About 25 frustrated Washington football players were delayed getting home because of severe weather in Texas.
Moments after completing his first season as the Huskies’ starting quarterback with a victory in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jake Browning already had formulated a short to-do list for the offseason.
Before getting to any of that, though, he would have to find a way to scramble out of Dallas.
As a true freshman, Browning threw for 2,955 yards, the fifth-highest season total in Washington history, including 284 yards in the 44-31 victory over Southern Mississippi on Saturday. His reward for the bowl-game victory was nearly a full day spent in the Dallas airport, stranded along with a couple dozen teammates trying to get home for the new year.
By the numbers
Average total offensive yards per game for freshman quarterback Jake Browning
Average rushing yards per game for freshman running back Myles Gaskin, who used his 181 yards against Southern Miss to break past the century mark
More points UW scored in the third quarter this season, winning the battle 135-56
Receptions by senior Jaydon Mickens to lead the team. He also led with 692 receiving yards
4 and 2
Team-leading number of interceptions (4) and fumble returns (2) by sophomore defensive back Sidney Jones
As of Sunday evening, at least a few UW players were still stuck in Dallas because of severe weather over the weekend. Shortly after the conclusion of the bowl game, tornadoes touched down in the area, leaving 11 people dead.
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Many flights scheduled out of Dallas were canceled Saturday night. Early Sunday morning, a powerful lightning storm also delayed flights. And this being one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, few seats were open the next morning for the displaced travelers from Saturday night.
Washington’s chartered flight back to Seattle — carrying coaches, staffers, administrators and about half of the players on the roster — had only a short delay leaving Dallas on Saturday night. It landed in Seattle around midnight.
Most of the rest of the players — many, like Browning, trying to get home to California — spent a frustrating night scattered in the Dallas airport.
Washington’s winter-term classes don’t start until after the new year, so players scheduled separate flights home to spend the next week or so with family.
“I’m so hurt you don’t even know,” defensive back Brandon Lewis tweeted Sunday morning.
“I just want to see my family God please clear the skies,” linebacker Keishawn Bierria tweeted.
Linebacker Azeem Victor, trying to get home to Los Angeles, was in the airport for almost 24 hours before he said he was finally scheduled to board a flight at 6:19 p.m. CST Sunday.
Offensive lineman Dane Crane was asleep in Dallas’ baggage claim area when he was awakened by a call from his mom at 2 a.m. Sunday. She had arranged for him to take a shuttle to the Austin airport, more than three hours away.
About five hours after that, around 9 a.m. PST, Crane had arrived home in Southern California.
“Crazy episode,” Crane said. “I feel bad for some of the guys still in Dallas. Couldn’t have been a nicer week, and then I felt like Helen Hunt in the movie ‘Twister’ by Saturday night.”
Browning moving forward
After, presumably, some down time with family back in Granite Bay, Calif., Browning said he was eager to get started on offseason plans back at UW.
The 6-foot-2, 206-pounder, who arrived on the UW campus last January, gained about 5 pounds while working with strength coach Tim Socha last spring and summer.
He expects to gain a few more pounds this offseason while hoping to get “bigger, faster, stronger” going through the conditioning program.
“It’s not like I’m filled out, at all,” he deadpanned after the bowl game.
His top priority this offseason, he said, is to improve the touch on his deep passes, sounding a bit perplexed by his lack of execution on such plays this year.
“I had a great deep ball in high school,” he said, “and I’ve got to go back and watch (film) and see what was happening there.”
By the end of the season, UW coach Chris Petersen said his expectations for Browning were high enough that he didn’t need to treat him like a true freshman anymore. Certainly, expectations will be even higher next year.
“In some ways, we expect every ball to be hit when we have a chance. So when he misses things, I can get really frustrated (and) I think it’s because our expectations — we know what he can do,” Petersen said. “It’s the hardest position to play in all sports. He’s done a great job all year, and we’re proud of him.”