It’s a slow time of year in college football. Spring practices are over, the NFL draft has come and gone, leaving four long months before college football returns to our television screens. We’ll take a look at some questions facing each Pac-12 team over the next couple weeks. Next up: Washington.
Was last season the new normal for the Huskies?
It is. That’s not to say they will make the College Football Playoff at a rate that rivals Alabama, but coach Chris Petersen has built something with staying power. As long as he’s around -- and he’s under contract for nearly $5 million annually until 2023 -- Washington should expect to compete for Pac-12 titles on a yearly basis, which, by default, will keep the Huskies in the mix for future playoff appearances. When the team received a lot of preseason buzz prior to last season, there was some belief that it might have been a year premature. There was an idea that this year, 2017, was the one that really set up well for a Huskies breakthrough. That line of thinking didn’t account for four early departures (John Ross, Budda Baker, Elijah Qualls and Sidney Jones), but it holds true in that this team should still be very good -- Pac-12 title contenders good.
How can the secondary rebound after losing three second-round draft picks?
The most obvious void will be at cornerback, where Jones and Kevin King were as good a pairing as there was in the country. Byron Murphy and Jordan Miller are on track to win those jobs and Murphy, in particular, received a lot of praise for how he played in the spring coming off his redshirt season. The backside is in good shape with JoJo McIntosh returning to play alongside the conference’s defensive freshman of the year, Taylor Rapp. As a whole, it’s unfair to expect the group to play as well as the one it will be replacing, but it’s a very talented collection of players that speaks to how well the program has recruited under Petersen.
Is Jake Browning's injury anything to worry about?
News early in the offseason that Browning needed to undergo surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder provided fans reason for concern, but by the end of spring practice those worries had lessened. Browning returned to practice at about the midway point and Browning and Petersen both said there were no physical restrictions. Still, the injury is something to be mindful of heading into next season, if only for precautionary reasons. The Pac-12 offensive player of the year turned in one of the most impressive seasons in conference history last year -- 3,430 passing yards, 43 touchdowns, 9 interceptions -- but there is still a sense his individual success was more team-driven than some of his counterparts. Not that perception matters to Browning, but another big season -- without John Ross -- would remove any lingering questions about his worth.