UW Huskies QB Penix has combo Chris Petersen has never seen
Nov 9, 2023, 11:28 AM | Updated: 11:28 am
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
The No. 5-ranked UW Huskies took some lumps in their first two seasons after Chris Petersen retired as head coach in 2019, but things are humming on Montlake now.
After finishing 11-2 in head coach Kalen DeBoer’s debut season in 2022, the Huskies are a perfect 9-0 this year with three regular season games left against Utah, Oregon State and Washington State. Two more wins would clinch Washington’s place in the Pac-12 title game.
Petersen is still part of the program, serving in an advisory role in the athletic department, and he’s also an analyst for FOX Sports’ college football coverage. Needless to say, Petersen is keeping a very close eye on the Huskies.
Petersen joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Wednesday to talk all things UW Huskies.
Here’s what he had to say about arguably the two biggest UW topics these days: DeBoer and his star quarterback, Heisman Trophy candidate Michael Penix Jr.
Michael Penix Jr. unlike any QB that Petersen has seen
Not only is Washington in the national title conversation, but it has one of the nation’s best players under center in Penix, who leads the country in passing yards and is a top contender for the Heisman.
Petersen had no shortage of praise for Penix.
“The combination of the scheme that Kalen and (UW Huskies offensive coordinator) Ryan Grubb are presenting, they just stretch you all over, and the fact that Michael Penix, the arm strength and accuracy that he has, it’s just beautiful,” Petersen said.
Petersen contrasted Penix’s style with that of someone on the other end of the conversation: Brock Huard, himself a former lefty quarterback for the Huskies.
“I think the one thing is he’s not the classic passer where he stands tall and he’s got that high lefty release like you had, Brock – that pretty thing where you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, let this guy walk off the bus first, and everybody’s gonna just run the other way,'” Petersen said. “So it doesn’t look like how you threw it.”
Petersen began coaching college football in 1987 and has seen plenty of quarterbacks. None like Penix, though.
“I haven’t seen anybody with the combination in the college game that can stretch the field like this and throw it so accurately downfield with the proper timing,” he said. “It’s so phenomenal to watch. I love it.”
MICHAEL PENIX JR. MAGIC 🪄
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 5, 2023
Why DeBoer is so successful
Petersen’s immediate successor, Jimmy Lake, didn’t work out at UW as the Huskies’ former defensive coordinator lasted just 13 games before he was fired midway through his second season.
In Petersen’s role with UW’s athletic department, he helped with the hiring of DeBoer, who is now 20-2 as the Huskies’ head coach.
Petersen said he had “a little bit of an advantage” with interviewing DeBoer because of a few connections.
“There were so many … of our ex-players that I had at Boise State that were coaching with him,” he said.
Additionally, DeBoer served as Fresno State offensive coordinator under coach Jeff Tedford. Not only are Petersen and Tedford close, but Tedford spent time as a consultant for Petersen’s 2016 UW Huskies team that made the College Football Playoff.
“All these people I really trusted, (I) was able to get a real clear picture of the type of person, type of coach, etc.,” Petersen said of DeBoer, “and so then you have a conversation with him and you can connect dots faster.”
DeBoer is in his ninth overall year as a head coach with a 99-11 record. A big part of that is his success at NAIA Sioux Falls, his alma mater, where he went 67-3 with three national championships.
That has translated over to Washington, which Petersen said isn’t a surprise to him.
“The thing that’s just so cool about Kalen is he’s obviously really good at his job and the track record speaks for itself. You can go back to his time in South Dakota, and I always think this: It doesn’t matter the level that you coach at,” he said. “You should be judged in the league that you’re playing because we’re all basically playing by the same confines in the league. So if you just follow the guy’s track record everywhere he’s been as a head coach, it’s phenomenal. But then even as an offensive coordinator, putting up really good numbers.”
What is it that makes DeBoer such a good leader on top of his expertise at leading an offense?
“You talk to the people you know, and you’re like, boy, this guy is really good. I mean, people just like him,” Petersen said. “And I think that matters. I think to be really good at your job and then to be the leader, I think it’s important that there’s a connection with people, and people like him. And that’s just proved to be true. I think he’s really good at what he does. I think his demeanor is really interesting, because he’s just kind of got that calm (presence), can handle the storms that are coming his way every day, and then he’s good with people.”
Listen to Brock and Salk’s full discussion with Chris Petersen at this link or in the player near the top of this story.
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