Washington Huskies scouting report
Head coach: Kalen DeBoer, 1st season (8-2; 87-11 career)
This season: 8-2, 5-2 Pac-12
Rankings: No. 15 (Associated Press, Coaches), No. 17 (CFP)
Last week: Won at Oregon, 37-34
5 Players to Watch
• Edge Jeremiah Martin: So far this season, he’s racked up 35 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He’s second on the team in TFLs and sacks. He also has three QB hurries and a forced fumble.
• WR Rome Odunze: He’s caught 63 passes for 914 yards and six touchdowns — leading Washington in all three categories. Averaging 101.6 receiving yards per game, which leads the Pac-12 and ranks eighth nationally. He’s got five 100-yard games, the first Husky with that many in a season since Reggie Williams in 2003.
• QB Michael Penix Jr.: The nation’s leading passer with 3,640 yards. He has completed 67.1% of his passes, with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. In his career, he has a 20-7 record as a starter (12-5 at Indiana, 8-2 at Washington).
• RB Wayne Taulapapa: Leads the Huskies with 546 rushing yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry and scoring seven touchdowns. A transfer from Virginia, he has just one career 100-yard game (120 yards vs. Stanford on Sept. 24), but has five games over 50 yards this year.
• LB Bralen Trice: This season, he leads Washington with 10 tackles for loss and seven sacks, ranking top five in the Pac-12 in both categories. He’s got 28 total tackles, in addition to three QB hurries.
It all starts with quarterback Michael Penix Jr., a transfer from Indiana who has transformed the Huskies. Washington throws the ball on 59% of its offensive snaps and they’re usually productive. Penix is also good at spreading the ball around, as seven different players have least 20 catches this season and nine different players have caught a touchdown pass. When they do run, Wayne Taulapapa (546 yards, 7 TD) and Cameron Davis (408 yards, 11 TD) have been a great 1-2 punch.
For years, Washington was known for its defense. This isn’t one of the great UW defenses, but the Huskies still have some great players. They know how to get after the quarterback (27 sacks, tied for third in Pac-12). However, they give up 27.6 points per game and have been vulnerable against the pass when they don’t get to the QB. They’re allowing opposing QBs to complete 64.5% of their passes and the Huskies are 120th nationally in pass efficiency defense (153.7 rating). UW is better against the run, giving up just 3.8 yards per carry.
Washington special teams
Senior Peyton Henry is one of the best kickers in the Pac-12 and he’s wrapping up a great five-year career with the Huskies. This season, he is 15-of-17 on field goal attempts, with a long of 50 yards. In his career, he’s 67-of-83 (80.7%). On extra points, he’s 174-of-176, including making all 69 since the start of last season. Jack McCallister averages 41.0 yards per punt, but UW’s net average of 33.8 ranks 127th nationally.
How Washington can win
It’s becoming a common theme for CU opponents down the stretch, but the Huskies simply need to show up and play to their capabilities to win this game. They haven’t had trouble putting points on the board this season (38.4 per game, 13th nationally). So, as long as they are productive on offense and play solid defensively, they’ll coast past the Buffs.
• At 8-2, Washington is enjoying its best 10-game start to a season since 2017 (also 8-2). The last two times the Huskies started 8-2 (2016, 2017), they went on to win at least 10 games.
• The Huskies are 6-0 at home this season. With a win against CU, they would finish with a perfect home record for the third time in the Pac-12 era (also 2017 and 2018).
• Washington tends to get off to a strong start. The Huskies have scored on their first possession in nine of 10 games, including eight touchdowns. They’ve also scored on the opening drive of the second half eight times in 10 games.
• Michael Penix Jr. has nine games with at least 300 passing yards this season, which is the most in the FBS. He threw for 408 in last week’s win at Oregon. The only time he didn’t throw for 300 yards was in a 24-21 win against Oregon State, when he finished with 298 yards.
• Prior to coming to Washington, DeBoer went 12-6 in two seasons at Fresno State. In his other stop as a head coach, he went 67-3 in five seasons (2005-09) at Sioux Falls, winning three NAIA championships.