It wasn’t a perfect night on Montlake, but a quick start yet again for the Washington Huskies helped UW start the season 4-0 under 1st year Head Coach Kalen DeBoer in a 40-22 win against Stanford.
The red-hot Huskies offense continued where they left off last week with quarterback Michael Penix Jr. throwing for 309 yards and 2 second half touchdowns. The Huskies got the running game going more this week with Virginia Grad tranfer Wayne Taulapapa having his best game in purple and gold; he ran for 120 yards and a touchdown.
The real story of this game was the pressure that Washington got on Stanford QB Tanner Mckee, as the Dawgs defense forced 8 sacks and 3 turnovers, scoring 17 points off of the takeaways.
The offensive line continued to keep Penix Jr. clean as I do not think he was hit once in the entire game and has not taken a sack through 4 games, which is remarkable. Penix continued to spread the wealth to his receivers, with Rome Odunze taking his turn having the big game, with 161 yards receiving on 8 receptions and a touchdown.
The Huskies start PAC-12 play 1-0 and most UW fans should be pleased with the performance against Stanford, a program that has given Washington fits over the years under David Shaw. As always though, there are things to nitpick, even after an 18 point win. I though Penix was off with his timing and touch on some throws more often than he was in the first 3 weeks. A part of that is Stanford did not have as many busted coverages as Michigan State had last week, but Penix had some accuracy issues for the first time on some key throws that could have blown the game wide open sooner. He had Odunze wide open on a double move early on the left side early in the game that he missed on, and had some shorter and intermediate routes that he missed, particularly in the 2nd quarter that might have kept Stanford in the game. Luckily, the running game was really solid and that took some of the pressure off of Penix. What Penix does so well is put the ball in tight spaces and give his receivers opportunities to do damage after the catch, and it just seemed like there was a stretch where the timing was uncharacteristically off.
On defense, as mentioned earlier the front was the story of the game, but unlike the Michigan State game where they shut out the Spartans run game, Casey Filkins did a nice job for Stanford to pick up an average of 5 yards a carry against UW in route to 100 yards rushing. The forced turnovers and pressure on the Cardinal QB kind of masks some deficiencies the defense has, like giving up the big play like that 73 yard TD pass for Stanford late in the 4th when the game was already decided.
Overall though, to start 4-0 for the first time since 2017 is big for Kalen DeBoer and his staff, and you have to very pleased with a lot of different things the Dawgs are doing right now. They seem to be playing with a different edge, a passion that was not there consistently a year ago. Tougher challenges lay ahead, like undefeated UCLA in Pasadena on Friday and trips to Eugene and Pullman, but the Deboer era could not have started any better.