K.J. Carta-Samuels, Tony Rodriguez and Daniel Bridge-Gadd are expected to get extra snaps as Browning recovers from January shoulder surgery.
To count down the start of the Huskies’ spring football on March 27, we’ll take a daily look at each position unit, assessing what happened in 2016 and expectations for 2017.
Projected depth chart:
Jake Browning, 6-2, 205, jr.
K.J. Carta-Samuels, 6-2, 219, rs-jr.
Tony Rodriguez, 6-3, 188, sr.
Daniel Bridge-Gadd, 6-2, 210, rs-fr.
Blake Gregory, 6-2, 180, rs-fr.
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2016 review: Browning gave Husky fans just about everything they could have hoped for from the quarterback position last fall. He finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting, the second-best finish ever for a Husky. He tied the Pac-12 record with 43 touchdown passes, shattering Keith Price‘s school record of 33. He was named the conference’s offensive player of the year, the first Husky to win that award since Marques Tuiasosopo in 2000. He led an offense that set school records in touchdowns scored (77), points (585) and scoring average (41.8). And over the final three-plus games — including another rout of Washington State in the Apple Cup and a blowout of Colorado in the Pac-12 championship game — he played with an injury to his throwing shoulder that required surgery in January. Browning’s numbers in 14 starts as a sophomore: 243-for-391 (.621), 3,430 yards, 43 TDs, 9 INT; 65 carries, 45 yards, 4 TDs.
2017 outlook: Browning’s shoulder surgery isn’t a small concern, but it’s probably not a significant one either. Remember, he did injure the same right shoulder as a true freshman 2015 late in the game against Oregon, which forced him to miss the next game at Stanford. Both injuries were deemed minor, but — not to be an alarmist — the dings are starting to add up, and that’s certainly at least notable for any quarterback’s throwing arm. It’s smart for UW coaches to take a cautious approach to Browning’s recovery, and Chris Petersen indicated they would do just that with this spring. Browning, Petersen said last month, is “doing really good” and would be available to participated in spring ball, though in a limited role. “You know,” Petersen said, “Jake is one of those guys that just loves to throw and throw and throw. So from really when he got here, we’ve been trying to back him off (after) these long years, to make sure. And so he should be fine for spring ball, but also want to give these other (quarterbacks) some really good work in spring ball.”
That’s good news for the development of the two primary backups, veterans Carta-Samuels and Rodriguez, and even better for young Bridge-Gadd, who figure to share snaps equally during the 15 spring practices. Carta-Samuels and Rodriguez were locked in a tight competition for the No. 2 job last fall, with Carta-Samuels emerging as the primary backup. Bridge-Gadd was the scout team’s offensive player of the year and drew strong reviews in the buildup to the Peach Bowl for his imitation of Alabama’s Jalen Hurts. Note that incoming freshman Jake Haener, who signed last month, is expected to enroll over the summer.