As a small indication of the Huskies’ urgency for any edge in their opener Friday against a ranked team on the road, Washington coach Chris Petersen wouldn’t divulge Sunday the winner of the three-way fight for the starting quarterback job. The purple public must await until kickoff at 7:15 p.m Friday (ESPN national) against 23rd-ranked Boise State.
Think of it like the secrets of Christmas, although that has to include the option of receiving a lump of coal.
“We really don’t think it’s an advantage for us to tell you our strategy right now on that position,” Petersen said Sunday. “We just think at this point it’s kind of the best for our program to move forward for these handful of days with less distractions. We think it will create a little less distractions.”
A solid case can be made that not naming a QB will cause more distractions. But Petersen would prefer to believe that the Broncos coach staff and players will be torqued with anxiety about the unknown.
“We would like rumor and speculation,” he said, smiling as he threw a belt-high fastball in the media wheelhouse. “As much as you can do for that, that will help us.”
Petersen is figuring that in his return to the place of his greatest coaching glory, where his new team will be a 10-point underdog, any sleight of hand, head fake or deception that can prove an edge on one play is worth something.
It probably helps him to know he has three distinct quarterback styles from which to choose. Junior Jeff Lindquist is a bruising 245-pounder who isn’t a very accurate thrower, meaning the option game may suit him best. Freshman Jake Browning is the best passer and not much of a run threat. Redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels probably is the best combination, but he may not have highest ceiling.
Which suggests that Petersen has been tipping his hand all along when he said he may use the whole flotilla.
“Two quarterbacks – three could be used,” he said. “We’ve been looking at this, obviously, since spring, analyzed every rep. We think we’ve got a good plan going into this. I think we all feel good about it.”
Including Browning in the mix will be a first in his coaching career. Not in his 13 years at Boise State and one at Washington has he started a freshman.
“I don’t think it really matters if it’s a true freshman or not,” he said. “Maybe we haven’t had a guy that was ready to go. There’s a lot of true freshmen that play.”
The bigger worry may be the inexperience in front of the QB. With the injury retirement of the most experienced returning lineman, Dexter Charles, the Huskies’ offensive line is hurting for the wisdom of elders.
According to the two-deep rosters, sophomore Coleman Shelton will start at left tackle (seven starts at right tackle in 2014), junior Jake Eldrenkamp at left guard (14 games on special teams), senior Siosifa Tufunga (five starts at left guard) and junior Shane Brostek (redshirt 2014, five games in 2013). Right tackle will be between two redshirt freshmen, Kaleb McGary or Matt James.
Their collective baptismal will be upon the fake blue sod of Albertsons Stadium that has never had the honor and privilege of hosting the regal warriors from the Northwest’s premier city.
“I think when a game is billed as the biggest game in school history, I don’t think you have to do a lot of describing,” Petersen said. “I think using those words just take care of it. It’s a great place to play. Unbelievable home-field advantage. The size of the stadium (36,387) has nothing to do with it.
“Those are very passionate fans and a really good place to play a college football game. Noise is a factor. Tough place to play.”
Petersen can only hope the place is susceptible to mystery and intrigue.
Team selects six captains
The Huskies voted six players as captains: Lindquist, C Siosifa Tufunga, WR Jaydon Mickens, RB Deontae Cooper, LB Travis Feeney and DT Tani Tupou. All are seniors except Lindquist and Cooper.
“It was awesome to see because I think those guys picked guys that we really think should be team captains and have done a great job since winter conditioning,” Petersen said. “It was very clear cut that these six guys jumped out.”