The arrival of head coach Kalen DeBoer and his staff sparked a significant cultural change for Washington football in 2022, serving as a much-needed transition following two lackluster years under Jimmy Lake.
The new regime in Montlake saved this team from spiraling into a bottomless pit of hopelessness and the Huskies are now in a prime position to retake the Pac-12—especially with USC and UCLA leaving for the Big Ten in 2024.
In DeBoer’s first year, Washington finished 11-2, securing second place in the Pac-12, and a victory against Texas in the Alamo Bowl. The key to sustaining and building on this success will rely on DeBoer’s ability to continue influencing a culture of hard work.
Washington football is building a winning legacy under Kaleb DeBoer
It wasn’t only DeBoer’s first year with the Huskies in 2022, but also quarterback Michael Penix Jr’s. There was a lot of skepticism regarding DeBoer’s ability to coach a transfer QB who was unproven and who had battled a lot of injuries. However, DeBoer and Penix had worked together once before at the University of Indiana in 2019.
Penix went on to break the Huskies’ single-season passing record with 4,641 yards and was a Heisman Trophy candidate at the end of the season. Both are expected to take a huge leap in Year 2 with the team as Penix is once again expected to be in the running for the Heisman.
DeBoer was responsible for dramatically improving both the offense and defense and should see further improvement this upcoming season.
The offense improved in total yards (+2,824), average points (+18.69), and touchdowns (+33). Their leading rusher Wayne Taulapapa rushed for 887 net yards versus Sean McGrew’s 434 yards in 2021.
As for the defense, they improved in every category but one; interceptions. They improved by 44 tackles, 17 sacks, and 8 tackles for loss, but had three fewer interceptions than in 2021.
While the Huskies did better at penetrating the pocket and getting after the quarterback, the secondary struggled with so many injuries that hindered their impact downfield. Fortunately, they should be healthy and ready to go for 2023.
The Huskies are motivated more than ever and that is a testament to DeBoer’s leadership ability and winning mentality. The transformative impact that he has had on this team has created a strong foundation for the future of Washington football.