Dawgman.com Post-Season Position Analysis: Quarterbacks

Now that the 2015 season is over, it's time to pick up the pieces and see where each position group stacked up over the course of the year. Where did they start, and where did they end up? Did they take steps forward in their development, or did they flatline? First up, the quarterbacks.

Quarterback (by class)

5 Jeff Lindquist (6-3, 244, Jr.)
10 Tony Rodriguez (6-3, 185, Jr.)
14 Anthony Berg (6-2, 205, Jr.)*
11 K.J. Carta-Samuels (6-2, 219, So.)
3 Jake Browning (6-2, 205, Fr.)
* Walk-on

Where does the quarterback position find itself after the season?

In some ways, this is the one position that finished in a completely different place from where it started in fall camp - and in some ways that shouldn't come as a surprise.

Heading into fall, no quarterback was a clear-cut favorite to win the starting job for the Boise State game, so it was a three-horse race between Jeff Lindquist, K.J. Carta-Samuels, and Jake Browning. So the Washington staff had a dilemma; do they go with the steady, yet unspectacular hand of Lindquist, the promise of Carta-Samuels, or the wild card in the true freshman?

As we found out, they went with the wild card. We were told that it was Browning's play during the non-media attended practices that really caught their attention, his poise and potential. There's no doubt that Browning was their hand-picked choice, going all the way back to his time at Folsom High School outside of Sacramento - so it stands to reason they would gamble on him to take them forward in 2015.

How did it work out for the Huskies? As an offense they went from 179 total yards and no offensive touchdowns in a miserable Boise State outing to outscoring their last two opponents by 80 points and 350 yards. And one of those teams was ranked in the top-20. And one could argue much of that improvement and development as an offense matched the improvement and development of Browning.

3 Jake Browning (6-2, 205, Fr.) - What a year it has been for Browning. He went from a scrawny freshman stepping in the deep end of the Pac-12 pool and came out smiling on the other side. And barely wet. Browning finished the regular season with 2671 yards passing, completing 63 percent of his passes. He obliterated almost all the freshman passing records, and his passing yardage puts him top-10 all-time for a season. His 242.8 yards passing per game and passing completion percentage puts him top-5 all-time for a season in both categories. Long story short, Browning had the most impressive true freshman campaign in the history of Husky Football, and it's no contest.

Clearly Browning has the head and the temperament for the position; there's no way he could flourish otherwise. Mechanically he still needs to find better touch on his deep passes and more consistency within the pocket, but his improvement has been steady and sure. His biggest development points have come more within running the offense in general and his decision-making. He's learned to take the 'easy money' and his recognition of defenses allowed him to improve the Huskies' third-down conversion rate the final two games to 43.5 percent. They finished the year 10th at 36.5 percent, so you can tell how much they struggled on third down, as well as the improvement at the end of the season.

11 K.J. Carta-Samuels (6-2, 219, RFr.) - Carta-Samuels was the staff's choice for backup, and he really only was tested in 2015 when he had to spot-start for Browning at Stanford. The Cardinal are a very good team, but it was still a bit of a shambles for the redshirt frosh, going 9-21 for 118 yards and no touchdowns. The good part is that he didn't throw any interceptions, but their total of 45 plays run meant he never really established an opportunity to show what he can do. As a result the Huskies were never in the game, probably the one game all season where you can make that declaration. His modus operandi is as an athletic quarterback who appears to be a jack-of-all-trades but master of none to date. He has time to grow under Browning, and offers up a reasonable alternative if the number-one can't go. But he needs to continue ramping up his learning curve this spring because the Huskies need more than just an adequate backup.

5 Jeff Lindquist (6-3, 244, Jr.) - Other than the rapid ascension of Browning to his rightful place atop Washington's quarterbacking heap, the lack of Lindquist's presence in 2015 was the main storyline of the season. Outside of special teams, where he held for kicks and often guarded on punts, Lindquist was a non-factor on the field for the Huskies after it looked like he might be a Wildcat option. Given where we thought he was in fall camp, his disappearing act was a revelation in reverse. It's not in Jeff's nature to take the move poorly; in fact he continued to do everything asked of him and clearly played a prominent role on the sideline helping Browning through the season. But his play in spring and fall camps certainly seemed to offer up a lot more than he showed. It will be interesting to see if the competition picks up in the spring where it left off or if the pecking order remains and becomes more entrenched as a result.

10 Tony Rodriguez (6-3, 185, Jr.) - Rodriguez was a late signee from the City College of San Francisco and was expected to jump in the mix for playing time if Browning couldn't make the move. Clearly two things happened: 1) Browning was more than capable of making the move to starter; 2) Rodriguez wasn't. So he redshirted. That's not a great sign, as BCS-level teams don't sign junior college quarterbacks to redshirt. They are usually brought in as immediate help. But now Rodriguez had a whole season to learn the D1 ropes, and we'll see if he comes out firing for a legitimate opportunity in 2016 or if he turns out to just be another body buried in the depth.

14 Anthony Berg (6-2, 205, Jr.) - Berg walked on to help with the scout team.

Overall Position Grade

As poor as the quarterbacks looked to start the season, progress was absolutely made and they ended the year on a high note. That's how you want a position group to be. If they are going to struggle, do it early, push past it, improve and learn from mistakes made. And that's what Jake Browning did. Obviously he is still far from the finished article, but the promise is apparent and the future is bright indeed. But after him the group looks grim. K.J. Carta-Samuels was thrown to the wolves at Stanford, and he reacted as you would expect a first-time starter to react. And we really never got to see him in meaningful action from that point on. And while Jeff Lindquist offers up a seasoned vet in case of emergency, his Wildcat experiment was shut down fairly early and he became a non-factor on offense.


Projected 2016 Spring QB depth chart

3 Jake Browning (6-2, 205, So.

11 K.J. Carta-Samuels (6-2, 219,So.)

5 Jeff Lindquist (6-3, 244, Sr.)

10 Tony Rodriguez (6-3, 185, Jr.)

14 Anthony Berg (6-2, 205, Jr.)*

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