Why UW Huskies are in ‘much better shape’ after disappointing 2021 season

Aug 20, 2022, 9:08 AM | Updated: 9:10 am

UW Huskies Kalen DeBoer...

New UW Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer speaks during a press conference Tuesday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

To say the UW Huskies’ 2021 season was a disappointment would be quite the understatement.

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The Huskies entered the year ranked in the preseason top-25 but fell to FCS Montana at home in their season opener before getting trounced at Michigan 31-10.

Ultimately UW finished 4-8, losing the Apple Cup for the first time in since 2012 and firing head coach Jimmy Lake midway through the season after both a porous start to the year as well as a physical altercation with a player on the sideline versus Oregon. It was also the first time since 2010 – not including the shortened COVID season in 2020 – that the Huskies were not bowl eligible.

Now, the UW Huskies have a new coaching staff led by head coach Kalen DeBoer as he begins his first season as a power-five head coach.

So what should we look for from UW this upcoming season? College football analyst Phil Steele joined Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Bump and Stacy on Thursday and shared what he thinks of the Huskies after a poor 2021.

Last year, Steele thought UW could be a sleeper team to make the College Football Playoff. That obviously didn’t happen.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to pick Washington as my surprise team this year,” he said. “But I do think they are a much-improved team.”

Steele thinks the Huskies are in “much better shape” than they were a year ago, and he’s looking forward to seeing what DeBoer can do at Montlake.

“First of all, the new head coach, Kalen DeBoer, is a guy that had great success at Fresno State, great success as an offensive coordinator at Indiana,” he said. “And remember, his quarterback there was Michael Penix. Penix had his best year under DeBoer and now those two are teamed together (again).”

Penix completed nearly 69% of his passes for 10 touchdowns in six games with DeBoer calling plays for him at Indiana in 2019. Now, Penix will compete against highly-touted recruit Sam Huard, now a redshirt-freshman, and Dylan Morris, UW’s starter the last two seasons.

Steele thinks the UW Huskies have “a lot of big boys up front” on the offensive line, and “they should be able to play to their potential this year.”

On defense, Steele thinks having talented pass rusher Zion Tupuola-Fetui back for a full season “is a plus.” The man commonly known as “ZTF” was a star in the shortened 2020 season, recording seven sacks in jus three games, but he played just two games in 2021 due to an Achilles injury.

UW’s schedule is also pretty favorable.

“When you look at the schedule, they don’t play USC and they don’t play Utah, which I think is big,” Steele said. “I could see Washington getting to seven, eight, maybe even nine wins this year.”

Listen to the full conversation at this link or in the player below.

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