We have made it through a wild and eventful college football offseason and we are now only 30 days from UW’s 2022 season kickoff. That means it’s also time to start our annual 30-day Countdown series in which we provide 30 season preview posts in 30 days.
Today, we will start the series by looking across the conference at the three players from the conference who could slide into UW’s starting lineup on the offensive side of the ball. For this exercise, I tried to focus on returning Pac-12 players who did not make the preseason All-Conference team as determined by media polling.
QB Tanner McKee, Stanford
2021 Stats- 65.4% completion%, 7.4 Y/A, 15/7 TD/INT
One of UW’s biggest question marks in 2022 is the QB position after sub-par performances from Dylan Moore and Sam Huard (in limited opportunities) last season. Michael Penix Jr. has transferred in from Indiana with a checkered injury history of his own. It’s natural to think about alternatives at the QB position in an exercise like this one. The issue is that the rest of the conference largely has QB questions of their own. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, in his 93rd season at UCLA, and Cam Rising at Utah are strong options, but they made the All Pac-12 preseason team. I have also excluded USC’s Caleb Williams as an incoming transfer.
That leaves McKee, who was not a star in 2021, but was a steady option on a poor roster. His stats put him in the middle of the pack for the conference. For a first-year starter, that’s a respectable outcome. Factor in the departures of many of the players ahead of him and it’s not hard to see him as a top-three returning QB in the conference. McKee was also an elite recruit coming into Stanford. He was rated in the top-50 nationally, on the verge of earning a fifth star, and in the top five QBs by most ratings. He has an NFL body (6’6”, 220 lbs) and a strong arm. If Kalen Deboer can coax video game stats out of Jake Haener, it’s worth asking what he could do for someone with these physical traits. Is McKee definitely superior to Penix, Morris, and Huard? That’s a fair question, and one I’m not prepared to answer without evidence provided by better coaching.
RB Deshaun Fenwick, Oregon State
2021 Stats- 448 yards, 5.7 Y/A, 4 TD
Similar to the slate of returning QBs, the top choice RBs made the All-Conference team- Zach Charbonnet, Tavion Thomas, Travis Dye, and Byron Cardwell. Looking a layer deeper, there is a very strong RB option in Corvallis set to take over full time for BJ Baylor, who is now in Green Bay. Fenwick transferred from South Carolina a year ago and excelled in limited playing time. He is a bruiser at 6’3” and 230 lbs. While Kaleb Deboer has historically favored runners in the 200 lb range who can add something in the passing game, it would be hard to pass up such a powerhouse in a RB room that has no one of his ilk. UW’s projected RB rotation is a question, less because of the depth and more because of poor performance in 2021. Most observers agree that the struggles derived from predictable play-calling, so changing the personnel may not matter as much as changing the tactics.
TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah
2021 Stats- 36 Receptions, 510 Yards, 8 TD
The TE position is the one on UW’s offensive depth chart with the fewest sure things. Devin Culp and Jack Westover are the presumptive top two in the rotation. While the Deboer and Grubb offense will likely focus less on the TE position than their predecessors, a proven and dynamic option at the position would be a great security blanket for whichever QB takes the most snaps. Kincaid’s Utah teammate Brant Kuithe would be the top option if he didn’t make the All-Conference team. But the Utes feature a pair of TEs and Kincaid’s 8 TDs last year demonstrate his ability as a reliable playmaker and mismatch. At 6’4” and 242 lbs., Kincaid fits the physical mold of 250 pounders Culp and Westover, and should be able to offer something in the blocking game. Like McKee, Kincaid saw his first full-time gig in 2021 and likely has further room to improve with more opportunities.
Verdict: I’m not certain that McKee is a meaningful upgrade over the combination of QBs currently available to UW. On the other hand, I believe Kincaid has a higher ceiling than UW’s TE options. Since that position is also rather thin, the extra body also adds value.
Which Pac-12 player would you add to the UW offense?
This poll is closed
QB Tanner McKee
RB Deshaun Fenwick
TE Dalton Kincaid
Other (add in comments)