SEATTLE (AP) Chris Petersen is already hearing the accolades being bestowed upon Washington freshman quarterback Jake Browning.
While it’s not undeserved, Petersen wants it made clear there are plenty of others helping Browning look so good so early into his college career.
”Teammates are going to have to continue to step up for him and pass protect a little bit better and we’re going to have to run the ball and receivers are going to have to make plays to give him a chance,” Petersen said Monday. ”Everybody wants to talk about him and he’s done some good things, but some guys around him have done some good things. As it gets tougher everybody else has to help him out.”
Three games into his college career, Browning is already showing the look of the next great passer to come through Washington’s program. After an expected slow start in the season opener at Boise State, Browning has rebounded with consecutive 300-yard passing games as the Huskies (2-1) head into Pac-12 Conference play on a high note.
Browning threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns in Washington’s 31-17 win over Utah State last Saturday. Browning threw an interception on his first pass of the second half then completed his next 12 throws, including a pair of touchdowns. It was the most yards passing by a freshman in Washington history.
”That’s the thing, he has progressed. He’s looking more and more comfortable and confident out there,” Washington offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith said. ”Been kind of impressed he’s been able to extend the plays a couple of times. I thought that would have been an issue, but he’s escaped so far.”
Browning will never be considered a dual-threat quarterback. He’s a traditional passer from the pocket and was recruited by the Huskies for his pure passing ability. But his ability to extend plays by moving in the pocket or sometimes scrambling away from trouble before making the throw has caught his coaches by surprise.
Browning did just that for two of his touchdowns against Utah State. On his 81-yard touchdown to Dwayne Washington, Browning scrambled to his left and went through his progressions before dropping the pass off to Washington and letting the running back use his speed to race down the sideline for the score.
The 3-yard TD pass to Drew Sample was even more impressive. Browning spun away from the pass rush and rolled to the sideline before flipping the pass to Sample, who wasn’t even supposed to be an option on the play.
”I don’t think that’s necessarily what we thought of as being one of his strengths,” Petersen said. ”I think anytime a guy can get some things done with his feet, especially when you know he’s a pocket passer, it’s always going to be a benefit.”
While Browning has shined, the Huskies’ running game must improve to help out the quarterback, especially with conference play starting this weekend against California. The Huskies rushed for just 29 yards against Boise State and 74 yards against Utah State, sandwiched around a big day versus Sacramento State.
”I could be a broken record all year. If we don’t run the ball better, I’ll be saying the same thing,” Petersen said.
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