Former Washington QB Brock Huard explains why the 2022 Apple Cup will be 'epic'
We’ll get a good-on-good matchup Saturday for the Apple Cup between Washington and Washington State.
The Huskies are led by their nation-leading passer, Michael Penix Jr. The aerial attack has been dynamic and explosive this season, helping to power UW to a 9-2 record in head coach Kalen DeBoer’s first year. Washington State possesses arguably the best defense in the Pac-12, with a conference-best 19.8 points per game allowed and only 5.3 yards allowed per play.
“What this sets up is an epic Apple Cup. It does,” FOX analyst and former UW quarterback Brock Huard said this week on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. “Both teams are playing tremendous. Both teams have found who they are.”
Huard said he’s expecting a nail-bitter kind of game, one that goes down to the wire. The Huskies played one of those just two weeks ago down in Eugene and emerged victorious thanks to Penix’s heroics.
UW’s first-year man leads the country in passing with nearly 3,900 yards. He’s one of the best explosive play conductors in college football and has been kept upright for most of the year. Washington is tied for the second-fewest sacks allowed all year, giving up just seven with a 1.1% sack rate.
“The Huskies’ o-line is playing as good as they’ve played since 2016. Receivers, obviously, as good as they played since 2016,” Huard said. “And Penix (is) right there with Jake Browning, ripping up some of his records – not gonna quite catch his 40-some touchdown passes that year.”
“On the other side, WSU’s D-line. When WSU has been very good, there’s been one common theme through the decades — their defensive line, I faced them in ’97, a bunch of NFL dudes … and they were awesome. Early 2000s, tremendous defensive line. And what they’re doing on that side of the ball all season long playing eight, nine, 10 guys, something that’s not normally the case at WSU where it’s hard to find quality d-linemen and front seven people. And their middle linebacker (Daiyan Henley) is an All-American.”
Washington has more explosive pass plays (15-plus yards) than any other team in the country. If there’s a place Wazzu has been burned this year, it’s there. Think USC’s defense. The much-maligned Trojans have given up 66 explosive pass plays. Wazzu has given up 67.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT on Saturday (ESPN).