Fresno St announcer: UW Huskies land ‘real deal’ in Kalen DeBoer
After the Jimmy Lake era came to an unceremonious end for the UW Huskies football program, the university set out to find the next head coach at Montlake.
The UW Huskies wound up hiring Kalen DeBoer, who was the head coach at Fresno State the last two seasons, leading the Bulldogs to a 12-6 record. DeBoer was officially introduced as the next UW Huskies head football coach on Tuesday.
Before taking head coaching gig at Fresno State, DeBoer had been an offensive coordinator at Southern Illinois (2010-13), Eastern Michigan (2014-16), Fresno State (2017-18) and Indiana (2019). This was after he led his alma mater, NAIA Sioux Falls, to a 67-3 record and three national championships during five years as the program’s head coach.
Someone who’s gotten to know DeBoer very well over the last few years is Paul Loeffler, the play-by-play announcer for Fresno State football. Loeffler joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy on Tuesday to share his insight into the UW Huskies’ newest head football coach.
“Well I’ll tell you, Dawg fans are gonna love him. He’s the real deal,” Loeffler said.
Loeffler thinks very highly of DeBoer as both a coach and a person.
“He’s a genuine person to start with,” he said. “Obviously, his record as a coach speaks for itself, whether it’s lead guy or a coordinator, and I know he’s ready to hit the ground running and hit this recruiting season hard. And I think every step of the way he passes every test.”
Loeffler called DeBoer detail-oriented and said that his consistency is what stands out the most.
“He’s steady. Last year, during COVID, Fresno State probably got dealt the toughest hand in the country,” he said. “They had less practice time than anybody in the country. They didn’t think they were gonna get to play in the fall. Finally, they find out they do, and he was all-in and never rattled by any of the curveballs that stand in his way. And I really think how they handled last year helped them have success this year.”
Something that UW Huskies fans likely know about DeBoer is that he got great quarterback play the last two years from Jake Haener, who transferred to Fresno State after spending two seasons with the Huskies (and was reported to enter the transfer portal Tuesday night, possibly to follow DeBoer back to UW).
In six games last year, Haener completed 64.7% of his passes for 2,021 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. In 12 games this season, Haener has completed over 67% of his passes for 3,810 yards, 32 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
“I think Kalen’s steady approach and how grounded he is and patient he is really helped Jake through some of the ups and downs of this year,” Loeffler said.
Speaking of quarterbacks, it’s possible the UW Huskies have their quarterback for the foreseeable future in Sam Huard, who redshirted this season and has four years of eligibility remaining. Huard is the son of former star UW quarterback Damon Huard and the nephew of former star UW quarterback Brock Huard, who is a contributor to 710 ESPN Seattle.
The younger Huard set Washington state high school passing records and was a five-star recruit. While Huard very well may start for the Huskies next year and in years to come, Loeffler said he expects there to be an open competition for that job because of how DeBoer operates his program.
(Though it should be noted that if Haener transfers back to UW, which multiple reports have said is happening, he likely will start. This interview was done before Haener entered the transfer portal.)
“I think one of the strengths of Kalen and his staff – and I say the staff because I think he has done as good a job as any coach I’ve seen of receiving input from the staff – is really having a collective approach to things where everybody on the staff kind of has the same priorities, the same mentality,” Loeffler said. “… I think balance is a big thing for him from an offensive philosophy. And also, he wants guys to see consistency from the coaching staff where no one’s playing favorites. Everything needs to be earned. You don’t treat Jake Haener different from anybody else on the team. And I think he’ll take that approach (at quarterback).”
DeBoer is an offensive-minded head coach, but he had a trusted confidant and play-caller in Ryan Grubb at Fresno State.
That duo has coached together every year since aside from 2019, DeBoer’s lone year at Indiana.
Grubb is the current offensive coordinator, associate head coach and quarterbacks coach at Fresno State, but Loeffler expects him to move up north with DeBoer.
He’s worked with Ryan Grubb forever and I would expect Ryan follows him up there to Washington to be on his staff,” he said.
The big question: Recruiting
DeBoer has won and succeeded everywhere he’s been as a coach, but he only has one year of coaching experience at a power-five school (Indiana in 2019).
Because of that, a big question is how he will do from a recruiting perspective at Washington, which historically has done well in recruiting but hasn’t been as good the last few seasons. That’s especially a question now that USC hired former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley.
Loeffler said there shouldn’t be any concerns with DeBoer as a recruiter, saying he saw DeBoer succeed with bringing talented high schoolers, junior college players as well as transfers from other universities to Fresno State.
“I think why he’s good in recruiting is because what you see is what you get,” Loeffler said. “Whether he’s talking to you and he met you for the first time or he’s talking to me who he’s known for five years, it’s gonna be the same kind of conversation.”
Loeffler called DeBoer open-minded and said he wants to learn about who he’s talking to rather than solely talking about who he himself is.
“He’s got great people skills, he’s a genuine person, and you guys have been around people who talk a big game, but don’t back it up,” Loeffler said. “He’s a guy who no matter what the situation is, no matter what the stakes are, no matter what the emotions are, he’s the same person. So I think that really resonates in recruiting.”
Loeffler also thinks DeBoer’s offense will work well in the Pac-12, which should help with recruiting as well.
“He’s all about balance,” Loeffler said. “And that’s not a numbers game. It’s not you’ve got to pass it 20 times and run it 20 times. It’s you have to have the ability to do either one.”
Listen to the full interview at this link or in the player below.