As practices begin, roster questions remain

Coach Chris Petersen has some key positions to replace as UW football begins series of spring practices Tuesday

Staff writerMarch 4, 2014 

SEATTLE — The suspension of quarterback Cyler Miles leaves new University of Washington coach Chris Petersen with a spring-practice quandary.

Miles, along with UW receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow, is still serving an indefinite suspension amid an assault investigation, which leaves Petersen with only two quarterbacks on his roster as the Huskies begin spring football practices on Tuesday.

Petersen joked that what he’d like to see out of his two remaining quarterbacks — redshirt sophomore Jeff Lindquist and redshirt freshman Troy Williams — is simple:

“A guy that can come back for the second day and not have his arm thrown off because we only have two quarterbacks,” a smiling Petersen said.

Petersen, who is entering his first spring at Washington, said all the usual things Monday about being excited to get back on the field after spending his first few months at the school recruiting and establishing the groundwork for his program.

Coaches — aside from strength coach, Tim Socha, who was with Petersen at Boise State — have had limited contact with players during the winter.

For that reason — and because Petersen and his first-year staff have limited knowledge of their players’ strengths and weaknesses — he says there is not yet a depth chart.

“We have a seating chart,” Petersen said, adding that he hopes to see competition at every position — especially quarterback.

“We’ll maybe have two groups, the ones and the twos, and those guys are interchangeable, and those groups are interchangeable,” Petersen said. “So we certainly don’t have any starters at that position, for sure.”

The roster features returning talent, but there are also a few positions that require replacement, such as running back (Bishop Sankey entered the NFL draft), tight end (Austin Seferian-Jenkins entered the NFL draft) and quarterback (Keith Price graduated).

Petersen confirmed that Miles and Stringfellow remain suspended, saying that “we’ll just let that play out and see how it goes.”

Lindquist and Williams will see plenty of repetitions this spring. There should also be plenty of opportunities at receiver, with Stringfellow suspended and senior Kasen Williams still recovering from a broken leg.

Petersen said he expects Kasen Williams to return to full speed by the summer.

UW also will be without two returning starters on the offensive line: Dexter Charles, who will miss the entire spring recovering from a shoulder injury, and Micah Hatchie, who will be a limited participant. So will linebacker Scott Lawyer, safety Kevin King, running back Ryan McDaniel and defensive end Cory Littleton, all of whom are recovering from injury.

Depth issues are always compounded in spring by the fact that incoming freshmen haven’t yet arrived, and because of how far away the season is.

“We’re not trying to win spring ball. We’re trying to get these guys ready for fall,” Petersen said.

Practices will last somewhere in the 2-hour range, and will begin at 8 a.m. weekdays and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays. The Huskies will practice six times before the week of finals and spring break, then return for nine more sessions beginning April 1.

The focus will be on fundamentals more than scheme.

“We haven’t done any football. It’s all weight lifting and running liners,” Petersen said. “Hopefully we can get lined up (Tuesday). But that’s why we’re excited to get out there and really do some football. We’ve watched tape, but we haven’t coached these guys at all in terms of that stuff.”

HUDSON, CAMPBELL RETURN

Prior to the Apple Cup last season, former UW coach Steve Sarkisian announced that four players with one year of eligibility remaining would graduate and leave the program at season’s end.

Two of those players, receiver DiAndre Campbell and defensive lineman Andrew Hudson, are back on the roster and will participate in spring practices.

Petersen said he expects both fifth-year seniors will be with the team for the 2014 season.

“When I first got here, I didn’t know, and we were talking about that and I said ‘Hey, maybe we’ll do spring ball and see how this thing looks and see what you guys think, and we’ll go from there,’” Petersen said. “I think they’re both really good kids and I’m excited about those guys. They’ve been really good in the weight room, really good in the locker room. Those are the type of guys we’re all about, so I’m anxious to see how they perform on the football end.”

EXTRA POINTS

Defensive lineman Lawrence Lagafuaina, who battled injuries last season, is no longer on UW’s roster. … Psalm Wooching, formerly a fullback, is now listed on the roster as a defensive end. … Offensive lineman James Atoe is currently listed on the roster at 375 pounds. That’s up from 349 a season ago.

christian.caple@thenewstribune. com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @ChristianCaple

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