If the Huskies were given five more minutes in their Rose Bowl defeat last season, we might have seen one of the most miraculous comebacks in college football history. Sadly, this wasn’t the case and the Huskies fell to Ohio State 28–23 after being down 28–3 at one point in the third quarter. While this was their first Rose Bowl appearance since 2001, which is considered one of the highest honors to play in, the loss left a bitter taste in the coaching staff and the returning players. The team will look to fill holes with new faces and take the next step into bringing a national championship back to Montlake.
Every NCAA football team is given around four weeks in the spring for practice before the actual start of the regular season in August. This is the perfect place for coaches to gain a better understanding of their team and who will most likely step up and fill the empty spots left by the class of 2018. The Huskies will wrap up their spring practices next week, but will still have big questions to answer heading into the regular season.
One of the biggest question marks on the roster is who will replace four-year starter and the UW all-time passing leader quarterback Jake Browning. Browning set the bar for every Husky quarterback in the future by winning the more games in his four year career than any other past QB has before. The easy answer would be the 6’6”, 228 lb former five star recruit Jacob Eason.
Eason hails from Lake Stevens, WA — just 30 miles north of Seattle. Coming out of high school, he committed to the University of Georgia and spent two years there. After being riddled with injuries and losing the starting QB job, he ultimately decided to transfer home and play for Chris Petersen and UW. While he possesses all the physical assets a coach looks for in a college QB, ultimately Petersen has given zero information to the media on who is winning the QB competition.
The next option for quarterback would be sophomore Jake Haener. Haener has the most experience of the QB’s on the roster after appearing in four games last season. At 6’0, 196 lbs, he has been compared to Browning as an exact duplicate. Eason may have the physical edge in this battle, but Haener has been around the offense much longer and has the game experience that coaches looks for.
Another position a replacement is needed for is running back. The departure of Myles Gaskin, who became the all-time rushing leader not only for Washington but for the whole Pac 12 conference, leaves a big opportunity in the backfield for someone to breakout. Salvon Ahmed is a prime candidate to do so, as he has already shown flashes of star potential. He tallied up 608 rushing yards and seven touchdowns last season. Ahmed served as the perfect change of pace back to Gaskin and will now look to step up in an expanded role.
A top 25 recruiting class for the third year in a row will also be full of young players who may have to fill spots rather sooner than expected — especially on defense. Multiple players from last year’s defensive unit will be drafted in this year’s NFL draft, including possible first round picks in defensive backs Byron Murphy and Taylor Rapp.
The Huskies open up their season on August 31 versus the Eastern Washington Eagles. After that, they will play three of their next four games at Husky Stadium. Coach Petersen and the rest of the Husky staff have cemented the UW football program as a consistent national title contender and will look to continue their success in the 2019 season.