Huard’s takeaways on QB Penix, No. 15 UW Huskies’ win at Oregon
Saturday was a great night for the UW Huskies and their fanbase as the Dawgs went down to Eugene, Ore., and knocked off No. 6 Oregon in a 37-34 classic against their hated rival.
Washington is now 8-2 and has a shot at a Pac-12 title game berth just one year after going 4-8.
Someone who had a front row seat for the action was none other than Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Brock Huard, a former NFL and UW quarterback who called the game for FOX Sports.
Throughout Monday’s edition of Brock and Salk, Huard discussed the Huskies’ win over the Ducks, the play of quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and more.
First off, what the heck happened in the back-and-forth shootout?
“Oh, gosh, a lot. A lot happened,” Huard said. “It was a 13.5-point spread (in favor of Oregon) … and I thought that that was about right. I thought (the final score would) be like 43-30 (Ducks).”
Huard thought initially that Oregon would knock off its rival to the north, but also thought the UW Huskies would be able to score on the Ducks’ struggling defense.
“I knew that Washington could score and Oregon’s pass defense (is) one of the worst in the country – 280 yards a game given up – because they don’t have a (pass) rush,” he said. “They don’t have guys that can impact the game … (Without that) you can’t play elite defense in college football. You just can’t. It’s hard in the NFL, it’s even harder in the college game with the space and the tempo and everything else. If you don’t have dudes up front, it doesn’t matter how talented linebackers or secondary could be – they’re gonna get exposed.
“So you felt that on both sides. Oregon and Washington, if there’s one area in the transfer portal or one area that they’re going to have to build up (for next year), it’s going to be that spot because two veteran QBs (played very well).”
Both the Huskies and Ducks have veteran starting quarterbacks in Penix and Bo Nix, with each in their first year at their programs after transferring. Nix transferred to Oregon from Auburn while Penix joined the UW Huskies after playing at Indiana.
Huard thinks those two being the two most “emotionally detached” players from the rivalry helped them play so well. Nix had 339 total yards and three touchdowns while Penix passed for 408 yards and two touchdowns.
“Those two, they were not going to be in any way emotionally hijacked by that stage, the venom, the energy,” Huard said. “Bo Nix grew up in rural Alabama … Michael Penix grew up in Tampa … and then was in Bloomington, Indiana for four years before he bloomed in Seattle. Neither of those guys had a care in the world for the rivalry and the hate that exists between those two. Thus, they both flourished, they both made a ton of plays.”
In the end, it was the UW Huskies’ quarterback who walked away with the win – and turned some heads in the process.
“Michael Penix’s arm, that’s what happened,” Huard said. “His arm came on display and the NFL scouts – about 10 of them that were there – and the college football world got to see a very unique talent that’s playing better than he ever has.”
Later during Monday’s Brock and Salk, Huard shared some tidbits about a he had with Penix leading up to the game.
“We talked with Michael Penix – the first time I’ve got to chat with him – and he’s like, ‘Yeah, man, I had opportunities when it ended at Indiana.’ And after as much as he’d been beaten up and broken down there, he wanted to go somewhere to win,” Huard said.
Penix played 20 games at Indiana across four years – and played well at times – but had a number of injuries that ended his seasons. One of those years was 2019, when he completed 68.8% of his passes with 10 touchdowns in six games as the Hoosiers went 5-1. That’s notable because his offensive coordinator at the time was current UW Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer.
Not only was DeBoer a big reason for Penix choosing to come to UW, but the Huskies’ offensive personnel was critical, too.
“He came on his recruiting trip and watched tape with Kalen DeBoer and said, ‘Show me the receivers I’m throwing to, show me the O-linemen that are blocking for me, show me the personnel that we have. Because I love your system, and everything you’ve touched offensively in your entire career has turned golden everywhere,'” Huard said.
“It was DeBoer (No. 1) and it was the roster 1-A,” he added of Penix choosing to join the UW Huskies via the transfer portal this past offseason. “If it had been DeBoer at Colorado, he’s not going to Colorado. But DeBoer at Washington with these receivers and this offensive line that’s got an NFL left guard (Jaxson Kirkland) and an NFL left tackle (Troy Fautanu)? Sign me up. We can we can do this.”
Huard came away very impressed with Penix not just on the field but also off it. He compared him a bit to Geno Smith, the Seahawks’ new starting quarterback.
“He’s refreshing. He’d been through the wringer. He had just been torn apart in a college,” Huard said. “Not too dissimilar, by the way, from the guy playing at Lumen Field, who had just been through a little bit of a wringer with four different spots, been punched in the jaw at one of his spots, been hard-headed. Now, Geno hadn’t been as physically beaten up (as Penix), but certainly (as) emotionally and mentally … These two have just re-energized and reinvigorated our market in ways nobody saw coming.”