The 2023 Washington Huskies are a team that boasts an abundance of star power on offense, defense, and even special teams. With a Heisman trophy runner-up in quarterback Michael Penix Jr. leading the way, the Huskies' offense is a force to be reckoned with. Penix Jr. averages an impressive 324.5 passing yards per game and nearly three touchdowns per game. He is supported by a talented receiving corps, including two 1,000-yard receivers in Rome Odunze and Ja'Lynn Polk.
Jalen McMillan, who would have likely reached the 1,000-yard mark if not for injury, adds another dimension to the passing attack. Additionally, running back Dillon Johnson has been a standout performer, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark and scoring 14 touchdowns. The offensive line, recognized as the best in college football with the Joe Moore award, provides the necessary protection and cohesion to make this offense truly formidable.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Huskies have standout performers as well. Bralen Trice, an All-Pac-12 performer, leads the conference in quarterback pressures, while Zion Tupuola-Fetui anchors the defensive line. Linebacker Edufuan Ulofoshio is a semifinalist for the prestigious Dick Butkus award, showcasing his exceptional skills and impact on the field. The secondary is bolstered by the addition of transfer player Jabbar Muhammad, who has made an immediate impact with three interceptions and 10 pass breakups, leading the team in both categories.
While the Huskies heavily rely on their star players, it is often the unsung heroes who step up in crucial moments and make a significant impact. These players, who usually fly under the radar, can be the difference-makers in important games, such as the Sugar Bowl against Texas and potentially the National Championship.
3 under the radar players who can help Huskies reach National Championship
LB Carson Bruener
One such player is linebacker Carson Bruener. Thrust into the starting role against Oregon State, Bruener did not disappoint, accumulating an impressive 14 total tackles, two pass breakups, and a forced fumble. He followed up this outstanding performance with another 14-tackle game against Washington State. Bruener's energy and playmaking ability make him a crucial factor for the Huskies defense going forward. Despite being in a reserve role, he has already amassed 75 tackles on the season, ranking third on the team.
DB Mishael Powell
Defensive back Mishael Powell is another player who often goes unnoticed but has made significant contributions to the team. Tied with Muhammad as the team leader in interceptions with three, Powell has showcased his playmaking ability throughout the season. Notably, his interception against Bo Nix in the Pac-12 championship proved pivotal in securing victory for the Huskies. Powell's ability to create turnovers will be on full display, and if he can add to his interception total, Texas will face a long and challenging game.
WR Germie Bernard
Wide receiver Germie Bernard, a transfer from Michigan State, is a versatile player who would likely be a number one or two receiving option on many college football teams. Unfortunately for Bernard, he finds himself behind three other exceptional receivers on the depth chart. However, this presents a perfect opportunity for him to step up and make plays when least expected. With the Texas Longhorns' secondary focused on stopping the "Big 3" receivers, Bernard can exploit the gaps and make significant contributions to the offense.
While the Huskies will heavily rely on their award winners, award finalists, and All-Pac-12 performers in the Sugar Bowl and potentially the National Championship, the contributions of these under-the-radar players cannot be underestimated. Their ability to step up in crucial moments and make game-changing plays can push the Huskies to the top and help them dominate in all aspects of the game. With a combination of star power and unsung heroes, the Huskies have a fighting chance to secure victory and potentially claim the National Championship.