“I think the pre-season was a learning experience, in a good way,” Petersen said after Washington’s 31-17 win over Utah State. That first game on the road was kind of a tough one, no place like home. We get to start the Pac-12 here at home, so that’s really good."
1. Jake Browning is growing up before our eyes
http://www.scout.com/college/washington/story/1589050-post-game-video-qb... Many in the outside, myself included, thought Jeff Lindquist was the obvious choice to be Washington’s starting quarterback for 2015. The Mercer Island junior had performed nearly flawlessly during spring and fall camp, while K.J. Carta-Samuels and Jake Browning had been more inconsistent. But the press only saw half of fall camp, and in the other half it was clear that Browning, the true freshman, had displayed all the characteristics needed to show Petersen and UW Offensive Coordinator Jonathan Smith that he was ready to handle the pressure of big-time college football.
What Browning has done in the first three games of his UW career is nothing short of remarkable: 59-89 for 844 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 160. For reference, fellow frosh phenom Josh Rosen’s current quarterback rating is 126.6.
Going forward, the competition is going to tighten up considerably. It’s hard to say how much California’s defense will test Browning; that game has ‘shootout’ written all over it. But there’s no doubt that as Browning continues to get more and more comfortable with his role and the speed of the game slows down, he has a chance to do things never seen before at Montlake by a freshman signal-caller.
2. The offensive line of the future is also the offensive line of today
Against a stingy Utah State defense, the new-look Husky line helped Jake Browning throw for 368 yards and three touchdowns, while minimizing the Aggies’ aggressive pressure front to only one sack.
Adams wasn’t expected to start games so soon, but an injury to Jake Eldrenkamp created a domino effect that pushed the freshman from Wenatchee onto the big stage. He handled it like a pro, with no penalties on the day and stifling Utah State’s pass rush.
3. The defense is good enough to keep Washington in games
The takeaway from the fact that the defense is allowing only 11 points and 268 total yards a game is that they will keep the Huskies in games where the offense struggles. And with a true freshman quarterback, growing offensive line and questions surrounding the run game - there’s no question the offense will deal with inconsistency.
4. Special Teams is living up to their name
http://www.scout.com/college/washington/story/1589075-post-game-video-pk... Special teams is a third of the game, and the Washington Huskies are taking full advantage of that opportunity to make a difference. With a punt return and fake field already in for touchdowns, Washington Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Choate is earning his paycheck. Tristan Vizcaino has become an unsung hero, but not just because of his speed to the corner of the end zone. His kickoffs have consistently been to the end zone or beyond, already accounting for 10 touchbacks out of 17 kickoffs. If he can continue to force touchbacks at a 60 percent clip, he will have justified his scholarship by that metric alone.
5. The run game will only go as far as Myles Gaskin will take it
Coleman, Dwayne Washington, Deontae Cooper, and Jomon Dotson all have the ability to do big things; it was Washington who led the Huskies in catches and receiving yards against Utah State. They can be valuable contributors. But Gaskin’s blend of vision, patience, burst and lean puts him in the lead when choosing which running back the coaches are going to go to once Pac-12 play starts.
The numbers don’t lie; Gaskin has 193 yards so far as the Huskies move into conference play - the next-best running back has 42.
6. The receivers need to focus on blocking, not catching
7. The use of the tight end as a weapon should increase
All of the tight ends are ‘OR’s on the official UW depth chart, meaning all of them could potentially start. The Huskies had 41 total catches out of the tight end group last year; they are already at 13 through three games. Expect those numbers to jump up considerably considering the talent of the group and the fact that Browning can lean on them for easy catches when trying to move the ball downfield.
8. The defensive line loves to play Hockey
There’s no way the 2015 defensive front could possibly match the pure numbers the 2014 group put up, but what they have done is stifle offenses and provided enough pressure to force quarterbacks into poor decisions or dump-off situations. What the Huskies were able to do with four men last year they are doing with at least eight right now. And so far it’s producing the desired results.
9. Azeem Victor has quickly become the heart and soul of the UW defense
http://www.scout.com/college/washington/story/1589057-post-game-video-mi... Speaking of last year’s front four leading the charge on defense, it’s been easy to identify Washington’s defensive leader - and he’s been doing it by example from play one at Boise State. The sophomore middle linebacker has 26 tackles - 16 solo stops - and the next best are Keishawn Bierria and Cory Littleton with 16. We’ve always known Victor to be a big hitter, and he used his calling-card to thump Utah State’s Jalen Davis on the opening kickoff to set the tone. He’s doing it on defense and special teams, and as he continues to grow in his role as one who leads by example.
Talking to Victor, you’d be astonished at how mild-mannered and soft-spoken he is. But don’t test him between the lines. One measure of a successful defense is when the leading tacklers are in the front seven. So far the top-three tacklers are all linebackers, led by Victor.
10. Kevin King's transition to cornerback has been seamless
http://www.scout.com/college/washington/story/1589079-post-game-video-cb... With a seeming logjam at safety, Kevin King made the move during the offseason to cornerback, and the junior has come up with three interceptions in three games as a result of that switch. In fact, even though King hasn’t really been starting (he’s listed as an ‘OR’ with Darren Gardenhire), he’s made the most of his opportunities and at 6-foot-3 has used all of his length to his advantage. In fact, King’s three interceptions matches the most of any Husky in 2014, Marcus Peters - and we all know how Peters is doing right now in the NFL. There’s no doubt King will be a vital cog to keep the Huskies’ secondary ticking.
“I think there’s been a lot of football learned by a lot of people tese three weeks,” Petersen said post-game Saturday. “I keep saying, I’m really anxious to see where we are three weeks from now as well.”
And that just might be the biggest thing we’ve learned about the Huskies so far through their ‘pre-season’; this team is growing by leaps and bounds with every game experience. While they may struggle from time to time because of their youth, they are also taking their lessons to heart and should be that much better by the time they make it to October.