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What can be expected from new-look UW Huskies this fall?

Jun 25, 2024, 8:09 AM

UW Huskies Carson Bruener Oregon Ducks 2023...

UW Huskies linebacker Carson Bruener tackles Oregon running back Bucky Irving in 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

After one of the greatest and most magical seasons in program history, things will look entirely different for the UW Huskies this fall.

Caple: 23 thoughts on UW Huskies football’s 23 June enrollees

Former UW head coach Kalen DeBoer is now the head coach at Alabama. Former UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb is now across town as the OC for the Seattle Seahawks. And the most jarring fact: Of the 22 Huskies who started either on offense or defense in the College Football Playoff national championship game this past January, just two still remain on UW’s roster.

The Huskies had 10 players selected in April’s NFL Draft, which tied a modern-era program record. Seven of those picks came in the top 100, including a trio of first-rounders with Heisman Trophy runner-up Michael Penix Jr. going No. 8 overall, star wide receiver Rome Odunze at No. 9 and standout offensive lineman Troy Fautanu at No. 20. In addition, three more Huskies signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents this spring.

And of course, there was also the mass exodus of transfers following DeBoer’s stunning departure for Alabama, which came just days after UW fell to Michigan in the national title game. Six starters ended up transferring to other programs after DeBoer left.

So, where does that leave the Huskies this fall as they transition to the Big Ten under new coach Jedd Fisch? Pro Football Focus college football analyst Max Chadwick shared his insight last week on Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy.

“They lost a boatload of talent, including their head coach and star offensive coordinator as well, so it’s gonna be a different era now for Washington football,” Chadwick said. “And honestly, … there’s a really good argument that they’re not even a top-25 team in the country heading into next year. I think they’re probably gonna be like a 7-5-ish team – 7-5, 8-4 seems to be the range I think that they could fall into.”

The 47-year-old Fisch comes to Washington after engineering a massive turnaround at Arizona, where he needed just three seasons to transform the last-place Wildcats into one of the Pac-12’s best teams last fall. Much of that success stemmed from Fisch’s ability to haul in Arizona’s all-time best recruiting class in 2022.

Fisch has been busy putting those recruiting skills to use this spring. As he looks to rebuild UW’s roster for this season and beyond, Fisch has been very active both in the transfer portal and on the high school recruiting trail.

But as Chadwick said, it’s unrealistic to expect the Huskies to match their success of the past two seasons, when they went a combined 25-3. That’s especially the case considering UW’s new-look Big Ten slate this fall, which includes matchups against Michigan, Penn State and archrival Oregon. All three of those teams are in the top 12 of ESPN’s post-spring top-25 rankings.

“I do like Jedd Fisch,” Chadwick said. “I do like Jonah Coleman, the (former Arizona) running back they got in the transfer portal. But they lost so many of their star players that really were the reason why they made it all the way to the national title game. So I think it’ll be an adjustment period for Jedd Fisch before he really kicks off his new era in the Big Ten.”

Listen to the full conversation with PFF’s Max Chadwick at this link or in the audio player near the middle of this story. Tune in to Bump and Stacy weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More on the UW Huskies

• Caple: Pac-12 Preseason Power Rankings — with a twist
• Caple: Thoughts on Ana Mari Cauce, Big Ten and UW’s athletic budget
• UW Huskies transfer Logan Sagapolu ‘grateful’ for new start, position
• Caple: The toughest game for each Pac-12 team as they enter new leagues
• Revisiting UW Huskies’ 2020 recruiting class, of which only five remain

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