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30-Day Countdown Review: Part One

The first in a 3-part series looking at your predictions from before the season

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Valero Alamo Bowl Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If you only discovered our site during the last couple of months, welcome. For all others you probably are aware that every August we run the 30-day Countdown leading into the football regular season. Most days we ask a question related to the upcoming season and get your predictions by running a poll.

Since we’re now officially into the long, dark, cold offseason given that 2023 recruiting is over we thought it would be a good time to look back over your responses. This is the first in a 3-part look at the poll results to see where you as the general blog reading public were right or wrong.

Some of these are up to interpretation but I made a judgment call. Others are quite straight forward. Winners are in bold.

Day 30- Which Pac-12 player would you add to the Husky offense?

-TE Dalton Kincaid, Utah- 33%

-QB Tanner McKee, Stanford- 28%

-RB Deshaun Fenwick, OSU- 28%

-Other- 12%

This ended up being an extremely tight race but I think the winner from the poll at the beginning of August is probably the correct choice. The option we could eliminate right away was Tanner McKee for Stanford. 100/100 Husky fans would rather have had Michael Penix over McKee by the time we hit conference play even if McKee ends up being a fringe 1st round pick this offseason.

There is a reasonable argument to be made between Fenwick and Kincaid. Overall Fenwick averaged just shy of 5 yards per carry having lost the starting job to standout freshman Damien Martinez. He still ended up with 100+ yards in both games where he received 15+ carries (Fresno State and Florida).

Kincaid was the underappreciated man in Utah’s 2-headed TE monster along with Brant Kuithe when the original article was written. When Kuithe got hurt early it resulted in Kincaid nearly doubling his catch total from the previous season and finishing with 890 receiving yards and 8 TD catches. That’s including one of the more remarkable stat lines of the year when he had 16 catches (on 16 targets!) for 234 yards and a TD in a 1-point win over USC which in the end kept UW out of the Pac-12 title game. Culp and Westover weren’t bad this season but imagining Kincaid at the TE spot would’ve made the Husky offense truly unstoppable.

Day 29- Which Pac-12 player would you add to the Husky defense?

-Edge Korey Foreman, USC- 31%

-DL Popo Aumavae, Oregon- 28%

-CB Lu-Magia Hearns, California- 26%

-Other- 15%

Among the 3 choices I gave there ended up really only being one option. Korey Foreman didn’t really break out despite his prodigious talent as he was slowed by injuries again. It also turns out that the edge spot was the one place where the Husky defense didn’t need an upgrade. The duo of Bralen Trice and Jeremiah Martin were both clearly better than Foreman and it was at least close between Korey and ZTF. There’s a decent shot the former #1 overall recruit would’ve been UW’s 4th edge rusher.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s Popo Aumavae suffered a season ending injury in fall camp and so didn’t play in 2022. That leaves just Cal’s Lu-Magio Hearns who I decided was the best option of a non-transfer cornerback in the conference who was not on the preseason all-conference team. In 2021 he finished 16th in PFF grade among Pac-12 corners in his first season starting. That was right behind Christian Gonzalez who is now projected to be a 1st round pick. This year though Hearns dropped to 43rd and only played 6 games due to injury.

I think the way things played out that the answer had to be a cornerback and preferably one on the outside. If you want players that were at least pretty good in 2021 and also were good in 2022 who were also returners not on the all-conference team preseason (per my stated inclusion criteria) then the only 2 options were Arizona’s Christian Roland-Wallace and Oregon State’s Alex Austin. Roland-Wallace I left off because he had been on the list the prior year (and he’s now transferring to USC). If you want to pick from Other then I think Austin becomes the selection. Otherwise from that list, it was Hearns even if all underwhelmed.

Day 26- Which non-QB transfer will make the biggest impact?

-Wayne Taulapapa- 33%

-Jordan Perryman- 29%

-Cam Bright- 29%

-Kris Moll- 5%

-Other- 3%

The plurality gets it on this one even if the voting was very close. It turns out we were correct to add in the non-QB clause because inarguably Michael Penix Jr. was one of the 3 most important transfers in the entire country in addition to being the most important on the Husky roster. The three leading vote getters in the poll ended up being the only other new transfers that started the majority of games for Washington.

Taulapapa had some drops in the passing game and some failed 3rd/4th and short situations. But overall he averaged better than 6 yards per carry and was Washington’s most consistent back all season. While Cam Davis found the end zone more often, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a lot of Husky fans that didn’t want Papa as the main back by the time the Alamo Bowl rolled around (in which he starred).

Meanwhile Perryman and Bright each played at a lower level than could’ve reasonably been expected by Husky fans. Perryman suffered through injuries but overall was a below average corner in the Pac-12. That wouldn’t necessarily have been shocking for an FCS transfer except that he was hyped up by both the coaches and the media in the preseason. Bright had been very good for a very good ACC program but didn’t end up translating to the Husky coaching staff’s scheme.

Day 24- Who will lead the team in sacks?

-Zion Tupuola-Fetui- 61%

-Bralen Trice- 16%

-Sav’ell Smalls- 11%

-Voi Tunuufi- 4%

-Dom Hampton- 4%

-Another Edge- 2%

-Another LB- 1%

-Another DL- 1%

I know what you were all thinking. I was thinking it too. So was the author of the article because you’ll notice that Jeremiah Martin was not even one of the options. We were thinking that it’s crazy that ZTF isn’t listed as a starter on the depth chart and is running with the 2’s. Surely with an extra offseason he’ll bounce back from his torn achilles and look like the player we remember from the 3-game sample during the 2020 COVID season.

It turns out that didn’t quite happen. Instead, Trice led the country in QB pressures and with 10 sacks won this by a significant margin over everyone except the aforementioned Martin (8.5 sacks). ZTF finished 3rd on the team with 4.5 while Tunuufi was right behind him with 4 of his own.

Day 21- Jake Eldrenkamp Award (Most likely to be missed despite not being appreciated enough in the moment)

-Race Porter- 31%

-Ryan Bowman- 29%

-Sean McGrew- 16%

-Luke Wattenberg- 11%

-Bookie Radley-Hiles- 8%

-Jackson Sirmon- 3%

-Kamari Pleasant- 2%

This one was tough to call. I think we saw the absolute biggest drop-off at the punter spot going from Da Gawd Race Porter to true freshman walk-on Jack McAllister. The young McAllister really struggled at times. And that might’ve been a big problem except the Huskies basically never needed to punt. In fact they punted less than any other team in the country. Hard to win the Eldrenkamp award when your position is relegated to an afterthought.

The answer can’t be Bowman, Wattenberg, McGrew, or Pleasant because Washington seemingly upgraded at their positions this year. The combo of Taulapapa/Davis was more effective than McGrew/Pleasant even if I think the old RB duo would’ve had a lot more success in this offense than the previous one. Meanwhile Bralen Trice and Jeremiah Martin didn’t exactly have Husky fans pining for Ryan Bowman to return (we love you, Ryan). Finally, Corey Luciano got his chance as a senior and was one of the better centers in the conference and at worst was a lateral move from Wattenberg.

That leaves us with Bookie Radley-Hiles and Jackson Sirmon. Washington really struggled at corner but Dom Hampton in the Husky spot was the spiritual successor to Radley-Hiles’ nickel spot. Hampton didn’t have a fantastic season but he was good enough that I wasn’t longing for Bookie to return. That means the winner is Sirmon who was criticized heavily while at Washington but proved the grass isn’t always greener.

Day 20- Which projected non-starter to begin the year will have the most impact this season?

-WR Giles Jackson- 53%

-DL Voi Tunuufi- 24%

-CB Davon Banks- 11%

-LB Kris Moll- 10%

-Other- 3%

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to give this one to Jackson but ultimately I’m selecting Tunuufi. Jackson finished with 28 catches for 328 yards and 1 TD plus 9 carries for 48 yards. He never really had a breakout performance as a kick returner as many expected after he ran 2 back for TDs when playing for Michigan. That was solid but the 4 sacks for Tunuufi in limited playing time stand out just a little bit more for me.

It’s worth considering who else could have been a nominee. I think since Jeremiah Martin was listed consistently as a co-starter on the depth chart that he can’t be on there. Cam Davis was close enough to 50/50 with Taulapapa in the preseason that I don’t think he’s eligible. Julius Irvin would’ve had a chance if he had stayed healthy. Kamren Fabiculanan got a good amount of playing time and is worth mentioning but wasn’t exactly a standout. In the end it was a reasonable list in the poll.


We’ll be back later with part two.