Washington QB Jake Browning Presents Toughest Test of Season for Alabama
Washington's best chance of pulling off an upset in the College Football Playoff semifinals might very well reside in the arm of quarterback Jake Browning.
The sophomore will be the best quarterback Alabama's vaunted defense has faced this year, and the Huskies will likely have to rely on him to move the ball in Saturday's Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Browning's 176.51 passer rating ranks fifth nationally and he's just one of four quarterbacks to throw for 40+ touchdowns this season.
"He understands the offense," Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said. "He understands what they're trying to get done. He doesn't hold the ball. He knows where he's going with the ball. He throws guys open. He's got a very good understanding of the run game."
That understanding has produced big results for Chris Petersen's offense in 2016. Washington scored at least 30 points in 12 of 13 games and ranks third in the country with 76 total touchdowns. But it's what Browning doesn't do that makes the Huskies tough to beat.
"I'd say the big thing is he protects the football," Pruitt said. "There's very few interceptions, very few turnovers, which is very important."
The Alabama defense also recognized Browning's ability to keep plays alive with his feet.
"One thing that Browning doesn't get enough credit for is his versatility," defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said. "He's a very athletic running quarterback. So after breaking down the film time after time, you see linebackers and defensive backs missing tackles on him and they're making great throws down the field. That's something I don't think he gets enough credit for. That's definitely something we've been practicing for."
While Browning might be the top quarterback Alabama has faced all season, this will also be the stiffest defense the quarterback has faced in 2016. The side that has the most success on Saturday could very well determine the outcome of the game.