Jake Browning knew the game would largely depend on the production from his right shoulder. After a 24-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama, Washington’s sophomore quarterback shouldered much of the blame.
Blitzed late in the first half, the Folsom High School graduate lamented his interception late in the second quarter that was returned for a touchdown, giving Alabama a 17-7 lead going into halftime.
“They’ve had some games where it gets close and then they get a defensive touchdown and then it starts rolling,” he said. “I’ve just got to throw it away. Stop trying to make something out of nothing.”
Washington’s offensive line, with true freshman Nick Harris starting at right guard, was overmatched against an Alabama front seven that’s the best in college football. Though he was sacked five times, Browning was careful not to be critical of his line.
“I’ve just got to do my job going through my reads. If I start to worry about all that (protection), that’s not my job. That’s the O-linemen, and I thought they did a good job of that,” he said. “I thought I walked into some sacks and I’ve got to be better with the ball and sit in there a couple days. But we’ll know more when we see the film. That’s the best defense we’ve gone against, and I’m anxious to see how it looked on film and how we stacked up. Obviously, it hurts right now.”
Browning completed 11 of his first 13 passes, finding running back Myles Gaskin on screen passes or check downs, but completed just nine of his final 25 attempts. He threw for 150 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
“They’re as good as they were on film,” Browning said of Alabama’s defense. “We thought they were good coming in and we had to answer a million questions about them being good, so we knew they were good. We’ve just got to make a couple more plays here and there and not turn the ball over.”
The sense from the Huskies in the buildup to the national semifinal was they belonged on the same field as Alabama.
“We don’t have anybody on the team that’s just going to back down,” Browning said. “Everybody fights and everybody’s working as hard as they can and giving all they can, and sometimes when you turn the ball over like we did you come up short.”
Browning said he was disappointed for the Huskies’ seniors.
“To come into the program the way they did,” he said, “not far removed from a winless season (in 2008) and to leave it how it is now, they really set the stage for some of the younger guys and myself to really take this program to the next level.”
By the numbers
1: Touchdown passes for Browning.
2: Interceptions thrown by Browning.
2: Bowl games Browning has played in. He helped Washington win the Heart of Dallas Bowl last season, 44-31 over Southern Mississippi.
5: Times Browning was sacked.
16: Yards on Browning’s touchdown pass to Dante Pettis.
26: Yards on Ryan Anderson’s interception-return touchdown after picking off Browning.
52.6: Completion percentage for Browning. He was 20 of 38.
150: Passing yards for Browning.
194: Total yards for Washington, a season low.
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Compiled by Noel Harris