UW Huskies HC Kalen DeBoer talks new contract, Apple Cup, much more
Kalen DeBoer’s first season as head coach of the UW Huskies has gone great as he’s guided Washington to nine wins heading into the team’s final game of the regular season just a year after the program went 4-8. And with this great season came a new contract and raise, which was announced Tuesday evening.
DeBoer hit the Seattle Sports 710 AM airwaves Wednesday morning, joining Brock and Salk to discuss the new deal, this Saturday’s Apple Cup rivalry game and more.
First off, his thoughts on signing a contract extension that runs through the 2028 season.
“This is a great place,” DeBoer said. “I knew it before we got here and just have seen it throughout the entire calendar year, the entire season. So much support. And I’m certainly appreciative of the opportunity to have the contract extended and continue to move forward with our program.”
How did a contract come together during a season in which DeBoer is obviously extremely busy coaching his players, preparing for games, recruiting and doing regular press conferences?
“I think we have a relationship here at UW where it’s open and full of trust, and you just start having conversations and you just continue to work through it when you have the time. It felt right, I think, on both ends,” the UW Huskies head coach said. “And I guess I’ve just always operated that way. I feel like I’m pretty approachable. I appreciate just what the university wants to do, led by President (Ana Mari) Cauce and (athletic director) Jen Cohen … My family loves it here at UW. It’s been a great year to live here in the Seattle area.”
This week will be DeBoer’s first taste of the Apple Cup rivalry game, and he can make it a perfect 2-for-2 against the UW Huskies’ biggest rivals with a win over the WSU Cougars as his squad knocked off Oregon in Eugene two weeks ago.
“I think that’s the unique thing about here at UW is just a lot of times you have one rivalry that just is above and beyond any other game,” he said. “And yes, I think some fans will pick one and some fans will pick the other, but this one is huge against Washington State. It meant a lot to beat Oregon, and it means an awful lot to beat Washington State.”
During the buildup to UW’s clash with Oregon as well as after the game, DeBoer regularly mentioned that he was regularly asked by fans of the program about beating Oregon and getting that done. He said the same has been true about the Cougars, who won last year’s Apple Cup 40-13 in Seattle.
“It’s an in state-rival and there’s a lot of, I’ve said bragging rights, but there’s a lot of pride that goes along with winning those rivalries,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got a big task ahead of us. They’re having a great season, we’re on the road, it’s gonna be a big game.”
DeBoer also provided a quick preview of facing the Cougars this weekend in Pullman at Martin Stadium. DeBoer called WSU “consistent,” especially of late as the Cougs enter the Apple Cup on a three-game winning streak.
“Kind of their recipe has been starting fast,” DeBoer said. “Their defense is extremely strong. They’ve had a great year consistently from start to finish there, and you can hang your hat on that you’re going to be pretty much in every game.”
During WSU’s recent winning streak, the Cougars have started fast offensively, DeBoer said, which has allowed the defense to “keep that separation there intact.”
“They’ve got a great football team all around. It’s not just about their defense,” he said. “The quarterback can sling it and they’ve got playmakers on the outside, too. It’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be be a lot of fun. There’ll be a lot of momentum swings, but I think that’s really where it starts with them.”
DeBoer mentioned WSU’s quarterback, Cameron Ward, but he’s coaching a great QB as well with the UW Huskies.
That would be Michael Penix Jr., the nation’s leading passer who is also among the NCAA leaders in passing touchdowns.
Penix has been stellar for the UW Huskies this season, and DeBoer had no shortage of praise for his star signal caller.
“I think just the talent level, the arm strength. He can see things develop naturally,” he said.
Penix transferred to Washington this past offseason after spending five years at Indiana, where he played for DeBoer in 2019 when the now-UW head coach was the Hoosiers’ offensive coordinator.
Penix was “so young” when DeBoer last coached him at Indiana, he said.
“But I saw enough to know that he can make all those throws,” DeBoer said.
That was certainly the case against Oregon when DeBoer made a throw many have called the best pass of the season of any quarterback in the nation. From the right hash mark, Penix completed a long pass to Taj Davis down the left sideline for what wound up being a 62-yard touchdown that tied the game in the fourth quarter.
DeBoer said that throw didn’t surprise him because he’s seen Penix make plays like that during games and in practice this year.
On top of the elite physical talent, Penix has a great head on his shoulders and a great mindset, DeBoer said, in part because he’s lost so much time during his college career to injury.
“I just think you add the maturity that he has with what he’s gone through the last couple of years and just being able to stay composed,” he said. “… He’s got great perspective and plays in the moment and not not really looking ahead to anything whether it’s the next week’s game or his future. He’s just enjoying the present because it’s a special time.”
Listen to the full interview at this link or in the player below.