Kalen DeBoer was rather emotional in the aftermath of Monday’s 34-13 loss to Michigan. The Huskies had reached their year-long goal — the right to play for a national championship — but they fell short.

While Michigan celebrated the ending of a drought, the mood in the locker room and the postgame press conference was much more somber with Washington. This one hurt. The Huskies believed they had a team that could do it, but in the championship game, everything just fell apart in ways it hadn’t previously.

“When you see players care so much about what’s happening on the football field, when you see them love each other, when you see them have expectations and when you fall short like we did tonight, you just — I’m sorry. I’m sorry that they couldn’t realize a championship this year,” DeBoer said after the game.

Washington entered the game averaging 350 yards per game through the air. Michael Penix Jr. was held to 255 by the Wolverines defense. The pass game had produced an explosive play (15-plus yards) every fourth attempt prior to Monday, and Michigan limited UW to just four on 51 pass attempts. Washington’s opponents averaged 137 yards per game on the ground entering the championship game, and Michigan ran for a title game record 303.

The Huskies have been able to jump on teams and force others to play the way they want. Michigan flipped that script on its head and dictated things.

Washington just never got rolling.

“We just couldn’t make that one play here and there,” DeBoer said.

And when they did — a 32-yard completion to Rome Odunze negated by a brutal hold — those plays were taken off the board.

“They made the sacrifices. They made the commitments. The goals that they had, the work supported it,” DeBoer said. “Tonight we couldn’t get over the hump. We couldn’t make the plays to tie the score. And sooner or later, when you’re playing a good football team like we played tonight, they find a way to get to you in the fourth quarter like they did.”

Washington will say goodbye to key players all over the field. Michael Penix Jr. and Rome Odunze and perhaps several others will depart for the NFL on the offensive side of the football. Edefuan Ulofoshio leaves a massive hole in the middle of the defense. Bralen Trice will be off to the NFL. Next year’s team will look much different.

“I just feel bad for the guys because they’ve given so much to each other. They’ve given me everything, everything they possibly can. And that’s why I feel the way I do because I’m going to miss them,” DeBoer said. “But I’m proud of them. Proud of what they’ve done for our program. I’m proud of what they have brought to our university, our community. And they’ve restored UW football, given us expectations that are what this program stands for and wants to have each and every year.”