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SEATTLE -- Only 1:30 separated then-No.1 Alabama and No.4 Washington in time of possession in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in late December. No doubt due to the Huskies top-ranked defense holding its own against the Tide offense was UW able to keep the margin that close.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning managed just one touchdown drive against Nick Saban's defense, an eight play drive capped by a 16-yard completion on the Huskies second drive of the game. Browning was not sacked on the drive and completed four of five pass attempts.
The rest of the game drew from a different script, with the Huskies managing just 10 total yards of offense in the third quarter and leading to their 24-7 loss to Alabama. Browning showed significant signs of what later became known as a shoulder injury suffered against Arizona State at Husky Stadium on Nov. 19.
Since the loss in the CFB playoffs Browning has had surgery on his throwing shoulder, but an injury that isn't expected to impact his junior season. UW is expected to hold off on extending Browning beyond the minimum, giving a chance for redshirt junior K.J. Carta-Samuels and redshirt freshman Daniel Bridge-Gadd to get extended reps this spring.
Both backups have been named Scout Team MVP on offense over the past couple seasons, but only Carta-Samuels has seen significant game snaps. The former four-star recruit has appeared in 11 total games at Washington, including one start against then-No.10 Stanford in 2015.
With Browning cemented as the starter, and with Carta-Samuels a potential graduate transfer following the 2017 season should Browning return for a senior season, the opportunity is there for the "next Jake Browning" to emerge.
UW also has senior Tony Rodriguez, signed in the summer of 2016 as additional insurance with the depth chart seeming a little slimmer than preferred. He is expected to get additional practice snaps with Browning not taking as many, but Rodriguez is viewed within the duo competing for the No.2 spot but not as high.
Recently signed QB Jake Haener will redshirt his freshman season in '17, and will compete against Bridge-Gadd, Carta-Samuels and 2018 four-star commit Jacob Sirmon who will enroll early at UW in January 2018.