The question of whether Jake Browning would remain Washington’s starter was supposed to be the last thing on anyone’s mind entering this season. Browning threw 1,096 passes in his first three years as a starter and Washington was the AP’s preseason No. 6 team. This was supposed to be the year it all came together, when the Huskies won the Pac-12 for the second time in three years and made another run at Alabama.
But now, entering the first week of November, Washington is 6-3, unranked and looking up at No. 10 Washington State in the Pac-12 North. The offense, which ranked 10th nationally in yards per play in 2016 and 20th a year ago, has slipped to 40th this season.
And now, heading into a crucial game with Stanford, there were questions whether or not Browning would even start the game.
Browning was 11-of-21 for 148 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 12-10 loss to California, even sitting a couple drives so freshman Jake Haener could play. After rating seventh nationally in pass efficiency in 2016, Browning has slipped to 35th this season, hitting 64.1 percent of his throws for 8.6 yards per attempt with 12 touchdowns against eight picks. His eight picks have come in 237 attempts, he threw five in 336 throws last season.
Asked about it Monday, head Husky Chris Petersen unequivocally stated Browning was still Washington’s starter.
Though the College Football Playoff dream is dead and gone, Washington is still very much in the thick of the hunt for a Rose Bowl bid. Washington can still win the Pac-12 North by winning out, which would require beating Stanford and Oregon State (after an off week) in Seattle and then beating Washington State in Pullman on Nov. 23.