Huard: How No. 5 UW Huskies are having best season since ’91

Nov 14, 2023, 10:00 AM

UW Huskies Kalen DeBoer Michael Penix Jr....

UW Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer talks with QB Michael Penix Jr. during a 2023 game vs. Utah. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

It was expected that the UW Huskies would be good this college football season. They entered the year ranked No. 10 in the nation by The Associated Press, and Pac-12 title hopes were realistic.

Now 10 games into the season, it’s clear that Washington’s title hopes aren’t limited to their conference.

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The No. 5 Huskies are a perfect 10-0 so far, putting themselves in a great spot to make the four-team College Football Playoff so long as they continue to take care of their own business – easier said than done with No. 10 Oregon State, the annual Apple Cup against WSU, and a likely Pac-12 Championship matchup with No. 6 Oregon coming over the next three weeks.

For now, though, UW has earned all praise that head coach Kalen DeBoer, quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and the rest of the squad are receiving.

So why have the Huskies proven to be not just good, but “10-0” good? Former Washington quarterback Brock Huard, who was on the call for FOX during Saturday’s Huskies win over No. 16 Utah, shared his insight on Monday’s edition of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

He starts with DeBoer, who is now 21-2 since taking over the UW Huskies program prior to the 2022 season, including 17 straight wins and a perfect 13-0 home record dating back to last year.

“The reality is starting to hit that Kalen DeBoer is a (heck) of a coach. I mean, it’s now no fluke,” Huard said. “It’s now 17 in a row. It’s now 21-2. It’s now fifth team in the country. It’s now 13-0 at home. It’s now not a little mini-script. Now you’re a couple years into this going, ‘Look at what he has done and the confidence he has.’ When we meet with him, he’s got a different kind of energy.”

Huard recalled what he found telling from a conversation he and guest host Aaron Goldsmith had with DeBoer last week on Brock and Salk.

“He jumped on the show Thursday, and it’s not as if he’s, like, the most overwhelming, gregarious (person), but he is so confident and so steady, and his team and his quarterback and the whole crew, they follow his lead. So I would say he probably left the biggest imprint and impression on all of us.”

DeBoer’s steadiness may have a positive impact on his team, but there’s another factor that Huard pointed to that makes the Huskies so fit for the moment. That would be the fact that several of Washington’s players have been in college football for five or even six years due to how the pandemic impacted the NCAA’s rules on eligibility. The last time the Huskies had as successful of a season as this one was 1991, when they split the national championship with Miami. Huard said the legendary coach of that UW team, Don James, would have liked this Huskies roster.

“It is the oldest team that I have ever seen at the University of Washington,” Huard said. “Don James, when he built the power and the dynasty that he did, thought very, very strongly that freshmen redshirt, and I want to play guys with hair on their chest. … I want to play guys with beards and hair on their chest. I don’t want to play with 17 and 18 year olds.”

How is that playing out for the Huskies?

“Teams strive to have a player-driven locker room. … The best teams I was ever a part of, we were really led by the players,” Huard said. “The coach was the captain, but he didn’t have to sit up there and bark every order – the locker room did it. And in being around the team – and why it’s so valuable in the time that I get when I do these (FOX) broadcasts to not only study the tape a little more but to get in the locker room, to get around the coaches, to see them on gameday, to just gets so much closer to the operation – there is no question that is a player-led team.”

Listen to the full discussion in the podcast from Monday’s edition of Brock and Salk at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on the UW Huskies

AP Top 25: UW Huskies’ next big game just got bigger
Caple’s Takeaways: UW Huskies 10-0 after 35-28 win over Utah
Recap: No. 5 UW Huskies 10-0 for 2nd time after beating No. 13 Utah 35-28
UW Huskies QB Penix has combo Chris Petersen has never seen
Chris Petersen: Why is UW Huskies ranking out of CFP is no concern?

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