Seattle, WA—The Washington Huskies looks completely different from last year and they are playing like they have a lot to prove this coming season.
Washington came out from the start of the contest and routed a Mid-American Conference foe Kent State 45-20 at Husky Stadium.
The Huskies scored all five times they had the ball in the first half on 28- and 1-yard runs respectively by running back Wayne Taulapapa and Cam Williams. QB Michael Penix Jr. threw passes of 32 and 4 yards to Taj Davis and Rome Odunze, they added a 38-field goal by Peyton Henry
Already, they are saying Penix should be picking out a suit to NYC for the Heisman. We will have to wait and see.
Penix, an Indiana transfer played lights out in his UW opener, completing 26 of 39 passes for 345 yards and 4 touchdowns, with no picks. He also rushed four times for 27 yards. He was very efficient with the ball in the pocket.
“I feel I made a lot of great plays today but without the O-line I wouldn’t have been able to do that,” said Penix. “I stayed up on my feet all game. I didn’t touch the ground. I thank them for that.”
The Golden Flashes’ Devontez Walker ran passed Powell up the left side and hauled in Schlee’s 47-yard TD strike to trim the UW lead to 14-7.
But the Huskies went back to work. Their offense wasn’t done for the day just yet.
Penix orchestrated a Huskies drive that went 75 yards, throwing to five different receivers before handing off to Cameron Davis going over the right side for a 21-7 lead with 1:18 left in the opening quarter.
In the second quarter, the UW forced a punt and Penix led his team to another score, mixing passes and runs. He finished off the drive by sidearming one to Odunze for the 4-yard score. This series was notable for the new UW staff trying their double-reverse, flea-flicker pass that drew a penalty rather than a totally surprised defense. That made it 28-7 with 5:23 left in the half.
The Golden Flashes hit a couple of field goals to but was down 31-13 at the break.
The Huskies made it six-for-six on scoring drives after coming out of half-time and they pushed the ball 74 yards in 13 plays to build their lead to 38-13.
Newly appointed UW coach Kalen DeBoer had a lot to smile about on the sidelines.
“There’s just great relationships being built right now; there’s great trust,” DeBoer said of his opening game success. “It’s something none of us take for granted. A.C. [Alex Cook] said some great things that I know mean a lot to me in the locker room about the leadership we’re providing. Even before we had a chance to do that, these guys were willing to open up their arms to us and let us in and let us coach them up.
“That’s hard to do, especially with the roller coaster they’ve been on being their third head coach some of these guys have had really in their last three years.”
Taulapapa led all Husky rushers with 57 yards on the ground and hitting the pay dirt once.
Odunze topped his team with 7 catches for 84 yards and a score and Jalen McMillan came up with 5 catches for 87 yards and two TDs. UW had 10 different players catch passes.
UW amassed 525 yards in total offense. That is a direct reflection of the hard work and dedication the coaches put in over the Spring.
In the final quarter, following a Golden Flash touchdown, Penix and McMillan countered with another scoring pass, this one covering 10 yards. The Husky receiver got free on one-one-one coverage over the middle, pushing the score 45-20 and never looked back.
“I thought we were just steady throughout the whole game,” DeBoer said. “Guys stepped up when they needed to. We got some turnovers and won the battle there and that’s always a huge thing. We just took what they gave us.”
Sophomore cornerback Mishael Powell had a 47-yard scoring pass that went over his head. The Golden Flashes also came up with 33- and 29-yard catches on the sometimes generous UW secondary in which DeBoer knows he has to shore up if he wants to be successful in the PAC-12 this season.