Welcome to the silly season. For college football teams, this is the notable gap between spring football practice and the opener. Where experts, make that daydreamers, take over and try to fill in the blanks.
This is the time for predictions, projections, promises and downright tomfoolery.
A year ago, everyone including this website pegged a veteran University of Washington football team for a nine- to 10-win season. A top 20 ranking. A nice bowl game in the sunshine somewhere.
How did that turn out?
Well, no one, absolutely no one, foresaw a total face-plant for the boys from Montlake. Not only did they win a measly four games, the Huskies had to pull out wins over California, Arizona and Stanford either in overtime, the closing minutes and the final seconds, respectively.
For whatever reason, former coach Jimmy Lake’s second UW team was not competitive.
After all, what other Power 5 entry has lost to Montana? When was the last Husky team to drop five games at home in the supposed greatest setting in college football?
There’s a new sheriff in town in Kalen DeBoer and people just now are starting to envision what his first UW ball club might do. Yet with last season’s big letdown, prognosticators are going to treat anything they say about the Huskies with a great amount of trepedation.
This week, a fairly obscure website decided that DeBoer’s first team will go 7-5 during the regular season, losing to Michigan State, UCLA, California, Oregon State and Oregon.
A fairly reputable 247Sports suggested that the Huskies, who haven’t played in the postseason since beating Boise State in the 2019 Las Vegas Bowl, will wind up back in Sin City finishing up against LSU.
The hardest thing to gauge about DeBoer’s first UW team is its physicality. In 2021, the Huskies regularly got manhandled on both sides of the ball. A veteran offensive line was a big disappointment. A patched-up defensive line was like a matador, waving running backs through.
While the new coach has brought in 11 portal transfers, none of them are linemen. He’s betting his hand-picked weight-room coach Ron McKeefery can get all of the holdovers stronger and tougher, that two-time, first-team All-Pac-12 offensive tackle Jaxson Kirkland can get healthy and play like a first-round draft pick and that promising redshirt freshman defensive tackle Kuao Peihopa will anchor the D-line.
Offensive points and nonstop passes will be a given for this team. That’s scoring and throwing them. However, with the Huskies’ NFL-bound cornerbacks Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon in the pros now, the defense might be dealing with points and passes in large quantities, too.
That said, we, too, take advantage of this lull in the action to enter into this madness and predict the coming UW season. Our formula is always to pick an upset win and an upset loss that few others saw coming. We’re admittedly optimistic after watching spring practice, same as last year. Here goes:
Sept. 3, Kent State — In a match-up of Don James’ two head-coaching stops, the Huskies treat DeBoer, the legend’s eighth UW successor, to a debut victory. (UW, 1-0)
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Sept. 10, Portland State — The UW takes out its 2021 Montana frustration on its first Big Sky opponent since the unthinkable happened. (UW, 2-0)
Sept. 17, Michigan State — Sonny Sixkiller began building his Husky reputation by beating a favored Spartans team 52 years earlier. DeBoer surprisingly does the same, exciting the fan base no end with a primetime upset. (UW, 3-0)
Sept. 24, Stanford — David Shaw and DeBoer met once before, in the 1996 NAIA championship game. Shaw was a Western Washington tight-ends coach, DeBoer a Sioux Falls wide receiver. DeBoer’s team won by three TDs. He does it again. (UW, 4-0)
Sept. 30, at UCLA — DeBoer’s Fresno State team upset the Bruins 40-37 in the Rose Bowl the year before. Not this time. UCLA wins this hard-fought Friday encounter 38-35. (UW, 4-1)
Oct. 8, at Arizona State — The Sun Devils haven’t been the same since they went on infraction notice, waiting to hear if they’ve broken any rules, and the UW adds to their misery. (UW, 5-1)
Oct. 15, Arizona — The Wildcats are steadily rebuilding, but they’re still not good enough to win in Seattle. (UW, 6-1)
Oct. 22, at California — There are just too many former Husky coaches and players for DeBoer’s UW team to handle — Wilcox, Sirmon, Sirmon, Watson and Brown —. and the Bears prevail in an upset. (UW, 6-2)
Nov. 4, Oregon State — On a Friday night at Husky Stadium, the Beavers and Huskies play another close one, but Peyton Henry’s field goal wins it at the end this time. (UW, 7-2)
Nov. 12, at Oregon — The Ducks have won 15 of the past 17 games, ample payback for the UW capturing 17 of 20 series outings in 1974-1993 when Jim Owens and Don James were coaching. Ah, but Oregon makes DeBoer, the new guy, pay for his rivalry association. (UW, 7-3)
Nov. 19, Colorado — The Huskies gave one away in Boulder last season that they had no business losing. DeBoer stops that nonsense. (UW, 8-3)
Nov. 25, at WSU — Sam Huard gets pressed into emergency quarterback duty and throws four touchdowns in the Palouse, offsetting his four interceptions in 2021 against WSU. (UW, 9-3)
Feel free to debate, argue or dismiss any of this. Remember, it’s the silly season. If not, see you at the Holiday Bowl … in a rematch against Michigan State. It’s difficult to beat a team twice in a season. The Huskies lose a close one. Still, the UW enjoys a season it should have posted last fall. (UW, 9-4)
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