You buy your College Football Playoff tickets yet? Clearing out your schedule for Michael Penix Jr.’s Heisman coronation in New York?

Hey, why not get excited? Compared to last year’s fiasco vs. Montana in the season opener, this Huskies football team looks like they should be playing on Sundays.

On a more serious note — no, we can’t gauge much about how successful Washington will be after its 45-20 rout of Kent State Saturday. Leveling of a Mid-American Conference foe that came in as 23-point underdogs simply falls in the “Didn’t Blow It” category.

Asa Turner picked off Kent State’s first pass, settng up the Huskies first score of the game. 221472

But if there is anything to glean from the Huskies’ first win under coach Kalen DeBoer, it’s that they’re going to be a lot more fun than last year. Which is good.

Most of the time, at least.

Besides the eight losses, what stands out about last year’s UW squad? A quarterback who could pick apart defenses with his arms and legs? No. A daunting defense bringing incessant pressure? Uh uh.

Washington fans mainly saw stagnation on offense and conservatism on defense. Signal caller Dylan Morris was a game manager — and sacking the opposing quarterback seemed to be far less of a priority for the Huskies making sure he wouldn’t beat them with a deep ball.


The Dawgs were bad last year, yes, but they were also boring. But based on the admittedly small sample size seen in Saturday’s win, this team won’t be.

“You gotta go get it. You can’t just let the game come to you all the time,” said DeBoer, who quickly established himself as a risk-taker when he went for it on fourth and 1 from the Huskies’ 32 in the first quarter, which led to a first down and touchdown later in the drive. “The word ‘attack’ is what I use most of the time. I love that word. That’s where we want to be offensively, that’s where we want to be defensively. And just our mindset in general.” 

We’ll start with the good: UW quarterback Michael Penix Jr. proved why he earned the starting job during fall camp. He may not have been staring down a “D” from the Power Five conferences, but he was as accurate as he was agile.

The fifth-year junior — yes, that’s a thing — finished the game 26 of 39 passing for 345 yards and four touchdown passes. More significantly, he led the Huskies to scores on their first six drives.

Times Huskies football writer Mike Vorel pointed out how the Huskies hadn’t named a starting punter before the game. The joke was that the Huskies still might not have a starting punter once the game was over.

It wasn’t until the 1:11 mark in the third quarter that Jack McCallister finally ran on to the field to kick the ball away for Washington — which was up by 25 at that point.


How did the Huskies get their points? For one, their offense was wide open. Penix hit nine different receivers in the first half — he targeted eight in the first quarter alone — to finish with 230 passing yards at halftime.

There were five consecutive completions on the next Huskies drive (including a 22-yard dime to Rome Odunze) which ended in a UW touchdown. There would have been six straight completions on the following drive had Devin Culp not dropped a pass, but the Huskies still scored to go up 28-7.

Washington fans rarely saw that type of efficiency from their quarterback last season, and when you have running back Wayne Taulapapa tallying 55 yards on nine carries through the first 30 minutes, it’s easy to see why Washington collected 317 yards by halftime (more than its total yardage for the entire game vs. Montana last year) and went into the locker room up 31-13. By game’s end, 10 different Huskies caught passes. 

“I love to watch everybody eat along with myself. I like to watch my teammates score touchdowns, and in this offense we can do that,” said Odunze, who had seven receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. “We can spread out the ball. Get everybody touches and get everybody to eat. That’s just a great feeling.”

How did the Huskies mitigate Kent State’s points? Well, it wasn’t total mitigation. The Golden Flashes still managed 340 yards and 20 points, but the defense made sure the game was never really in doubt.

It started with safety Asa Turner intercepting Kent State quarterback Collin Schlee on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Should the Huskies put together a championship season, that pick will serve as the poetic introduction to the DeBoer era. Turner had another interception late in the third quarter with UW up by 25, this one the result of pressure that kept Schlee scrambling throughout the evening.


More encouraging, though, were the 44 rushing yards Washington held Kent State to in the first half. Remember, the Huskies were 11th in the Pac-12 in rushing defense last season, which perhaps led to false conclusions about how few passing yards they gave up. Teams figured out they didn’t have to pass to beat UW. They just went Forrest Gump and kept on running.

Maybe that will end up being the case this season, too — but it wasn’t Saturday night, where aggressive “D” mostly paid dividends.

The “mostly” couch is due to Washington’s style making it susceptible to explosive plays. This was most evident in the first quarter, when Schlee connected on a 47-yard touchdown pass to Devontez Walker to cut UW’s lead to 14-7.

Don’t be surprised if you see a lot more of that this season. But it beats the alternative: running backs methodically barreling through Washington defenders.

So, fans, you just watched a team that plays boldly on both sides of the ball. Perhaps such audacity will prove costly as the season progresses. But for the sake of entertainment, bold is beautiful.