Washington coach Chris Petersen starts 2nd year with Huskies with his biggest question at QB



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SEATTLE — Chris Petersen can only describe it as a feeling. There isn't anything tangible Petersen can point to yet, just the sense of progress from where he was at this time last year when he took over at Washington.

"I think we're making good progress in terms of just the guys understanding how we do things and everybody just being more on the same page," Petersen said Friday. "It's hard to describe other than a feeling. We have a ways to go — we do for sure — but it does feel different. And I think that's exciting."

Petersen and the Huskies start preseason practice Saturday, which will start the four-week buildup to Washington's opener when Petersen returns to face his former employer for the first time, Boise State.

Between now and Sept. 4, Petersen and the Huskies have plenty of questions to answer, none bigger than who will be his starting quarterback. Last year's starter, Cyler Miles, stepped away from football because of hip problems. That leaves junior Jeff Lindquist, redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels and true freshman Jake Browning as Petersen's options.

Petersen has never started a true freshman at quarterback; Kellen Moore was a redshirt freshman when he won the job at Boise State and became the winningest quarterback in NCAA history. But Petersen is not shutting the door on Browning, who set national records at Folsom High School outside Sacramento, California, enrolled at Washington in January and participated in spring practice.

"We're open to everything. We are very open to whatever we think's going to give us the best chance to score points, and that's the bottom line," Petersen said. "Does everybody have their prescribed way that they love it? Yeah. I don't think there's a coach in the country that's probably any different. We'd probably all like Russell Wilson running the show for us. Tom Brady. When you've got that, awesome. But until we get that, we've just got to figure out what our plan is."

Lindquist has the most experience of the trio. He appeared in 12 games last season and started the season opener at Hawaii, Petersen's first win with the Huskies. Lindquist passed sparingly and for the season was just 10 of 30 for 162 yards and one touchdown. He was used more as a running threat in short-yardage situations.

Petersen said offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith has mapped out equal reps for the trio for the first week before evaluations start to be made.

The Huskies will begin practice without cornerback Naijiel Hale, who was dismissed Friday for disciplinary reasons. Hale started two games last season as a freshman and was expected to contend for a starting spot.

For all the focus on who will be Washington's quarterback, the Huskies will be trying to replace three first-team AP All-America selections on defense, along with cornerback Marcus Peters, who was kicked off the team midway through last season but was still a first-round draft pick.

Petersen knows it won't be simple trying to replace one, let alone four standouts on defense.

"We can talk about that, that pass-rusher or that cover-corner . so I don't know if it's just one," Petersen said. "Those guys were really good players."

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