Despite a fumble Saturday that led to a Utah State touchdown, Washington Huskies coach Chris Petersen said reserve quarterback Jeff Lindquist will continue to “have a unique role with us.”
The specifics of that role, however, are unclear.
Petersen didn’t rule out the possibility Monday of continuing to use Lindquist as a runner in situational packages, despite the relative ineffectiveness of such plays during Saturday’s 31-17 victory.
The Huskies (2-1) play host to California (3-0) in their Pac-12 opener at 2 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium.
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Lindquist carried seven times for 16 yards against Utah State, with a long run of 8 yards. But his five red-zone carries gained a total of just 6 yards, and his final carry, which came at the Utah State 1-yard line with UW leading 31-10 in the fourth quarter, resulted in a fumble and a 97-yard return for a touchdown by the Aggies. He has also yet to attempt a pass this season.
At 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, Lindquist, a fourth-year junior, is indeed a unique option as a ballcarrier. He rushed 16 times last season for a net of 63 yards and two touchdowns, and Petersen has made it clear that he wants Lindquist to have some kind of role on the team despite not being the starting quarterback.
But with true freshman starter Jake Browning already impressing in his first three collegiate games — he threw for 368 yards and two touchdowns Saturday, and is averaging 9.5 yards per pass attempt — it’s worth wondering if the Huskies are ever better off with him on the sideline, considering Browning was a big reason UW was able to move the ball into the red zone in the first place.
“You know, we’ve got to be able to use all of our people in creative ways,” Petersen said Monday. “I thought (offensive coordinator) Jonathan Smith did a great job of being really creative with our offense. We had a really difficult, blitzing team that throws a lot of different blitzes at you, and he did some things to keep those guys off balance, and made our passing game explosive.
“So it’s going to be continually, how do we use our people to keep people off balance? Whether that (Lindquist package) continues or not will kind of be week-to-week.”
Browning’s performance, it seems, isn’t necessarily a factor in such decisions.
“It depends what play we’re calling,” Petersen said. “Jake’s not better than some of our other guys at some of the plays, so we’ll try to put our best personnel out there.”
With Lindquist, Petersen said Saturday, “I don’t really want to say exactly what (his role) is because one day we’ll do this and the next we’ll do that. I think we can be creative with him.”
Budda, Eldrenkamp ‘week-to-week’
Petersen did not offer a specific update on the injury status of star safety Budda Baker or left guard Jake Eldrenkamp, saying only that each player is “week-to-week” and that neither player’s ailment is thought to be season-ending.
Baker, a sophomore, led the team in total snaps played as a true freshman in 2014, and is also the team’s primary kick returner. He sustained an ankle injury on the third play of Saturday’s 31-17 victory over Utah State when an Aggies offensive lineman fell into the back of his legs.
Eldrenkamp started the first two games at left guard but did not play Saturday after he was injured during practice. As a result, the Huskies started true freshman Trey Adams at left tackle and moved third-year sophomore Coleman Shelton inside to left guard. The Huskies also started redshirt freshman Kaleb McGary at right tackle and redshirt freshman Jesse Sosebee at right guard.
Petersen praised Shelton in particular, noting that he “played the entire game at left guard, and he’s played there two days in his entire life.”
“I thought they did a good job for their first time all out there together,” Petersen said. “Can we improve? Absolutely. Do we need to improve? For sure. But I thought the first time out of the gate, they were pretty good.”
After rushing for just 74 yards on 35 carries against Utah State, the Huskies rank 114th nationally in yards-per-carry at 3.45. “We definitely need to run the ball better than we have,” Petersen said. “I could be a broken record all year. If we don’t run the ball better, I’m going to be saying the same thing. And so we’ll continue to work hard on it and continue to try to come up with answers for our guys and give them a chance to be successful. There’s no question it needs to get better.” … Petersen said he’s “not really exactly sure” who the backup quarterback would be if Browning couldn’t play. ... Of Cal junior quarterback Jared Goff, considered one of the best quarterback prospects in this year’s NFL draft class, Petersen said: “He’s really, really good. He gets it out really fast. He’ll hang in the pocket and sit on his back foot. That guy can throw it down the field 40 yards on his back foot, I mean, on a line.”
California (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12) at Washington (2-1, 0-0), 2 p.m. Pac-12 Network, 1000-AM, 97.3-FM