Position Battles: QB, RB, DB, ST

Jeff Lindquist going through throwing drills with Offensive Coordinator and QB Coach, Jonathan Smith.

Jeff Lindquist going through throwing drills with Offensive Coordinator and QB Coach, Jonathan Smith.

QB: This certainly has been the most publicized position battle throughout the off-season; however, Coach Pete finally threw us a bone today. He announced that Jeff Lindquist, a Redshirt Sophomore from Mercer Island HS, will be the starting quarterback against Hawaii next weekend, but seemed non-committal to name Lindquist the starter past week one. This should not come as a surprise to those who attended last weekend’s scrimmage. Lindquist outshined the other three quarterbacks; not only did he have the more accurate and powerful arm, but he also appeared to have a better understanding of the offense. Every throw was thrown on time and with confidence, it looked as if he knew where the weakness in the defense would be. With that being said, Coach Pete has reiterated that this will continue to be an open competition. Coach Pete will re-evaluate the QB battle after week one. Lindquist will finally get his first meaningful snaps, as will Troy Williams in the event of a blowout, and Cyler Miles will be eligible after serving his one-game suspension. From my perspective this is Jeff Lindquist’s job to lose. If he can continue to perform at a high-level in game situations, as he has all off-season, I don’t see a scenario where he loses the starting job. However, if Lindquist struggles week one don’t be shocked to see Miles starting at home next week against Eastern Washington. The competition to be the season-long starting quarterback is still open, but Jeff Lindquist has a great opportunity to run away with the starting job next weekend.

RB: The running back position battle has also been full of uncertainty and intrigue this off-season. A “core” of four players has emerged and will be featured in Coach Pete’s attempt at a running back-by-committee approach. Dwayne Washington and Lavon Coleman have had great off-seasons and have begun to separate themselves as the top two backs. Expect Washington and Coleman to receive the bulk of the carries week one against Hawaii. With that being said, Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier will get their touches next weekend as well. The first game of the season will be a big opportunity for all four of these running backs to prove that they can be an every down back.

DB: The defensive secondary will certainly be the youngest and least experienced position group on the team. We know for certain that Marcus Peters will be the starting cornerback as he looks to have an All-PAC12 or even an All-American season. Outside of Peters, the other three positions remain wide open. Throughout fall camp, Jermaine Kelly has seemed to solidify himself as the second cornerback opposite of Peters. Also, Brandon Beaver and Trevor Walker have been consistently getting first string reps at Free Safety and Strong Safety respectively. However, both have been pushed for their starting positions by freshman Budda Baker and sophomore Kevin King. Throughout the game the Huskies will be faced with situations that require as many as six defensive backs on the field, which will create opportunities for other young players. Next in line to receive playing time are freshmen, Naijel Hale, Sidney Jones, Darren Gardenhire, and Jojo McIntosh. Expect to see all of these players contributing in the secondary and on special teams throughout the season.

ST: Special teams have had their fair share of position battles as well. It seems that Cameron Van Winkle has solidified himself as the Huskies starting placekicker and kick-off specialist. Likewise, John Ross III has retained his kick returning duty from last season. Jaydon Mickens will start the season as the Dawg’s punt returner; however, Budda Baker has been impressive in fall camp and will have his chances to both return kicks and punts. The punting job remains wide open. Korey Durkee and Tristan Vizcaino have been competing for the starting punting job and both have had their shining moments in fall camp. I would give a very slight edge to Durkee after watching him blast two 60+ yard punts during last weekend’s scrimmage. Overall, the Huskies kicking game remains somewhat shaky; however, they boast an elite return game with Ross, Mickens, and Baker returning kicks and punts.

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