Washington Huskies head coach Chris Petersen has shed some interesting light on why Jake Browning faded down the stretch.
No matter how you look at it, Jake Browning had a sensational sophomore season for the Washington Huskies. His list of accomplishments was extremely impressive, including setting a new school record with 43 touchdown passes in one season.
Further, if we’re honest, Browning probably did more than was expected from him, which gives you some idea of how special he truly is. Regardless, there is no getting around the fact he faded down the stretch.
Through the first nine games of the season, the 2016 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year completed nearly 68 percent of his passes, for 34 touchdowns and just three interceptions. However, during the final five games, his completion efficiency dropped to 55 percent, as he threw for nine scores and six picks.
One of the most noticeable issues which contributed to this slump, was an apparent loss of arm strength for Browning. It turns out this was linked to a shoulder injury he suffered against USC, which coincided with the start of his dip in form.
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Huskies’ head coach Chris Petersen was asked about his quarterback’s fading production on Thursday, while appearing on the Brock and Salk show. However, while he didn’t go into specific details, he did allude to Browning having suffered an injury.
Petersen said: “I don’t necessarily think his arm strength has waned. I do think he was fighting through some things as the season went on because he’s a tough guy – we had to do some things.”
The two-time Paul “Bear” Bryant Award winner went on to praise his team’s resolve as a whole, before returning to Browning: “We’ve got some tough kids on our team. Those kids, they fight through some things, and we don’t talk about who’s hurt and all this stuff, but Jake’s a tough kid and I’ll just say that.”
Understandably, the news that Browning was playing through an injury, leaves Huskies’ fans wondering what might have been. Given how well the defense played against Alabama, could a healthy quarterback have made the game even closer?
Petersen said: “We’ve got to create some things for him to give him some more options and the receivers have to be able to shake loose a little bit better. One of the things we said about Alabama going in, you know, No. 1 run defense in the country, but the most impressive thing to me might have been how they rush the passer.”
The former Boise State head coach acknowledged Browning’s loss of arm strength affected what the Huskies’ offense could do against the Crimson Tide: “We’re tying to create things to get the ball out of Jake’s hand quickly, but yet you gotta be able to take some shots down the field, so it was a tough dilemma going against these guys.”
Overall, Huskies’ fans should be excited for what next season brings. Yes, the loss of John Ross hurts, but this should be offset by a fully-recovered, more experienced 20-year old Browning pulling the trigger.
In this respect, Petersen concluded by saying: “I’m really proud of Jake and I think he’s going to continue to get better and just keep progressing.”
What are you predicting for Browning next season? Do you expect him to take the next step in his development and help the Huskies remain in contention for the College Football playoffs? Share your thoughts in the comments section.