What's also become clear for the Huskies after two weeks: Browning isn't the only freshman that will impact this season.
''I think in an ideal world you redshirt them all, and the world has changed as we know,'' Washington coach Chris Petersen said on Monday. ''And we don't live in an ideal world so we're going to have to play more freshmen. But I also think the freshmen are better. They're really well coached. They don't even flinch at coming in here and all of the stuff we're throwing at them.''
Washington has already played 10 true freshmen heading into Saturday's final nonconference game against Utah State. That's the most Petersen can remember during his coaching career, but it's what he expected going into this season with a limited number of upperclassmen. Among the starters listed on Washington's depth chart, only 12 of the 22 are upperclassmen.
The decision to start Browning was notable because it lacked precedent. He was the first true freshman to start a season opener in Washington history and just the second true freshman to ever start a game at QB for the Huskies.
But the decision to play the likes of running back Myles Gaskin, wide receiver Chico McClatcher and offensive tackle Trey Adams, among other freshmen, is already paying dividends. Gaskin rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries in the Huskies' 49-0 win over Sacramento State, the third highest rushing total for a true freshman in school history.
McClatcher had just one catch against the Hornets, but it went for a 49-yard touchdown. And Browning had a prolific day through the air, throwing for 326 yards and a pair of scores.
Freshmen have to prove themselves a few ways before Petersen will let them on the field. Browning was a unique circumstance in that he enrolled in January and participated in spring practice with the Huskies before winning the starting job in fall camp.
''There are a bunch of factors that are going to determine whether we play them,'' Petersen said. ''One is going to be physically, do we think they're ready to go physically? Secondly, do we have a strong need at that position depth wise? I think the third thing is are they ready for the moment?''
Petersen added that freshmen often flash ability in one of those areas, but when schemes, plays and responsibilities are added on, it becomes clear they're not ready.
''We start boggling them down with all this material that we throw at them and they don't seem like the same guy,'' Petersen said. ''Some guys don't really even flinch at all.''
The freshman class took a blow on Saturday when defensive back Austin Joyner, one of the top recruits from the state of Washington last year, suffered a season-ending knee injury. Joyner was injured on the opening kickoff against Sacramento State, but the school believes he should be eligible for a redshirt.
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