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Fall Position Preview - Quarterback 

With less than 50 days to Washington's September 3rd opener versus Rutgers, it's time to ramp things up with our fall position previews. Up today is a look at the Husky quarterbacks.

While Head Coach Chris Petersen is doing everything he can to derail the hype train, it keeps on chugging along. And a lot of that hype is because of the potential of Washington's skill players, and that starts with a quarterback recently named to the Davey O'Brien Award watch list for the best college quarterback. 

Here's a smattering of what the national pundits have been saying about Jake Browning this offseason. 

Athlon - "Petersen has praised Browning's toughness, and, with the exception of the opener last year, he didn't hold anything back from the freshman in terms of the playbook. The Huskies went 1-3 in one-score games last season. They only need a few breaks - and Browning's continued development - to become a division contender."

Athlon, who named Browning the best Pac-12 quarterback under pressure - "Held up well for a true freshman, even with a young line that didn't protect him all that much."

Lindy's - "With a backfield core of Browning and (Myles) Gaskin and a talented defense, the Huskies are ready for a legitimate run at the Pac-12 North title. 

ESPN - "You saw his improvement over the course of the year. Young guys get better, but not every young guy gets better over the course of his first year like he did. A lot of times it's Year 1 to Year 2, maybe, but you saw marked improvement. He does really well in their system." - Pac-12 defensive coach.

You get the point. Everyone is expecting Jake Browning to make jumps this season, and that's with the true sophomore already having a 3000-yard season under his belt. That's impressive, and it also underscores Browning's potential for turning Washington offense into a juggernaut. 

But knowing Browning, last year is just that - in the past. It's time to take the next steps in his development and direct an offense that shows signs of potency late in 2015, but mostly struggled to find a consistent threat. They scored 40 points or more in as many games as they scored 20 points or less (five), so finding that regular scoring rhythm will be paramount. 

Obviously a lot of that inconsistency can be chalked up to Browning learning on the job, and to his credit he absolutely got better as the season progressed. But the pressure was there for him to perform, because the Washington coaches had clearly put the long-term outlook front and center by picking Browning to start the season over a perceived safer, more experienced candidate like Jeff Lindquist (who has since moved to tight end). 

Over the course of the year, Browning only missed one game - at Stanford - so he proved to be a durable signal-caller for a true freshman. He's only gotten bigger, faster, and stronger, so more check marks in the plus column there. 


Quarterbacks (by year)

Anthony Berg (6-2, 212, Sr.)* 

Tony Rodriguez (6-3, 185, RJr.)  

K.J. Carta-Samuels (6-2, 219, RSo.) 

Jake Browning (6-2, 205, So.) 

Daniel Bridge-Gadd (6-2, 185, Fr.) 

Blake Gregory (6-3, 170, Fr.)*


Projected Depth Chart

Jake Browning (6-2, 205, So.) 

K.J. Carta-Samuels (6-2, 219, RSo.) OR

Tony Rodriguez (6-3, 185, RJr.)

Anthony Berg (6-2, 212, Sr.)* 

Daniel Bridge-Gadd (6-2, 185, Fr.)

Blake Gregory (6-3, 170, Fr.)*


Where does the Quarterback group stand heading into the fall? 

This is going to be a sore point for some Washington fans, but when strictly looking at recent comparisons for Browning and his development, 2016 has the feel of 2008 about it. Bear with me for a moment: that season was Jake Locker's second as signal-caller after struggling to find a lot of consistency as a redshirt freshman. 

But 2008 was going to be a different story. Offensive Coordinator Tim Lappano had seen what Locker was capable of doing in 2007, so he built an offense completely around Jake's dual threat. It would be the Montlake Jake show every Saturday that fall. After three rough games to start the season (including the infamous 28-27 loss to BYU after Locker was penalized for excessive celebration), Locker was hurt versus Stanford, an injury that put him out the rest of the season. 

We all know what happened after that: true freshman Ronnie Fouch was pressed into action in an offense he couldn't run, and the Huskies couldn't reinvent themselves with even a basic attack. And on top of that, they didn't have a running back they could rely on. By season's end the leading tailback was Terrence Dailey with 338 yards.  The most points they would score from the Stanford game on was 19. 


The point of bringing up this painful past is that 2016 will mark Jake Browning's second as a starter. Much like 2008 promising big things for Locker heading into that campaign, Browning is poised for much the same. 

Obviously that's where the comparisons end between 2008 and 2016.  

Even if (knock on wood) Browning was hurt at some point during the season, K.J. Carta-Samuels and Tony Rodriguez can run Jonathan Smith's offense. It's a lot more balanced, for starters, and it's an offense that they've seen for a whole year. Carta-Samuels started the Stanford game, and while it wasn't an auspicious debut for the Bay Area native, it was something he could definitely build on. And Rodriguez really came on at the end of spring, turning himself into a legitimate threat for the backup role. 

And the offensive coaches in 2008 had to replace a 1300-yard back in Louis Rankin, while 2016 has one returning in Myles Gaskin. 

All this is to say that the quarterback position is in solid shape. It's not brimming with backups capable of picking up where Browning left off without a hitch, but it's a rare season where that's the case. They do have Carta-Samuels with starting experience, and that can't be ignored. 

Watching Rodriguez this fall will be key. He may make it very tough for the coaches if presented with an opportunity to play. 

But all of that talk is academic because it's Jake Browning's world and they are simply biding their time until he finishes his Husky career - probably as UW's all-time leading passer if form holds. Cody Pickett's 10,220 career yards is well within reach if Browning simply ups his output by 15 percent each year the next two seasons - very doable. 

He already decimated the freshman mark set by Locker in 2007 of 2,062 yards, and Locker was a redshirt freshman that season. 

It would mean going from 2955 yards in 2015 to 3398 in 2016 to 3907 yards in 2017. And then straight to the NFL draft, because those numbers mirror a similar progression to another Pac-12 quarterback who was named a starter as a true freshman and recently taken as the number-one player overall in the 2016 NFL Draft - Jared Goff. 

If Browning can imitate Goff's production and development, there's no question Washington's offense can take off and, more importantly - stay there. 


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