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Washington QB Jake Browning to keep starting role after benching

Washington quarterback Jake Browning will remain the Huskies’ starter in the wake of a mid-game benching in Saturday’s 12-10 loss at Cal, coach Chris Petersen said.

After the Huskies scored a touchdown on their opening drive, they managed just 107 yards on the next five drives combined — without scoring — before Petersen went to Jake Haener, a redshirt freshman. Cal’s Evan Weaver intercepted Haener on his second pass attempt and returned it for a touchdown, which proved to be the game’s winning score.

“I guess there is no one that I care for more, have more respect for as a football player and as a person than [Browning]. And I’ve been coaching a long time,” Petersen said in a news conference Monday. “But the situation was we were not doing anything on offense. Just trying to create a spark. See if that would work a little bit.

“Jake Haener has taken a thousand reps since the fall, and it was much more about the offense than it was about Jake Browning.”

A four-year starter who finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting in 2016, Browning has not come close to matching that season’s performance — when the Huskies advanced to the College Football Playoff — in either of the past two seasons.

Under the direction of first-year offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan this year, Browning has completed 64.1 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

When Browning was pulled, he had completed 8 of 15 passes for 109 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was 3-of-6 for 39 yards after returning following two series on the sideline.

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