With 11 minutes remaining and the Washington Huskies leading 31-10, Chuckie Keeton and his Utah State Aggies are inside the Husky 20 and threatening to close the gap to two touchdowns. The UW defense stiffens, and on 3rd and 14, Keeton hurries a pass into triple coverage. Brandon Beaver breaks on the pass, intercepts the ball at the goal line and with a full head of steam and a convoy of Husky defenders, appears headed to the end zone to put the Dawgs up 28 and effectively end the game. Kevin King forgets to look over his left shoulder and block the only Aggie with a chance to catch Beaver, who runs out of gas inside the 20 and is dragged down by Hunter Sharp at the three. Beaver had fumbled the ball and Utah State recovered, but after a lengthy review it is determined that Beaver was in fact down and the Huskies dodge a bullet and take over with a 1st and goal at the Aggie three. Whew. Almost screwed that up. I stick my binoculars in my bag, check under the seat for any personal items, and ready myself to beat traffic as the siren sounds and the Huskies take an insurmountable four-touchdown lead.
Enter Jeff Lindquist and the L package. It hasn't really worked all game, but it's 1st and goal inside the five, for crying out loud. How can this fail? Lindquist takes the shotgun snap, fakes the hand off to Marvin Hall, and plows his way into the Aggie eight-man front for a yard. 2nd and goal from the two, the Huskies pull the entire O-Line to the right. Somehow almost everyone misses their blocks as Lindquist runs the option toward the boundary with Dwayne Washington as the pitch option. An early toss to Washington and he likely beats everyone to the corner, but Lindquist simply sucks at this play. He stops, cuts into the middle where there is absolutely nothing, holds it too long and is met in the backfield. Wrapped up by two Aggie defenders and surrounded by three more, he tries to flip the ball out to DW, who is almost 10 yards away from him at this point. The ball falls to the ground in front of him and bounces right to USU safety Jontrell Rocquemore who runs it back 97 yards for a TD. 31-17, still almost 10 minutes to play.
Utah State, now breathing life and fired up, makes a big special teams play with a hard hit on Chico McClatcher, pinning UW inside the 13 yard line. You can almost hear the collective sound of binoculars being brought out of bags, groans, and uneasiness among the Husky faithful. Thankfully, Jake Browning is friggin' nails. On 2nd and 6 he fires a perfect dart to Isaiah Renfro on a slant route for a 15-yard gain and a monster momentum shift. Why many love Jake Browning: the next play is a Run/Pass Option and he keeps his foot on the gas, floating a touch pass to a wide-open Joshua Perkins for another 18 yards. Suddenly the Huskies are at midfield with less than eight minutes remaining. A couple of safe runs by Gaskin set up 3rd and 6 with just over six minutes left. Browning steps up in a dirty pocket, drops his arm angle to a three-quarter delivery, and slips a nifty pass just beyond the reach of the linebacker to Dante Pettis on a drag route. Pettis peeks up field too soon and juggles the ball, but is so wide open he has time to haul it in and scoot the additional 5 yards needed to pick up the 1st down. UW wouldn't score on this drive, but would chew up six minutes and allow the Husky Defense to end the game with a final defensive stand.
This article is about Lindquist, so why so much detail about a drive that didn't even involve him? Yeah, exactly.
Some call it the Wildcat, some the L-Cat. The Lincat. The L package. The Mildcat. Run Jeff, Run.
I call it: turn to my dad and utter "Why the #*%* is Browning coming off the field?!??!"
Rewind to 2014 and the Georgia State game. UW trailed at halftime 14-0. Cyler Miles and the Husky offense were struggling. Six possessions; five punts, one turnover on downs. Three possessions went for negative yardage. Nothing was working against an inferior opponent. Early in the 3rd quarter, following a 38-yard Dante Pettis punt return to the GSU 18-yard line, Miles would scramble inside the 10 and fumble. UW would recover, and in came Lindquist. Faking the hand off, he ran through a gaping hole at the nine-yard line and dragged linebackers as he powered his way to Washington's first TD.
The Husky defense would sandwich two three-and-outs around yet another Miles-led possession which yielded four yards and a punt. Halfway through the 3rd quarter, UW would get a drive going behind Miles with some Dwayne Washington runs and a 21-yard pass completion on 3rd and long. Just when it looked like the Huskies were rolling, a penalty would put the Dawgs in a 3rd and 6 inside the GSU 30. Enter Lindquist, who runs for 12 yards and first down. Miles finished the drive with a short TD toss, Georgia State clearly on their heels. A fumble on the first play of the next drive would set up UW with a short field and 4 plays later it was 21-14. GSU would go backwards on their next possession, Pettis would have another nice punt return into enemy territory, and a mix of Lavon Coleman runs and short passes made the score 28-14 early in the 4th quarter. Yet another Georgia State 3-and-out set up the Huskies with good field position, and Lindquist would cap a six-play drive with a nice 14-yard dash off-tackle to the end zone untouched. Two plays later, John Timu would secure an errant pass for a pick six. 42-14 Dawgs; binoculars & seat cushions gathered, plenty of time to beat traffic.
This is when you run a special package: when nothing else is working. Kind of like in basketball when everyone is cold and you put in a shooter that rarely plays to try to spark offensive momentum. It worked on this day. Sadly, that is what Chris Petersen and Jonathan Smith envisioned when they tried this package time and time again. I really didn't mind it that much in 2014 because I never really had much faith in Washington's Miles-led attack.
But it became clear fairly early in 2015 that UW had a full-time QB who was really good in every down and distance situation. Yes, he took sacks, but didn't fumble often. Yes, he missed deep throws, but erred on the side of an incompletion. In short, there was no foreseeable reason to take Jake Browning off the field. Earlier in the Utah State game, on two occasions, the Huskies were inside the 10 and ran Lindquist. It didn't work. UW was bailed out, one time on a beautifully executed fake field goal, the next time on a Jake the Snake scramble and TD toss to Drew Sample. That's my point: Jake Browning in the game puts pressure on the defense. Even at 19 years old, he reads the defense and makes the right play. He needs to be in the game, behind the center, surveying the defense with his boyish face, clapping his hands, faking clapping his hands, and never giving away what the play is about to be.
Jeff Lindquist is a really good kid. But at the risk of sounding insensitive, I'm not sure Husky fans will remember his role on the 2015 team with fondness.