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SEATTLE (AP) — Washington coach Chris Petersen came to the defense of his starting quarterback Monday, while simultaneously shouldering the blame for poor coaching decisions.
In his weekly news conference, Petersen acknowledged that he would like better play from quarterback Cyler Miles, but that doesn't necessarily mean he puts all the responsibility on the sophomore. Miles passed for 98 yards in a 20-13 loss to No. 14 Stanford, while the offense managed just one touchdown.
With those concerns, the bye week could not fall at a better time for the Huskies. Washington (4-1, 0-1 Pac-12) has two weeks to straighten out its offensive woes before traveling to California on Oct. 11.
"It's not just Cyler, it's everybody" Petersen said. "We got to be better at all these positions to help him out. I don't want to put this on Cyler, the quarterback. The whole offense needs to be designed to make the quarterback better. So how can we do that? Well, we got to run the ball. Starts there, and all of a sudden, it gets a little easier to play quarterback when you can do some of those things."
The running game, which had been a bright spot throughout most of a 4-0 start, managed to gain 81 yards, with Lavon Coleman's 58 leading the way. Despite trouble moving the ball, the Huskies were facing a stout Stanford defense and picked up 15 first downs, although four of them came via penalty.
Washington finished with 179 total yards, the fewest since being held to 107 by Stanford in 2010.
Petersen said he believes the Huskies' run game is close to developing a rhythm and becoming effective, but the passing game still needs work. The first-year Washington coach wants to see Miles stay in the pocket longer instead of instantly resorting to scramble mode when there's pressure.
At no point on Saturday did he ponder replacing Miles, who has five career starts under his belt, with backup Jeff Lindquist. Lindquist has taken a few planned snaps in a wildcat offensive set the past two games.
"He needs time," Petersen said. "He's played five games in his college career. Against the No. 1 defense in the country (Stanford), and so he needs time to let us coach him, let him grasp on to the things we want him to do."
Petersen said the bye week allows for evaluation of everything. The scrutiny will start at the top, as coaches assess their performances. Petersen again expressed his dismay at calling a fake punt in the fourth quarter near midfield against Stanford with the game still tied at 13. The decision backfired when Stanford stopped the attempt and then drove the short field for the game-winning score.
"I'll reiterate again how poor of a call it was on my part on that fake punt — that won't happen again," Petersen said. "I will say this, we will take chances. That's who we are. I'm not scared to take chances, and we will, but they'll be more calculated. That doesn't mean that they're all going to work. Whether you're running trick plays, you're trying to get things going on special teams, you'll get some things blown up on you. But that was a poor call on my part."