Welcome everyone to Day 8 of our 30 Day Countdown. Pretty soon, we’ll be hitting somebody else, for a change. But even before this season gets going, we’ve had to deal with a few ongoing storylines this offseason that are sure to persist throughout the regular season and beyond. Let’s get into the storylines that are sure to make us groan as they’re brought up throughout the year.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll try to stay as relevant to UW as possible. That means that I can’t rant and rave about the near constant coverage of Deion Sanders at Colorado, as much as I would like to.
Grubb’s Back, But For How Long?
When Kalen Deboer introduced the first hire of his new coaching staff, I didn’t know who Ryan Grubb was. I, along with the rest of the country, learned very quickly who he was and what he could do. The turnaround was impressive, with the Dawgs leading the nation in pass yards per game, first downs per game, and third down conversion percentage, while going from 21.5 points per game in 2021, to 39.7 points per game last year. But in January, the news that Grubb, who received 2 extensions already, was interviewing for the Alabama OC job was disheartening, nerve wracking, and a seemingly inevitable conclusion, because we can’t have nice things, as Nick Saban will ruin them all eventually. Grubb flew to Tuscaloosa, met with the athletic department, and coaching staff, and decided to stay with UW this season. He cited that there was so much returning talent, and unfinished business with this particular group of kids as a reason for his return. This was about the best outcome possible if you’re a fan, and his return is one of the bigger reasons that I’m so excited for this upcoming season.
But, that just serves to highlight the ever increasing turnover in the college coaching ranks. This time next year, Grubb could be with the Huskies, or he could be in a higher profile program, or perhaps running his own program as a head coach. People may put roots down for a few years but after that, anything can happen. Expect when cameras cut to him in the booth, the announcers at least mention the Alabama trip, followed by comments that reference Grubb’s desire to become a head coach someday. This speculation will no doubt pick up in the months ahead as more and more jobs open up. The coaching carousel rests for no man, and Grubb is no exception. The good thing is that the Dawgs got him for another year, and that should no doubt be exciting.
Death of a Conference
The death of the PAC 12 has seemingly been all anybody has wanted to talk about for the past 12 months. And much of it is justified. But with UW and Oregon going over to the Big Ten in 2024, we’re sure to hear it when UW goes over to East Lansing in Week 3 to play Michigan State, and of course throughout the year whenever UW plays USC, Utah, and the Arizona schools. It’s either a colossal shame, or really awesome that this is shaping up to be the best year in the PAC’s history, it’s final one in a form that we recognize. I honestly think it’s a little bit of both. But, I suppose that this is going to be like the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, or Abbey Road. In both cases, it was well understood by everyone behind the scenes that this was the end of the line. And in both cases, it brought the best out of everyone involved. Maybe it’ll be the same here.
Maybe we’ll see Caleb Williams and Michael Penix Jr. duel in the Coliseum, trying to one up each other. Maybe Stanford or Colorado, or WSU, or Cal can cause chaos? Maybe Oregon State contends? Maybe WSU, or Arizona, or Stanford takes that next step toward contention? Whatever happens, for everyone in the PAC, this’ll be one heck of a ride.
The quarterback depth across the conference is the best it’s been in a long while. Caleb Williams, Michael Penix, Bo Nix, Cam Ward, Cam Rising and Jayden De Laura are all back with their respective teams, and DJU has joined a very good Oregon State squad after languishing at Clemson last season. This alone vaults the PAC 12 into the conversation for best conference in the country. To the national journalists: please, live in the moment. Give this conference it’s flowers. Because that’s what it deserves. We’ve come too far to not mourn the Conference of Champions.
Bent, but not Broken
Last year’s Husky defense was okay in defending the run but absolutely abysmal defending the pass. It got better as the season went on but after so many seasons of great defenses, with this new staff and scheme, it was an adjustment to be sure. There were a few signs of struggle very early on. Jordan Perryman got hurt, and as a result of that, we rotated guys in and out constantly. Aside from the shaky pass defense, the lack of consistent tackling was also a sore point for a lot of fans. Luckily, both were addressed in the transfer portal with the addition of Jabbar Muhammad, the cornerback from Oklahoma State, and Ralen Goforth, the hard hitting linebacker from USC. Whether that leads to a renaissance for the Husky defense, time will tell.
I definitely think they’ll be better, and part of that is due to returning experience at the EDGE position in Bralen Trice and ZTF, but I think it’s going to take a big leap to even be able to think about comparisons to the Pete K and Jimmy Lake defenses. Expect, when there’s a break in the action, that the announcers mention the defense and the transfers, as they are sure to be a part of living up to the expectations of a conference title.
Which storyline will we be most tired of by the end of the season?
This poll is closed
Ryan Grubb’s last season with the Huskies?
The last season of the Pac-12
The Husky defense needing to improve