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

Players to watch: Washington Huskies

Michael Penix Jr., Quarterback 

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. passes the football during UW’s game against Michigan State on September 16, 2023, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. (Courtesy of Evan Morud/The Daily UW)

The sixth-year senior has been tearing it up since transferring to Washington in 2022. Penix has a pair of 4,000-yard seasons as a Huskie, amassing 4,218 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2023, most and third most in the nation, respectively. 2023 will mark the second straight season Penix lands in the top two passing yards in the country.

Penix is a true gunslinger, averaging over 35 passing attempts per game with under 30 rush attempts on the season. The Washington offense ranks 11th in the nation with over 37 points per game while ranking bottom six in rushing attempts per game. Penix out-dueled Oregon’s fellow Heisman candidate quarterback Bo Nix last weekend, defeating the Ducks 34-31 with Penix throwing for 319 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Washington lives and dies by the pass with its star lefty quarterback.

Dillon Johnson, Running Back 

Washington Huskies running back Dillon Johnson dives for a touchdown during Washington’s game versus the University of Southern California Saturday, November 4, 2023 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Courtesy of Maddy Grassy/The Daily UW)

With the Huskies staying away from the ground most of the game, Johnson has become a secret weapon for head coach Kalen DeBoer’s offense. The junior Mississippi State transfer has accumulated over 1,100 rushing yards on the season, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Johnson, who never saw over 90 carries in any season at Mississippi State, has grown exceptionally well into his 200+ carries role. 

With true freshman Tybo Rogers being the only other running back with double-digit carries on the season, Johnson’s role will only increase the more impactful these games are. Johnson had a career game against the Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship, rushing for 152 yards and two touchdowns, both the second most in a game in his career. After a breakout 256 yards, four touchdown performance against USC earlier in the year, Johnson has been averaging 106 yards and a touchdown in his last four games. Expect to see No. 7 on the field a lot when the Longhorns are on defense. 

Rome Odunze, Wide Receiver

University of Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze acknowledges the crowd after catching a pass for a touchdown during UW’s game against Washington State University on Nov. 25, 2023 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, WA. (Courtesy of Evan Morud/The Daily UW)

Odunze is one of the most exciting players in the country, racking up over 1,400 receiving yards and only trailing LSU’s Malik Nabers in yardage. Odunze has the whole package at the receiving position, standing at a 6-foot-3-inch frame with deadly speed. The junior receiver broke out in 2022 but has turned into one of the nation’s best in 2023. Odunze is also top 10 in receiving touchdowns, including six in his final three regular season games. The Vegas product has dragged in over 100 yards in his last four games, ramping up his catches and targets each game. With Texas’ weaker secondary and pass defense, the future-first round pick may be a nightmare for the Texas defense.

Bralen Trice, Linebacker 

Washington edge Bralen Trice prepares to rush the passer during UW’s game against Michigan State on September 16, 2023, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. (Courtesy of Evan Morud/The Daily UW)

The Huskies and Longhorns run similar defensive schemes, each favoring the two off-ball linebackers, two edge rushers and three cornerback packages. Trice plays a similar role to that of Barryn Sorrell, constantly rushing the quarterback and plugging his long arms in the rushing game. Trice stands at a daunting 6 feet, 4 inches, 275 pounds and is a menace in both facets of the defense. Trice has amassed 14 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss between his sophomore and junior seasons. Trice has been able to take over games by himself on the defensive end, generating 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack in an away game against Oregon State that Washington had to win to stay in title contention. The pass rusher was named to the 2023 All-Pac-12 First Team, one of two Huskies to be, and made PFF’s All-American First Team. The Huskies’ defense has its struggles, but Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers will need to watch out for the speed and strength of Trice on the edge.

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About the Contributor
Evan Vieth, Senior Sports Reporter
Evan is a junior journalism major and the sports editor for the Texan. He is originally from Washington DC and has covered UT sports for 4 semesters and counting. He has covered the Men's Tennis, Soccer, Baseball and Football teams and had the opportunity to write about the 2023 Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.