Two years ago, no one would have guessed that the Huskies would be the No. 2 team in the nation. They were in their second year under head coach Jimmy Lake, lost to Montana in their season opener, and went 4-8 in an abysmal year that ultimately got Lake fired. Let's not forget the infamous pushing-a-student incident...
Fresno State head coach Kalen DeBoer was hired as the next HC of the Huskies on November 29, 2021, in a move that would completely change the future of the Washington football program. In just one season, he transformed a 4-8 team into an 11-2 team that beat Texas in the Alamo Bowl.
Now the Huskies are one win away from playing in the National Championship.
Washington far surpassed the expectations that were set for them ahead of the 2022 season. Many labeled the year as a year of rebuilding for the Huskies, but DeBoer saw it as an opportunity to "reload".
And he did just that.
People tend to forget that the majority of these players on the Huskies roster were recruited by Jimmy Lake and Chris Petersen.
But lets not forget what else DeBoer brought to this program.
In his biggest move, DeBoer recruited his former QB Michael Penix Jr. to follow him to Washington in a move that wasn't highly regarded at first. The two had previously worked together at Indiana in 2019 when DeBoer was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Penix's potential was derailed by three season-ending injuries in a row while at Indiana, including two torn ACLs.
Penix's arrival at Washington was deterred by questions regarding his durability. However, those concerns were quickly squashed and his decision to transfer to Washington turned out to be the best decision for Penix as DeBoer helped develop Penix into a top quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up within two years.
The national powerhouse that became Washington's offense deserves credit all around. DeBoer and Penix are the easiest names to mention but let's not forget offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb constructing an offense for these young stars to succeed in. Not to diminish Penix's skills in any way, but I couldn't imagine him putting up the numbers he did without his receivers Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, and Ja'Lynn Polk or his award-winning offensive line.
While much attention rightfully lands on the Huskies' formidable offense, it's essential to laud the remarkable contributions of key defensive players like Bralen Trice, Edefuan Ulofoshio, Jabbar Muhammad, Dom Hampton, and Zion Tupuola-Fetui as well as others. As the offense soared in scoring, these defensive stars exemplified resilience, repeatedly bouncing back from adversity.
Their unwavering determination not only fortified the team but also proved instrumental in clinching victories. Their prowess, coupled with their collective defensive tenacity, became the backbone that consistently propelled the team forward.
It will be sad to see several pivotal players from the Huskies team depart for the NFL Draft soon. However, we can take solace in having one, perhaps two more games left to relish their presence as a remarkable unit before they move on.
Whatever happens in the Sugar Bowl, this team is amazing in what they have accomplished in two years.