petersen center
UW coach Chris Petersen said the structure of his system is in his place after the spring practice session. (AP)

By Brent Stecker

The first milestone of the Chris Petersen era at the University of Washington has come and gone.

Washington wrapped up its spring session inside a rainy Husky Stadium on Saturday, and though the usual spring game was replaced by a combination practice and scrimmage, fans that braved the weather caught a glimpse of what the former Boise State mentor is bringing to Montlake in 2014.

Here's a look at where the Huskies sit four months after hiring Petersen.

Three things we learned:

Chris Petersen's system is up and running.

Yes, Petersen's staff is putting its offense and defense in place, but the system he's concentrated the most on installing is the one of the bigger picture.

"I think we kind of got the structure," Petersen said after Saturday's session. "Our system's been introduced in everything, in terms of how we lift weights, and some of the things we believe in in terms of our philosophy of how we're gonna practice and all those types of things."

And if there's one important part of Petersen's system, it's the details. Just ask him.

"We've gotta tighten up the details of everything we do," he said. "We're not detailed enough, and that's where we gotta go going forward."

Explosiveness can be expected.

The Huskies may have no idea who their quarterback will be – Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams were neck and neck throughout the spring – but whoever it is will have weapons like John Ross and Jaydon Mickens at their disposal. Both wide receivers turned heads Saturday with touchdown receptions where they were able to show their speed and elusiveness, and it didn't go unnoticed by the guy in charge.

"I think we have some talent. You can see some explosive players," Petersen said.

All eyes will be on Shaq Thompson in 2014

The Huskies junior linebacker sported a yellow "no-contact" jersey Saturday, but it appears that he'll be seeing all kinds of contact when the season rolls along. That's because he'll almost certainly see time on both sides of the ball – when he isn't trying to contain opposing running backs, he'll be getting chances to elude fellow linebackers as a ball carrier himself. Petersen made no bones after being hired about the possibility of Thompson playing running back, and he was true to his word, giving the 6-foot-2, 231-pounder time at the position in the vast majority of the team's spring practices.

Three things we're still trying to figure out:

Will Cyler Miles return in the fall to make the quarterback battle a three-man race?

Sophomore Cyler Miles was the assumed 2014 Huskies starting quarterback, considering he already had success filling in when Keith Price was injured late last season. That all changed on Feb. 2, when Miles and teammate Damore'ea Stringfellow were implicated in two separate reported assaults near the Washington campus. Both were suspended indefinitely, and though Miles wasn't charged (Stringfellow took a plea deal last week), Petersen has maintained that a decision about Miles' future with the Huskies won't come until the team returns for camp in August.

Running back Deontae Cooper is in the mix to replace Bishop Sankey as Washington's No. 1 ball carrier. (AP)

Who will be the new No. 1 running back?

The quarterback race has grabbed the most headlines, but there's no bigger hole the Huskies need to replace than the one left by the school's all-time leading rusher Bishop Sankey, who declared for the NFL Draft after a stellar junior season. Petersen knows it, even if he only saw Sankey as a coach on the other sideline.

"I can't say enough really good things about Bishop Sankey. When you put on those tapes and you watch him, that guy's a special player," he said.

Jesse Callier, Dwayne Washington and Deontae Cooper all contributed in 2013, but redshirt freshman Lavon Coleman grabbed some of the attention in Saturday's scrimmage and proved that he'll be in the mix when August rolls around. And even though Callier, Washington and Ryan McDaniel all missed Saturday with injuries, they'll still be part of an entertaining position battle in the fall.

"I really like these guys. I think we've got some pretty good depth (at running back)," Petersen said. "I think they're all kind of unique in their own way. I'm excited to see these guys progress."

Are the Huskies in for some growing pains?

Washington brought Petersen in because of his impressive track record, which includes a sparkling 92-12 career coaching record, two Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year awards and a pair of undefeated seasons. It seems Petersen himself is trying to keep expectations reasonable after the spring session, though.

"The execution's not nearly consistent enough," he said. "We've got a lot of work to do in all phases of our program. The culture's not gonna be changed in two months, three months. But I think they're paying attention, and it's always a work in progress. I think they know what they need to do."

By Brent Stecker

A King County District Court judge accepted Washington football player Damore'ea Stringfellow's plea deal Wednesday to three misdemeanor charges stemming from two Feb. 2 assaults.

Stringfellow, a freshman from Perris, Calif., pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree assault and one count of malicious mischief, and was sentenced to five days in jail, which were transferred to five days on a work crew. He was also sentenced to counseling, and 70 hours of community service or fined $693.

Stringfellow was indefinitely suspended by the Huskies along with quarterback Cyler Miles after the incidents, which occurred near the University of Washington campus on the night of the Seahawks' Super Bowl win over the Denver Broncos.

Miles, who is from Colorado, was not charged in the assault case.

Both players have been absent from the Huskies' spring practice session, which will end Saturday. Washington coach Chris Petersen said Wednesday on 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" that a decision on their futures with Washington will come in the fall.

By Brent Stecker

First-year Huskies football coach Chris Petersen has continuously been asked this spring about the status of suspended quarterback Cyler Miles and wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow, and by and large he hasn't had much to say on the manner.

On Wednesday, he at least presented a loose timetable for a decision on their futures to 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny."

petersen practice
Huskies coach Chris Petersen told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" on Tuesday that the absences of suspended players Cyler Miles and Damore'ea Stringfellow is "painful for everybody involved." (AP)

"We'll probably let everybody know in the fall what's going on with those guys when we start back up," Petersen said. "I always want to be patient and make sure we digest things and do the right thing. ... In terms of where we go forward, we'll have that all figured out by the time we start in August and we'll have answers for everybody."

Petersen has been in no rush to make a definitive declaration on the status of the two players, who were suspended indefinitely in early February after being linked to an alleged assault. The King County prosecutor's office announced on April 3 that Miles would not be charged, but Stringfellow has been charged with three gross misdemeanors in the case.

One thing that is for sure – if the players do return, they'll be well behind their teammates after missing the entirety of the spring practice session.

"There's already a lot going on right now by the fact that they're not in spring ball," Petersen said. "That's tremendously painful for everybody involved with this thing. That's a new system, a new staff, and they haven't been around forever. That's a lot right there."

Petersen also gave "Brock and Danny" some insight into his spring practices, and he admitted that there are growing pains he and his staff are still working through.

"Anybody that takes a new job and thinks you're gonna hit the ground running and you're all good is kidding himself," he said. "I mean, we are behind just because we're new and we're implementing new systems and how we do things, and all that takes a while to get. But we are pleased with how hard the guys are going."

He still expects to have offensive tricks like the ones he employed during his successful tenure at Boise State to be ready by the start of the 2014 season, though.

"You're gonna see a lot of little wrinkles," he said. "There's gonna be some formations that are different. You may see more trick plays. And we're not gonna run trick plays just to do them – they need to work, and they've worked for us in the past."

By Brent Stecker

There are opportunities all over the Huskies roster as coach Chris Petersen starts his tenure at Washington, but there are perhaps no bigger shoes to fill than at tight end.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins set records at UW before declaring for the NFL Draft after his junior season in 2013, which left names like Joshua Perkins, Michael Hartvigson and Darrell Daniels to battle it out for the starting gig in 2014.

That culture of competition has worked well for the five tight ends on the roster this spring, as Petersen explained Tuesday that he's seen a lot to like from the position group.

"I think they've done a nice job. I've been impressed with that group," Petersen said. "I think they're very focused. I think we made good progress. I think there's some talent there, and if we stay healthy there, that's gonna be a real good group."

That's a good sign for a position that doesn't have much experience – only Hartvigson and Perkins have had notable playing time at tight end for the Huskies.

The way Petersen talked about the position, it sounds like tight ends will have a big role in his offense.

"We like to use those tight ends. They're hard to find, those big bodies that can run, catch, block, (help in the) run game," he said. "And when we find guys, we find ways to get them the ball."

Quarterbacks keeping even

Petersen still hasn't made much distinction between the quarterback duo of Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams, who have shared all the snaps this spring, but he's been pleased with their progress.

"I don't think they're doing certainly any worse than anybody else out here, and they probably have more on their plate than most guys by just playing that position," Petersen said.

The Huskies mentor said from Day 1 that accuracy and decision-making are the two most important things for a quarterback in his system, and as far as those traits go, one is ahead of the other with his signal-callers.

"I think their decision-making is actually pretty darn good. It could maybe be a little bit quicker at times. I think where we need to take the next big step is accuracy," he said. "It's gonna be a lot of reps on their own time."

Saturday's final practice open to public

The Huskies will wrap up their spring practices with a session open to the public starting at 1 p.m. Saturday in Husky Stadium, though a lack of roster depth will prevent them from playing a traditional spring game.

"It's more of a spring practice," Petersen said. "We will get some scrimmaging in. … Try to get the best of all worlds."

The day will also feature a a fan-fest on the East Practice Field at 10 a.m. and a team autograph session and photo opportunities from 10:30 a.m. to noon.


• Petersen is hoping to see more from senior RB Deontae Cooper, who has the unfortunate history of three ACL injuries. "He's getting good reps, he's making progress. I would like to see him cut loose a little more," Petersen said.

By Brent Stecker

The Washington Huskies have just three practices left this spring after No. 12 came and went Saturday. Here's an update on the three biggest storylines from the team's spring practices.

1. Shaq Thompson is a legitimate running back candidate.

Thompson has only played linebacker during his two seasons at UW, but the junior has continually found himself getting opportunities to carry the ball this spring. It's been a favorite storyline for the media, which is to be expected -- everybody loves a two-way star. That was seen with Bellevue product Myles Jack of UCLA last season, as he was briefly the talk of the nation when he excelled playing both at linebacker and running back.

For his part, the 6-foot-2, 231-pound Thompson has impressed coach Chris Petersen at nearly every turn.

"Each time we get him the ball, he does something good," Petersen said Saturday.

2. There is no favorite at quarterback yet.

Petersen has been political when talking about his quarterback situation, which has been a two-man competition all spring between sophomore Jeff Lindquist and redshirt freshman Troy Williams. Petersen has admitted that he wouldn't say if either quarterback had emerged as a No. 1 even if it had become clear to him. It's doubtful it's reached that point anyway, as the pair has looked as even as could be.

3. The Cyler Miles situation isn't over yet.

The biggest question entering the spring was the status of Miles, the assumed frontrunner to start at quarterback before he was suspended indefinitely along with wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow for an alleged incident in early February. Stringfellow has since been charged, but Miles won't be, and Petersen has said he wouldn't rule out a return to the team for Miles. That hasn't happened yet, but his name will continue be in the mix until otherwise specified.

By Brent Stecker

With a new regime for a college football program comes a fresh start, and that means for everybody.

The Washington Huskies' veteran players are experiencing that exact fact in their first spring practices under head coach Chris Petersen and his staff, which they are now three-fifths of the way through.

For Danny Shelton, a senior defensive lineman from Auburn, he knows his job is far from guaranteed with an entirely new set of coaches in place.

"It's basically fair game, so me being a senior, I could easily get my spot taken by a freshman or a sophomore," Shelton said earlier this week. "You tend to get that when new coaches (are) switching and transitioning into a new system."

The coaches themselves know full well that the players are thinking about what they have to do to impress them, too.

"It's a new system and it's a new coaching staff. You gotta take a new approach," defensive line coach Jeff Choate said. "It's now, 'I gotta go show myself all over again and improve myself all over again.'"

The intensity of practices have started to ramp up, especially since the Huskies came back Tuesday from two weeks off.

"I think those guys were feeling us out for the first couple weeks," Choate said. "We made it very clear what we expect when we came back from break, and I think they've responded extremely well."

Even though the intensity is picking up, the defense is still keeping things simple being that it's relatively early in the Petersen era.

"We're trying to get fundamentals, lay that groundwork down, and at the same time, teaching them concepts," defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said. "The minutiae, the detail, the fundamentals, that is where we're spending a lot of time with these guys. And in that process, they've been awesome. Wide-eyed; the energy level's there."

Follow Brent Stecker on Twitter @BrentStecker.

By Brent Stecker

A return to the field this spring for suspended Washington quarterback Cyler Miles has not been ruled out by UW coach Chris Peterson.

Peterson told Adam Jude of The Seattle Times Saturday that a decision has yet to be made on the sophomore, who was suspended in February after being linked to an alleged assault. The King County prosecutor's office announced Thursday that Miles would not be charged.

Petersen said "it's not" safe to assume Miles won't be seen this spring.

"We just haven't really decided on that whole situation," Petersen said. "It's kind of one day, one week at a time. There's no reason to rush anything, and we're always going to do the right thing. I know everyone thinks they have their opinion on what the right thing is, but we're going to do the right thing by the school, by this program and by the kids as well."

A return for wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow, who was suspended at the same time as Miles, is much less likely, as he was charged with three gross misdemeanors in the assault case.

Follow Brent Stecker on Twitter @BrentStecker.

SEATTLE (AP) – Suspended Washington wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow has been charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault and one count of malicious mischief after two incidents in February, the King County Prosecutor's Office announced Thursday.

Stringfellow is scheduled to be arraigned in King County District Court on April 16. All three charges are gross misdemeanors in the state of Washington, punishable by at least 90 days but less than one year in jail and fines of up to $5,000.

Prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to charge suspended Washington QB Cyler Miles, who was with Stringfellow.

The incidents happened on the night of Feb. 2 when parties broke out around Seattle following the Seahawks' victory over the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. Charging papers said Stringfellow and Miles were both walking near the University of Washington campus following the game wearing Denver Broncos gear and that contributed to what happened.

According to charging papers, Stringfellow began fighting with a man who took a Broncos hat from him. After they were separated, Stringfellow noticed a woman had been snapping photos of the altercation. Stringfellow attempted to take the camera from her. She was hit in the head and fainted, and Stringfellow threw the camera lens in the direction of a nearby fire, the documents said.

Less than an hour later, Stringfellow got into a fight with another man, according to charging papers. Stringfellow struck the man at least twice and chased him, the documents said.

Miles was with Stringfellow, but prosecutors couldn't determine whether Miles had struck the man.

Stringfellow has been suspended indefinitely by Washington coach Chris Petersen since the incident. The school said Thursday there is no change in his status. It was unknown who was representing Stringfellow.

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