Before Browning retook the reins of the offense this week, he first sat down with coaches to talk through his benching at Cal. Bush Hamdan, the Huskies' first-year offensive coordinator, described it as a "tough" meeting with the senior QB.
Same ol’ Jake.
That’s what coaches and teammates said Wednesday about Washington senior quarterback Jake Browning and his preparation to start Saturday’s game against Stanford.
Browning has not spoken publicly since he was benched for two second-half drives in the Huskies’ 12-10 loss at California. He was not made available for his regularly scheduled interview session after practice Wednesday.
How is Jake doing this week?
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“Good. Normal,” junior center Nick Harris said. “He’s just playing quarterback. … He’s been playing quarterback here for a long time. He’s played in a lot of big games, so he understands what needs to happen. He’s a great leader, a great player, so he’s no different. He’s the same Jake screaming out there, having fun in the locker room, messing around. Nothing’s changed.”
Added junior receiver Aaron Fuller: “He’s good. You know, he’s very mentally tough. He takes shots from everybody, whether on the field or off the field. He’s one of the most mentally and physically tough dudes I’ve ever met. So he’s going to come back very strong.”
Before Browning retook the reins of the offense this week, he first sat down with coaches to talk through his benching at Cal. Bush Hamdan, the Huskies’ first-year offensive coordinator, described it as a “tough” meeting with the senior QB.
“It was tough and something we had to talk through between three of us. But he’s ready to go,” Hamdan said, adding: “He’s been great, man. We certainly spent the time we needed to talk about things, but this guy’s a veteran and he understands the importance of being ready to go at all times. He’s as professional as they come. … The guy is as good as it gets.”
Those sentiments echo what UW coach Chris Petersen said Monday when he said Browning would “absolutely” start against Stanford on Saturday at Husky Stadium (6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
“There’s no one I care for more, have more respect for as a football player and as a person, than him. And I’ve been coaching a long time,” Petersen said.
Saturday’s game against Stanford would mark the 49th start of Browning’s career, and he needs one more victory to tie the Pac-12 record of 36 wins by a quarterback.
‘We’ve just got to score points’
Fuller said he sensed a “lack of energy” during practice leading up to the trip to Cal last week.
“I think we kind of looked past Cal … which nipped us in the bud a little bit,” he said. “We had a good first drive, and then after that everything kind of dissipated. It was not a good showing. … That’s my job, and the leaders on this team, to get our minds focused back on that. It kind of goes to me to get the team going.”
The Huskies are averaging 23.8 points per game against Pac-12 opponents, the program’s lowest scoring output since 2008.
“It’s a mixture of a lot of things, but we’ve just got to find a way to get these guys in rhythm, create explosive plays, put points on the board,” Hamdan said. “… We’ve got to be better in the red zone and we’ve got to score more points.”
Fuller is confident the Huskies have the ingredients to spark a quick turnaround.
“I mean, I think our offense is great,” he said. “We’ve had signs of it throughout the season of how powerful we can be. I just think it’s a practice thing. When you have those lulls in practice, it carries over to the games big time. The first drive (at Cal) we were pounding it down their throat and scored a touchdown. Even that second drive until that pick happened, and that was on me. But, yeah, we have the pieces; we just need to put it together.”
The offense has been limited by a rash of injuries — to Myles Gaskin, Hunter Bryant, Salvon Ahmed, Trey Adams, Quinten Pounds, among others — and the Huskies are hoping to be a little healthier this week.
Gaskin (shoulder) and Bryant (knee) both made the trip to Cal and went through pregame warmups but did not play in the game. They are “close” to returning, Petersen has said.
Left tackle Jared Hilbers, who missed the Cal game with an undisclosed injury, is “all good” to return against Stanford, offensive line coach Scott Huff said.
“It’s a gladiator sport, man. Dudes go down. Next man up. That will never be an excuse here,” Huff said. “Does it hurt you? Yeah, sure. But we’ve also seen some really good things come from these players that maybe we weren’t expecting to play as much as they have, and that’s encouraging.”
Without Hilbers, junior Henry Roberts made his first career start against Cal, and redshirt freshman Henry Bainivalu also played significant snaps at left tackle.
“Both of them were solid. It was good,” Huff said. “The standard is the standard whether you win or lose. So you’ve got to take the emotion out of it. Obviously bummed out about losing the game. Crushed. Devastated, right? But you’ve got to be a big boy and say, ‘OK, what was good? What was bad?’ I know we lost, take the emotion out of that. And there’s actually quite a few positives in there when you’re looking at your group. There’s always things we can get better at. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s the truth.”
Adams, out all season with a back injury, has been practicing but is a longshot to play this week, according to a team source.