Hunger Bowl when Price was again hurt. On the negative side, there was the post-Super Bowl incident that led to Miles sitting out Spring Practices for disciplinary reasons, putting him behind in learning the new playbook and getting reps with a new coaching staff.
Miles should still be considered a strong contender to be the starter this year given his experience and his attributes. He's a big but deceptively fast kid who presents a significant threat with his feet - an element that was (mostly) missing during the Price era. While his funky throwing motion robs him of arm strength, he displayed nice touch and good anticipation in his game action last year. We know accuracy and decision-making are valued above all else by Petersen, and that wold seem to bode well for Miles
Lindquist is a well-built kid at 6'3", 240 lbs. He's also a significant running threat and possesses a stronger arm than Miles. What has held him behind Miles so far has been his ability to adapt to the speed of the college game. He's a bright kid, but he struggles with over-thinking things and not trusting his instincts. This shouldn't come as a huge surprise - Lindquist was basically a one-man team at Mercer Island and was frequently facing broken plays where he had to make something happen, whereas Miles came from an elite H.S. program in Mullen H.S. and came to the UW much more prepared. Lindquist saw mop-up duty last year, and he took snaps with the #1 offense in the Spring Game, but he was unable to gain any discernible separation from Williams over the Spring.
Williams redshirted last year but turned the heads of a lot of observers with his play in practices. He possesses the best arm-strength of the group, consistently throwing a tight spiral well-suited to cut through the sometimes stormy and windy weather in Husky Stadium in late Fall. Like many young QB's, he's still learning when to take something off the fastball as well as the limits of his arm to fit throws into tight windows. While he's not a run-first guy, he's got enough wheels to keep defenses honest. Many close to the program were excited to see how he'd do this Spring and predicted he could win the job, but so far he doesn't appear to have passed Lindquist on the depth chart.
K.J. Carta-Samuels - 4*
Carta-Samuels was a late coup for Petersen on the recruiting front; after getting a commitment from Jalen Greene - a long-time target of his while at Boise State - he saw him defect to USC and Steve Sarkisian less than a month later. But when James Franklin left Vanderbilt for Penn State, that caused Carta-Samuels to re-open his recruitment and Petersen & Washington swept in quickly to close the deal, and in the process the Huskies landed their 4th straight 4-star QB prospect and yet another Elite 11 QB camp participant.
Carta-Samuels is a thickly-built QB in the mold of Lindquist and Jake Locker, and much like Locker he comes from a high school system that emphasized the run. He will likely need some time to get acclimated to Petersen's offense and the college game, and he should be afforded the opportunity to redshirt this year if everything goes well. However there is an outside shot that attrition and injury could combine to force him to see the field.
Attention is always focused on QB battles, and this may be the most intriguing QB battle at Washington in a long time when you consider all the factors. None of the QB's has significant playing experience, and the one QB with the most experience is coming off a suspension that saw him miss his first Spring Practice session under nearly an entirely new coaching staff. The two other returning QB's were unable to separate themselves in the depth chart, so it's hard to say just how far behind Miles is now that he's fully reinstated. When you also consider that Miles and Lindquist are just entering their 3rd seasons here, Williams is entering his 2nd and Carta-Samuels his first, and you can see a scenario where at least one of these highly-rated QB's ends up feeling buried on the depth chart and possibly looking to transfer. Further, you have the intrigue surrounding Miles and how well he'll reintegrate into the team. Any questions as to whether Petersen wanted him back or not would seem to have been resolved when it was revealed thathad been doing film study and playbook work with Miles during the Spring, but are there any lingering bad feelings on the team over the incident? And if one (or more) of these guys do opt to transfer, will that end up forcing Carta-Samuels into seeing the field at some point in 2014?
As with all position groups (other than TE), you also have to consider that this is a new coaching staff with new playbooks. Had Sarkisian not left, it would have been reasonable to assume that Miles was the strong front-runner to win the job; with a new staff and with Miles being behind in practice reps in the new system, you have to figure all three returning QB's are starting on a level playing field, and Miles might in fact be 3rd on the depth when Fall Camp starts.
All of these guys bring significant physical skills to the table, and one thing we should be able to say with confidence is that the QB will be a legitimate running threat in 2014, something that really hasn't been the case since Locker graduated. All are former 4-star prospects, and while replacing a 3-year starter at QB is never easy, the soft four-game out of conference slate to start the 2014 season provides a nice cushion to break in a new starter.
Player to Watch
Why? The obvious answer is we haven't seen him take any reps with this new staff and using the new playbook. An evening of questionable judgment in early February transformed him from presumed starter to major question mark, and Fall Camp will give us our first glimpse at seeing whether Miles fits what Petersen and Smith are looking for at the position.
This is shaping up to be a fascinating season for so many reasons - the coaching transition, the contrast of returning talent and experience at so many positions with major question marks at a few critical positions (QB, DB, K/P), the window that may be opening in the Pac-12 North for a new program to knock off Oregon and Stanford - and it takes on even more intrigue with the mystery that is the QB position. With Miles suspended for the season-opener at Hawaii, there is a very real chance that who takes the first snap in that game is not the guy who takes the first snap when conference play begins. I can't think of a season where the QB battle has been this up in the air since at least 2001, if not 1985.
If I had to guess, I'd say the depth when camp starts will be:
By the end of camp? That's a tough one, but I'll stick my neck out and say:
The Fall Camp Preview Schedule:
7/27: Defensive Backs (Brad Johnson)
7/28: Running Backs (Ryan Priest)
7/29: Defensive Line (Jesse Kennemer)
7/30: Linebackers (Ryan Priest)
7/31: Receivers (Chris Landon)
8/1: Offensive Line (Kirk DeGrasse)
8/2: Special Teams (Brad Johnson)
8/3: Coaches (Chris Landon)