The Washington Huskies football program has sputtered this year, and while there are invariably multiple factors that have contributed to their downfall, there is one constant as to why the Dawgs have faltered out of Pac-12 contention: Jacob Eason.
This article is going to examine why the star signal caller is hurting UW football and provide insight on whether he is the right man going forward.
Three months ago, the Huskies were a hot pick to win the Pac-12. How did this suddenly turn into a 6-4 campaign with a losing in-conference record?
For starters, UW lost the Pac-12 opener and midnight showcase to Cal. Through the lighting storm delay, alcohol wearing off, and sleep-deprived eyes, the Dawgs’ faithful watched their squad lose 19-20 behind Eason’s 162-yard, zero-touchdown, one-interception performance.
And while this game was weird, it was also quite frankly a once-in-a lifetime event. It was expected that the five-star recruit would find a way to get the job done; instead, he ultimately ended up underwhelming in his first Pac-12 outing.
Due to the circumstances surrounding the contest, he gets a pass in this matchup. He was also facing Ex-UW Defensive Coordinator and Cal Head Coach Justin Wilcox, who may have had insight into his former boss’s gameplan in Husky Head Coach Chris Petersen.
But what about the Stanford matchup? Few people around the country pegged the Dawgs to lose on the farm, but that’s exactly what happened.
In a game with no lighting storm delay, the transfer quarterback threw for 206 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. But the most concerning stat is that he completed less than 50 percent of his passes on 16 of 36.
This loss to the Cardinal is one of the Huskies’ worst performances in the past few years—and a reality check for the whole program. These are the type of games that former UW signal-caller Jake Browning won on a consistent basis, this matchup should’ve been an afterthought.
As the season progressed, Washington’s next big contest was against rival Oregon. Eason played his best game of the year against the Ducks but ultimately fell short, 31-35, realistically ending the Huskies’ shot at a Pac-12 title.
The junior can’t be blamed for this loss, but he was brought into Seattle because it was believed he was the man to take UW to the next level, maybe even a second berth into the College Football Playoff.
And while all of the previous losses are upsetting, his last two outings have been brutal.
The Dawgs’ matchup against Utah could have served as a turn-post to UW’s season; if they beat the Utes, they would have shown themselves that their still an elite team.
And for two-and-a-half-quarters it appeared that the Huskies were going to win. They were controlling the line of scrimmage, making big plays, and frustrating Utah. But then in the blink of an eye, he threw a devastating pick-six that changed the tide of the game.
Toward the end of the third quarter, UW led the contest, 21-13, when Utes cornerback Jaylon Johnson Jumped an out-route and took it to the house, tightening the score to 21-19. Utah gained momentum and ultimately ended up winning the matchup 28-33.
This loss capsulated Washington’s season in a nutshell, an extremely talented team that finds a way to lose.
But the saga continues…
Last week against Oregon State he threw another pick-six breathing life into the downtrodden Beavers. Luckily for the junior, the rest of UW’s roster would not be denied and made enough plays to win the game.
The star signal-caller threw for 175 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions, all while completing only 50 percent of his passes. And while these stats are bad, the timing of the interception was worse. If Washington’s defense didn’t dominate OSU from start to finish, the Huskies sure as heck could’ve lost this matchup.
With all the complaints surrounding Browning the last couple of years, he’s a much better quarterback than Eason. The junior has all the potential in the world, but he’s not getting the job done. It’s cool that he can throw a 90-yard bomb downfield, but can he throw a simple screen?
He seems to be lacking all the intangibles that the good signal callers possess: field vision, accuracy, and leadership. After he lost a fumble against the Utes, none of his teammates came over to pat him on the back: this could be a troubling sign.
His potential is undeniable; he still could be one of the best quarterbacks in the nation next year.
But something needs to be evaluated—a perennial title contender has become an afterthought.
This is a dilemma that Petersen will have to untangle in the offseason.