Huard: The challenge Penix, DeBoer and UW Huskies now face in ’23

Jan 19, 2023, 11:03 AM

UW Huskies Michael Penix...

UW Huskies QB Michael Penix Jr. is pressured by Oregon State's Kitan Oladapo on Nov. 4, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

There’s been a lot of optimism around the UW Huskies football program coming off an 11-2 record in their first season under head coach Kalen DeBoer, especially with quarterback Michael Penix Jr. set to return along with several other key Dawgs players.

That continued last week when Washington came in at No. 8 in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll of the season following Georgia’s national championship win over TCU, but some of that optimism may have been halted when the Pac-12 released the 2023 football schedules Wednesday for each of its teams.

On Thursday morning during Brock and Salk’s daily Blue 88 segment, former UW quarterback and current FOX college football broadcaster Brock Huard pointed in that direction when asked by Mike Salk what challenges the Huskies need to overcome next season.

“It starts with an ‘S’ and ends with a ‘E’ and it’s called a schedule, and last year could not have been more favorable a schedule (for Washington),” Huard said.

Huard has a few reasons to back up his point.

“Instead of opening up with the ‘Sisters of the Poor’ and feeling really great and throwing for 500 yards (in Week 1), you have Boise State right out the gate,” he said. “(Then) you have Tulsa, which plays some pretty decent defense. You are at Michigan State (in Week 3) coming off a sour year – you gotta go play at their building. And then how about your month of November, the games everyone does remember? At USC, Utah, at Oregon State – that is a brutal, brutal stretch.”

Huard said he believes USC and Utah, who met in the 2022 Pac-12 Championship game that he called on FOX, enter next season again as the top two teams in the conference. And Oregon State, who are coached by former UW Huskies offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith, went 11-3 in 2022 and have a big transfer addition at quarterback.

“USC and Utah are going to be fully loaded. And you go to USC, you bring Utah to your place, and then you go to a salty Oregon State with DJ Uiagalelei, the transfer from Clemson now running the show,” Huard said. “It is going to be a brutally, brutally difficult schedule for Penix and company in Year 2.”

Blue 88 airs live at 7:45 a.m. during every edition of Brock and Salk. You can hear Thursday’s full segment in the podcast below.

Huard: How UW Huskies can use Alamo Bowl as ‘springboard’ for 2023

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Huard: The challenge Penix, DeBoer and UW Huskies now face in ’23