An injury to quarterback Jake Browning’s throwing shoulder is now the focus as the Washington Huskies prepare to play at Stanford on Saturday.
Already, questions abound about Washington’s offense.
Now, a new one: How badly hurt is Jake Browning’s throwing shoulder?
Immediate after the Huskies’ 26-20 loss to Oregon late Saturday, UW coach Chris Petersen said he believed that Browning would not be sidelined for an extended period. But Petersen didn’t sound convinced, or convincing, when asked about the extent of the quarterback’s injury.
“I don’t think so,” Petersen said, “but I hope not. I really don’t.”
It appeared that Browning, a true freshman, was injured late in the fourth quarter when he was sacked from behind by Oregon’s Tyson Coleman, with Browning’s right shoulder jammed into the artificial turf. Browning appeared to have fumbled on the play, but that wound up being a moot point when the Ducks were called for a personal-foul penalty.
Browning remained in the game, and three plays later he threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Jaydon Mickens, cutting UW’s deficit to 26-20 with 3:35 left.
As Oregon took possession, ESPN cameras showed UW trainer Rob Scheidegger rubbing and stretching Browning’s shoulder on the sideline. Browning grimaced periodically. It’s possible he had a stinger, a nerve injury that is typically less serious. For a quarterback’s throwing arm or shoulder, though, it can be restricting, and Browning was not able to take the field when the Huskies got the ball back with 1:11 left at their own 20-yard line.
Instead, with Washington trailing by six points, backup QB K.J. Carta-Samuels made his first appearance in a Pac-12 game. He was able to gain a first down after runs of 6 and 10 yards, and he completed his first pass to running back Lavon Coleman for a 6-yard gain. The redshirt freshman’s final pass was, however, intercepted at the Oregon 36-yard line with 24 seconds left, sealing the Ducks’ 12th consecutive victory in the rivalry.
“He’s been practicing pretty well and throwing some good balls and that kind of thing,” Petersen said of Carta-Samuels. “It’s a little unfortunate we had to put him in that situation to see if he could really operate (the offense).”
As a general rule, Petersen does not provide injury updates on players with short-term injuries, so it’s uncertain whether Browning’s status will be known this week. Washington plays at Stanford on Saturday in another 7:30 p.m. game.
On the clock
Petersen was questioned after the game about the Huskies’ clock management on their final touchdown drive. Yes, UW scored on the Browning-to-Mickens connection, but the drive took 5 minutes, 22 seconds — ending with 3:35 left — when the Huskies were trailing by 13 points before that final TD.
“We were trying to get the best plays we could get,” Petersen said. “We could have had a little more urgency, but we’ll go back and analyze that.”
Petersen said he didn’t want to use the timeout he ended up calling with 3:41 left, after about 20 seconds had ticked off from the previous play. But the Huskies coach said there was “a lot of confusion” on the play call and the wrong personnel was on the field.
“It was going to end bad, so we called a timeout to get a better play and we ended up scoring,” Petersen said. “It hurts when you’ve got to do that.”
Sophomore nose tackle Elijah Qualls was asked how disappointing the loss was to rival Oregon.
“Twelve-years disappointing,” he said.
“You don’t even have to be here for those 12 years to understand what that means,” he added. “The fact that the other program doesn’t respect you because they’ve beat you for so many years … they have all the reason to see us as not a rivalry. It was a lot better game than we usually have, but they keep winning.”