Huskies notebook: Offense hitting its stride behind QB Cyler Miles
One thing Washington’s 44-19 win over Illinois made clear is that the Huskies’ offense is hitting its stride.
It was a cause for concern after an unimpressive 17-16 season-opening over Hawaii, but since sophomore quarterback Cyler Miles took over in Week 2, it’s been nothing but smooth sailing when the ball is in the Dawgs’ possession. In the last two games, Washington has scored a combined 103 points, gained a combined 1,001 yards, and committed just one turnover.
Coach Chris Petersen said Monday that the offense is starting to take the shape he’s looking for, though there’s a lot of work yet to be done.
“I see us getting more efficient in some of the things we’ve been working on for a while. I think we’re getting into a little bit of a rhythm,” he said. “We’re just not there yet (with our base package) in terms of being able to build off of some things. We still have to shore up some base details before we can start to get into some other things.”
The running game has done the majority of the work thus far for Washington, but the passing attack made a solid step in the right direction against Illinois. Miles threw for 191 yards on 15 for 20 passing, including a perfect 9 for 9 to open the game.
“I think he’s just been doing a great job since we’ve had him back in the mix,” Petersen said of Miles, who was named a captain for the Illinois game. “He’s been producing.”
Other than a bomb that turned into a 75-yard touchdown reception to the speedy John Ross, the Huskies concentrated mostly on shorter passes and screens. And while Miles was able to complete most of his attempts, there’s some nuance that Petersen would like see to improve.
“I think accuracy, he can grow,” Petersen said. “He threw great deep balls, but a lot of times when the balls are going out to those bubble screens and those things, those are harder to execute like we need them executed than just (what is seen from) sitting in the stands. Those are hard to pinpoint.”
Another thing that is likely going to be a focus is how often Miles decides to tuck and run. He led the Huskies with 64 yards on nine carries against Illinois, and he also carried 12 times for 59 yards the previous week. The yardage is nice, but the number of attempts is not ideal.
“We need to be smart and careful with that, there’s no question,” Petersen said. “I think the quarterback himself needs to be smart and crafty of not getting hit, of knowing how many yards I can get and then get out of bounds or get down. I think Cyler did a better job this game than he did the first game.”
Shaq Thompson takes Player of the Week honors
Linebacker Shaq Thompson’s monster performance against Illinois – in which he became the first Husky since at least 1978 to return both a fumble and an interception for touchdowns – earned him some big accolades. He was selected as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week, and he also took national defensive player of the week honors from Athlon and the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
Thompson was able to show off the wheels that have made an option in the Huskies’ backfield with his returns, rambling 36 yards on the pick-6 and 52 yards on the fumble recovery.
In addition to the awards, Thompson also received praise from his coach.
“I think the first thing that jumps out about Shaq is just how much I like being around him. That’s the first thing I think of. He’s just always got a great demeanor about him, he’s always got a smile on his face since I’ve been here,” Petersen said. “Those are the guys that make the coaching thing fun. And then when you back it up and he can do so many things on the football field, wow, this guy is kinda special.”
• CB Marcus Peters rejoined the team for practice Monday after a one-week suspension, Petersen said.
• CB Jermaine Kelly, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in practice last week, underwent surgery Monday, according to Petersen.