Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Notes from the opponent: Washington

Courtesy of Maddy Grassy/The Daily UW
Zion Tupuola-Fetui celebrates after a tackle during the Washington football game at the 2022 Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome on December 28.

The Daily Texan chatted with the sports editor of The Daily UW, Ethan Kilbreath, about the familiar matchup of No. 2 Washington and No. 3 Texas going into the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl. 

Daily Texan: Washington is in the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2016. What does this mean to Washington, and what was the reaction from the team and around campus?

Ethan Kilbreath: So the Huskies actually didn’t have a watch party like a lot of teams do, they just kind of [did] business as usual. They knew that they were gonna get in, pretty much, after the PAC-12 Championship. Kalen DeBoer is not the type of coach to get too hype or too amped up about those kinds of things. It’s kind of an “enjoy the moment” thing, and then move on to the next goal at hand. [On campus], it’s really on the tip of everybody’s tongue, which has been a huge transformation because two years ago, people were just not in the mood to really talk about UW football. But this year, everyone’s talking about it. This year, the average fan has become a hardcore fan — people that wouldn’t otherwise care have really gotten into it. It’s definitely been really, really exciting on campus.

DT: What is different about this team going into the Sugar Bowl than it was going into the Alamo Bowl last year?

EK: I think that the defense has improved over the course of this season. Something that people have knocked is the Huskies defense, but, really, they’ve come up with big stops when they need to win games. Everything that they did well last year, they’ve just refined a little bit this year. I don’t think there’s anything that’s drastically different about this roster from last year. It’s the fact that all the stars from last year, after having a great season, decided they were all going to come back and see how far they can go. All of those players have gotten even better, and gotten better at playing together and figuring out how to win, and that’s why they won 20 games in a row.

DT: Texas has its glue guys on the offense and defensive side of the ball. Who would you say those would be for Washington?

EK: I would say for the offense it’s tight end Jack Westover. Being a tight end, he’s not gonna catch 100 passes in a season, catch 15 touchdowns or be a finalist for the Heisman, but he really is someone that has reliable hands — you throw the ball, he’s gonna be there. On defense, it would probably be Carson Bruener. He just does not miss tackles. He’s always there filling holes on runs. He’s another guy who really puts his heart and soul into it. 

DT: What do the Huskies need to do to beat Texas?

EK: I think the important thing for the Huskies offense is to be okay taking what the defense gives them. The Huskies really like to utilize the deep ball and these big explosive plays. But at times this season, they’ve had to move away from that. It’s been important for Penix to be okay taking those check downs, utilize the run game and have a balanced offense. He’s done a great job of being disciplined and being able to do that. Texas has a very good offense and it’s sort of similar to coming with that high powered offense that Oregon has. It starts with the pass rush, the Huskies have a very good defensive line led by Bralen Trice. He needs to have a big game being able to get to Quinn Ewers. It’s a bend but don’t break type thing — give up yards, they give up a lot of points. But if the Huskies offense does what they’re supposed to do. This is going to be a close game, and it’s going to come down to making one or two stops in our fourth quarter. 

DT: Finally, last question: who are the most important players that Texas needs to be watching out for on either side of the ball?

EK: Definitely Rome Odunze on offense. He has 13 touchdown catches now on the season. He’s fast, he’s strong. He has some of the strongest hands out of any wide receiver I’ve ever seen. Odunze definitely has been the Huskies number one option this entire season. On defense, a guy that’s been really stepping up to the Huskies is Jabbar Muhammad at cornerback. He’s had a lot of past breakups, he transferred from Oklahoma State and he’s been huge for the Husky secondary.

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