Just over halfway through his first season on Montlake, Michael Penix Jr. has already made a huge impact on the field. Not only has he hit the ground running as a stabilizing presence and led a quick offensive turnaround, but he’s also made his way into the record books by breaking Cody Pickett’s single-game passing record with 516 passing yards against Arizona. At his current pace, Penix is on track for a 4300+ passing yards and 34 TDs in a 12-game regular season. That would put him at #2 all-time for single-season passing yards, passing TDs, and #13 for career passing yards. If you tack on a likely bowl game, Penix has a real shot at passing Pickett’s single-season passing yardage record.
With all of that in mind, the UWDP writers asked themselves, what could Penix’s long-term legacy really be?
Kirk DeGrasse: So, Penix - seems well on his way to the best single season QB performance in school history. The way he’s going, is it enough to put him in contention for being considered the best QB in school history, even if it ends up just one season? Is it enough of a “Corey Dillon” kind of year the way it’s trending?
Raymond Lucas Jr.: Does he only stay one year though? I’d imagine scouts would want him to go back to school and prove he can stay healthy another season. But that might just be the fan in me not wanting him to leave.
Andrew Berg: Team success factors into evaluation for QBs too. It’s not that you have to go 12-1 to be a good QB, but it’s the most important position on the field. If they go 7-5, Penix would have to obliterate every record for it to be a better season than 16 Browning and others. If Penix plays this way for 2 years, gets us to 8-9 wins with a bowl, then gets to double digits next year, that’s a good case.
Coach B: For Penix, he’s making a good argument for best QB season ever statistically. He’ll likely end up in the top 10 for a bunch of career passing records and set a bunch of single game and single season records but he probably won’t have any post season accolades that guys like Browning or Tuiasosopo have. Like Andrew said, it’ll take a lot to outweigh those team success things. Best UW QB season ever, very possible. Best UW QB ever overall, not likely without a second year and a big team turnaround.
Kirk: I can appreciate considering team success, but you also need to be fair in assessing credit (and blame) for team performance. I don’t think you can pin too much bad to Penix so far this season and you can give him a ton of credit for good. Jake was real good in 2016 and Marques was a heck of an all-around guy and difference-maker in 2000, but I don’t think either one played better as a QB than Penix has so far (though this does serve as a reminder that too many folks sleep on just how good Jake was pre-injury in 2016).
I also acknowledge that the game has changed (and continues to change) to favor the passing game, so it’s hard to truly, fairly compare quarterbacks across eras. I doubt Penix would be completing near 70% of his passes if he’d played in the DJ era or before.
It’s going to be fascinating to see the stay/go decision process for Penix (and for that matter Odunze). On the one hand, yeah, maybe staying a 2nd season, staying healthy and putting up big numbers again might lift him in draft circles. On the other hand, will it raise it that much? If he gets through this season unscathed (knocking furiously on wood) with the way he’s going, the smart play might be to go now because who better to know about the risk of injury derailing his career than Penix himself?
I also wonder if it kind of becomes a tag-team decision between Penix & Odunze. If Penix decides to stick around, does that make Odunze more likely to do the same? If Odunze decides to stick around, does that make Penix more likely to want another shot at things?
Coach B: I was looking at it from the perspective of Penix’s legacy. Because, you had referenced Corey Dillon, I was comparing Penix to Dillon and the fact that Dillon really isn’t that highly regarded in UW lore despite holding tons of records. Kaufman, Gaskin, and others are remembered way better than Dillon and I’d bet many younger UW fans don’t even know that Dillon played for UW.
In that same vein, I think a ton of younger UW fans also don’t know who Billy Joe Hobert is. I think it’s safe to say he was the QB with the greatest team success when he was at the helm for the 1991 national championship team, but he didn’t have eye popping individual performances and only one-ish year of starts for us.
With them in mind, I think Penix will be remembered fondly as one of the best QB performances if he’s only here for one season but maybe not remembered well long term.
Gabey Lucas: Yeah you pretty much summed up my thoughts on Rome too re: the draft and receivers.
Let us know what you think and leave a comment below.