The Huskies’ chartered flight from Honolulu landed in Seattle early Sunday morning, and the team buses rolled back onto campus around 8 a.m.
Junior receiver Jaydon Mickens got in his car and immediately drove to pick up quarterback Cyler Miles. They came right back to the team’s Husky Stadium offices together to review game film … until about 3 o’clock Sunday afternoon.
Around that same time, as the dust settled after the Huskies’ narrow escape in the 17-16 season-opening victory over Hawaii, UW coaches decided that it was time to turn over the offense to Miles, the sophomore quarterback who did not make the trip to Hawaii while serving a one-game suspension.
Miles has been taking the reps with the starting offense this week, and he’ll make his season debut as the Huskies’ starting quarterback Saturday against Eastern Washington (noon, Pac-12 Networks).
“He’s gotten a ton of turns. He’s worn out today,” offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith said after Wednesday’s practice.
“I’m very excited. You should see what’s going on out in practice,” Mickens said.
“This team, it seems a little more confident — no, (we have) a lot of confidence,” Mickens added. “Because we know this guy. You’ve seen him at Oregon State; you’ve seen him come in at UCLA and almost win it for us. And it’s a different swagger when he’s out there. He’s another Keith Price. He’s changing plays, he’s reading coverages, he’s faking the defense out with this, that. It’s amazing to see him do. When he rolls out, he’s still looking down the field, keeping his arm square. If he has to run, you know he can run. He’s making everybody else play better.”
Miles will not be available for media interviews before Saturday’s game.
The UW offense was shut out in the second half against Hawaii, going three-and-out on five of its nine drives. First-time starter Jeff Lindquist, 7 of 11 in the first half, completed just 3 of 15 passes in the second half.
It wasn’t all on Lindquist, though. The Huskies averaged just 3.6 yards on their 48 carries against Hawaii.
“It’s a group effort, there’s no doubt,” Smith said. “We did try to put an emphasis on running the ball, and we ran it OK, but not nearly as well as we would’ve liked. I look at the third-down situations we put Jeff in, and you’ve got to do better on first and second down. If you’re going to hand the ball of on first down, you’ve got to get more than two or three (yards) a pop.”
UW’s other three quarterbacks have stronger arms, but Miles’ anticipation on throws and his potentially-elite running ability are what separate him.
“He gives the receivers opportunities. He gives the receivers chances,” senior receiver Kasen Williams said. “There’s some times where it may seem like we’re covered, but if you just throw a competitive ball, a 50-50 ball, who’s going to come down with it? Those are the balls I like the most because it gives you a chance to really show and separate yourself and make those catches that you want your quarterback to trust you (with). … I think that’s going to be real key. …
“Compared to Jeff, Jeff’s ball’s a lot harder and a lot tighter than Cyler’s is. But Cyler’s ball is in the air for a little bit longer, so he throws it with anticipation. And with that being said, it’s easier for us to see the ball all the way in and it comes in softer, so it’s easier to catch. To me, as long as he throws it to me, it’s all good.”