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Fall Camp Preview: Quarterback

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The Pac-12 Offensive MVP returns, but after that it gets a little cloudy

NCAA Football: Washington Spring Game Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Browning really gussied up his resume in 2016:

  • 43 TD passes tied the Pac-12 record and shattered Keith Price’s school best of 33
  • 7th in the nation in passing efficiency and tops in the Pac-12 conference
  • Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year
  • Sixth in Heisman Trophy voting

Still, my favorite JB moment was week six at Autzen Stadium in Eugene when he accounted for eight touchdowns and led the Huskies to a 70-21 annihilation of the Oregon Ducks. Browning even made himself a bit of a villain to the Duck faithful with his “arrogant,” “classless” and “tasteless” pointing gesture at Oregon linebacker Jimmie Swain.

I, for one, wish Browning had gone full Babu Bhatt and wagged that index finger a little.

After all, when the Husky QB faked a hand-off and jogged into the endzone all by himself, it was first (of many) demonstrations by Oregon that their defense planned to offer the resistance of a soaking wet paper towel.

How many pushups would a finger wag be good for? I mean, if it’s still 500 then go for it:

But Jake Browning is boring. And the whole “Pointgate” episode was uncharacteristic of a guy who never really says anything. If his interviews went on long enough, I think I could recline in my La-Z-Boy and sneak in an afternoon nap the quality of which is normally reserved for the 3rd round of the Masters. “Let’s go to Verne Lundquist at 16...” ...ZZZZZZZZ.

Why Browning made the gesture we will never really know, but he did it and I liked it. His teammates loved it; that’s their leader and they don’t really care if opponents like him or not.

A fully-healthy Jake Browning is a known commodity, one that dissects opposing defenses and swiftly distributes the ball to whomever is open. A 75% healthy Jake Browning is still pretty damn good. His proficiency in Chris Petersen’s offense combined with great awareness of what defenses are doing make him an elite college signal caller.

Behind Browning, the quarterback roster is far less imposing.

Husky Quarterback Depth Chart

Uniform # Player Height Weight Class Games Played
Uniform # Player Height Weight Class Games Played
3 Jake Browning 6'2" 205 Jr 26
11 KJ Carta-Samuels 6'2" 219 Jr 11
17 Daniel Bridge-Gadd 6'2" 210 RFr 0
13 Jake Haener 6'0" 193 Fr 0

The Backups

Tony Rodriguez has graduated and chosen to skip his final year of eligibility. We here at the ‘Pound wish Tony and his new family the very best.

Junior KJ Carta-Samuels has played in 11 games during his Husky career. His one start was in 2015 at Stanford and the result was not great. Other than a Myles Gaskin-led TD drive to open the second half, the UW offense struggled mightily. It’s that one game two seasons ago that makes Husky fans nervous about a potential Browning injury.

Carta-Samuels has since appeared in mop-up duty seven times, six last season, completing 9 of 13 passes and tossing three TDs. He also has gotten the occasional QB sneak on what is essentially a short-yardage trick play, so KJ has been on the field and has far and away the most experience of any other QB on the roster. Most think the backup job is his based on that experience, but I’m not totally sold on that.

Redshirt Freshman and former Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Arizona Daniel Bridge-Gadd may push for the backup job in fall camp. Although our only real chance to see Bridge-Gadd has been in two Spring Previews, he has looked decisive and appears to have a good command of the offense. His delivery is slightly unorthodox, but his passes are timely and accurate. Carta-Samuels has great value as a trick-play option for Chris Petersen, so Bridge-Gadd winning the backup job could allow KJCS to take on a different role. Am I suggesting the CartaCat offense? No. No damn way. Perhaps a double pass or something sneaky like that.

Incoming Freshman Jake Haener out of Monte Vista High School in the Bay Area figures to redshirt in 2017. Haener is a heady QB who will be an asset in quarterback meeting room. Haener is the prototypical Chris Petersen non-prototypical quarterback: Undersized with average arm strength, but smart, laser-accurate and possesses nimble feet in the pocket.

With only four QBs on the current roster, a walk-on or two must be looming in the shadows.

Conclusion

Husky fans are hoping Browning can stay 100% healthy in 2017, but that’s unlikely. He’s played hurt during his first two years and will likely need to do the same this fall. Hopefully the extra conditioning work he put in during the off-season will aid him in playing through his bumps, bruises, tears, strains or whatever else the rigors of a Pac-12 schedule bring. And if one of these other guys is called on for meaningful snaps, we can still feel confident. He will have the advantage of a veteran offensive line and strong supporting cast to lean on.