BROCK AND SALK

What about UW’s Michael Penix Jr. isn’t talked about enough?

Jan 3, 2024, 1:35 PM | Updated: 1:49 pm

Michael Penix Jr. NFL Draft...

Michael Penix Jr. of the UW Huskies throws a pass against Texas in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2024. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

(Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Even though the play of UW Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been head-turning all season long, his performance in Monday’s Sugar Bowl victory still somehow turned heads all throughout the country.

Rost: No. 2 UW Huskies still getting ‘very little’ respect after CFP semis win

The biggest reason? His otherworldly left arm, which was responsible for 430 yards and two touchdowns on 39-for-48 passing in a 37-31 win over Texas, sending Washington to the College Football Playoff National Championship against No. 1 Michigan on Monday, Jan. 8.

“The arm is there, the delivery is unique,” said Brock Huard, another memorable left-handed QB from UW Huskies history. “… I mean, he just throws nothing but frozen ropes.”

But while Penix’s arm gets all the attention, and maybe throws him into first-round NFL Draft consideration, there’s something about Penix that is going under the radar according to Huard.

“What are we not talking about enough?” asked Mike Salk, Huard’s co-host on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

“His pocket awareness is off the charts,” responded Huard, a longtime college football analyst who currently serves on FOX broadcasts.

While Texas has its own star quarterback in Quinn Ewers, Huard said there was a clear difference between the two Monday night when it came to how they operated in and out of the pocket.

“What (Penix) doesn’t get credit for is his pocket manipulation, and that’s stuff you can’t teach, man,” Huard said. “Aspiring young quarterbacks do the same drills – ‘Hey man, step up, step back, step to the right, step left, step back, step up.’ … You could teach all of that stuff versus air, but to do it when it matters? … Quinn stepped up and scrambled two or three times, and he’s pretty athletic, an athletic enough guy. But just compare the pocket awareness and the movement of those two.”

Something that helps Penix in this department is the fact that due to injury and the pandemic, the 23-year-old QB is finishing off his sixth college season.

“You can drill that all you want, but when it matters, you see six years of experience,” Huard said.

Huard added that coaches of all levels might get some use out of Penix’s highlights to help out younger QBs, but there’s still something about the UW Huskies’ signal-caller that is hard to quantify.

“Take away, honestly, the ASU game where they got in the gaps, they harassed him, balls get tipped – take that game out of it, man, these other 13 is teaching tape,” he said. “And you can take that tape, and you can watch it and say, ‘Do this, kid.’ But there’s just a certain feel that some guys have, and he has it.”

The undefeated, No. 2-ranked UW Huskies meet the undefeated, No. 1-ranked Michigan Wolverines to determine the college football national championship at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8. You can hear the ESPN Radio broadcast live on Seattle Sports 710 AM, or streaming on the Seattle Sports app and SeattleSports.com.

Listen to the full Blue 88 segment from Monday’s Brock and Salk in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on Michael Penix Jr. and the UW Huskies

Hot Take: Why UW QB Michael Penix was so amazing in Sugar Bowl
Video: Former UW coach Rick Neuheisel on Huskies’ chances to win title
What Stands Out: Brock Huard on UW punching ticket to title game
UW gives Pac-12 one last chance at championship before leaving
Title game matches UW Huskies’ prolific Penix vs Michigan’s elite D

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