No. 10 Washington begins the season Saturday when it plays host to Boise State.
But don’t expect Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to worry too much about the names on the opposing jerseys.
“It’s just us versus us, Washington versus Washington,” said Penix, who finished second in the nation with 4,641 yards passing last season, establishing a UW single-season record. “It doesn’t matter about nobody else. Whatever hype or anything, we just have to go do what we come to do and that’s just all it’s about for me.”
There’s certainly plenty of hype surrounding the Huskies in the second year of coach Kalen DeBoer’s tenure. They went 11-2 last year with the No. 2-ranked offense in the country (516.2 yards per game) and defeated Texas in the Alamo Bowl. Penix is considered a Heisman Trophy candidate and wide receiver Rome Odunze and edge rusher Bralen Trice were preseason All-Americans.
“It’s not about what other people expect us to do and what other people feel. We keep it inside the walls, and we don’t let ourselves get too high or we don’t get too low,” Penix said. “We’re just doing everything that we can to win football games. As far as expectations, we expect ourselves to do better than we did last year. As far as other people’s expectations, we can’t control that. We just have to control what we can control.
“I just go out there and just play my best football. And that’s all it’s about.”
The Huskies are without starting running back Cameron Davis, who totaled 522 yards and led the Pac-12 with 13 rushing touchdowns last season. Davis suffered a season-ending lower-body injury in fall camp. Mississippi State transfer Dillon Johnson is expected to get the bulk of the carries.
Washington will be playing in its final season in the Pacific-12 Conference before moving to the Big Ten in 2024.
Wide receiver Jalen McMillan said the Huskies haven’t gotten caught up in the realignment repercussions.
“Not really,” said McMillan, who said he turns off social media during fall camp. “When the news dropped, everyone was talking about it, but as players, we just want to win the game and win the national championship.”
The Broncos, who went 10-4 last season and beat North Texas in the Frisco Bowl, are favored to win the Mountain West Conference title. Starting quarterback Taylen Green, a dual threat, returns and George Holani will be seeking his third straight 1,000-yard rushing season.
Boise State is seeking its first MWC title since 2019.
“Being a successful team for us is defined by winning a championship,” Broncos coach Andy Avalos said. “Being successful and winning a bowl game and building this team throughout the course of the year.”
The Broncos know they won’t have an easy time at Husky Stadium, one of the loudest venues in the country.
“There’s just no tuning it out. There really isn’t,” said Boise State offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan, who spent five seasons on the UW staff. “I tell these guys all the time, it’s not going to be a situation you just go out there and you tune 75,000 people out, and 350 boats on the water and the city and the experience. We’ve got to be aware of it. You’ve got to take it all in.”
–Field Level Media