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MVP No. 1 - UW’s most indispensable player

It’s countdown time! A new feature at Dawgman.com, we’re going to ascend daily toward who we perceive to be the most important player to Washington’s success, revealing a new name every day. Today we are down to the number-one most valuable player for the Huskies this fall, and we fall back on a tired, but nonetheless true cliche: it’s the quarterback.

http://www.scout.com/player/179600-jake-browning

For the longest time we’ve always been told that the quarterback is not just the most important player in football, but arguably the most important position player in all of sport. They control everything on offense once a play is called: they control the front; they control any changes based on coverage; they control the direction a play goes once the snap is made. And in many ways they also control the outcome once all those other things take place.

As it’s been with Myles Gaskin, Jake Browning did things as a true freshman at his position that have never been done at Washington before. He nearly doubled Jake Locker’s freshman passing record, and Locker was a redshirt freshman that year.

If Browning throws for 3400 yards this year and 3900 yards in 2017 he will have set Washington’s all-time passing record, currently held by Cody Pickett. And Browning will have done it in three years. Again, an unprecedented achievement by a Husky signal-caller.

All these statistics simply reinforce the idea that Browning is irreplaceable this fall. Sure, other Washington players have incredible value because they can’t be replaced, but not at the most important position on the team. It’s just that simple.

We know what happened when Locker was replaced by Ronnie Fouch in 2008. We know what happened to UW’s season when Isaiah Stanback suffered a Lisfranc injury versus Oregon State in 2006.

In fact, the only time where Washington has been able to get away with playing two quarterbacks was in 1992 with Billy Joe Hobert and Mark Brunell. And even then after Hobert got benched in favor of Brunell after the first five games of the season, Washington lost two of their final six conference games after being ranked No. 1 in the country.

There’s nothing that gives a head coach more comfort than having a quarterback he trusts implicitly. Chris Petersen has that in Jake Browning, a player he hand-picked out of Folsom, California to lead the Washington offense.

Browning took his lumps last year learning Jonathan Smith’s offense, but Washington fans got the reward they were looking for when everything started to click in game 11 when the Huskies thumped Oregon State 52-7.

In the last three games, Washington averaged 47 points on offense. In the last six games of 2015, Washington averaged 484 yards on offense. It’s admittedly cherry-picking statistics, but it’s not the numbers so much as when they happened.

The numbers provide a trend to show that Browning got it. The game was slowing down for him. He was being more accurate with his throws and he was making better decisions. That means he should continue to just get better and better in 2016 now that the foundation has been laid and he can simply play the game with intent and confidence.

Conversely, if Browning had to be replaced, Washington would be back to square one. It’s true that K.J. Carta-Samuels started a game in 2015 - at Stanford - but he was not able to create any separation from junior college transfer Tony Rodriguez in the spring. That battle is expected to continue this fall.

Both Carta-Samuels and Rodriguez are serviceable options, but they aren’t the kind of quarterbacks that will simply be able to pick up where Browning left off. There’s just too much of a gulf in quality and experience between them. The Huskies would literally be starting from scratch if a backup was pressed into action as a long-term solution.

And that’s why Jake Browning is the most valuable player for Washington this fall.



Chris Fetters is the Managing Editor of Dawgman.com. Read more from Chris here. Follow Chris on Twitter: @Chris_Fetters


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