LOS ANGELES — In 2020, Washington was set to play for a Pac-12 championship before COVID problems in the program forced it to the sideline. In 2021, the Huskies went 4-8 and experienced a coaching change.

Out goes Jimmy Lake, in comes Kalen DeBoer. At Pac-12 Media Day on Friday, the new UW leading man was asked which team he feels this group he has now is closer to in terms of talent and potential—the 2020 squad or the 2021 group?

“I’m the third head coach since really 2019. It’s turned over,” he said. “You got some guys that have had multiple position coaches. If there’s anything that’s been hard, it’s just really understanding that these guys have been through a lot. What is really something that is comforting is, for example, the two guys I’m bringing with me today, Alex Cook and Jaxson Kirkland, guys on each side of the ball that were part of a 2018 conference championship, guys that are coming back for their sixth year, they know what it looks like.

“We have more players that are in that position, as well, that saw what it took. They know what this program stands for, what the expectations are. They know what it takes to get there.”

And that gives DeBoer confidence, because not only does he have that in the locker room, he has it in the staff.

“I have a number of staff members that have been with me, so that continuity makes the transition easy so you know what’s being said in the meeting rooms, how the summer workouts are going,” he said. “I know what’s being said pretty much daily because we’re on the same page and we’ve known each other for so many years.”

He feels like the installation of what UW wants to do, what it wants to be about, schematically and foundationally, has been smooth.

“(UW is) confident that when we step on the field next Thursday for our first practice, there’s going to be a depth of understanding of not just what that play is but the details how we’re going to run it and how we’re going to execute it,” he said.

And that should inspire some confidence. DeBoer has been a winner everywhere he’s gone.

He won three NAIA national championships in 2006, 2008, and 2009. In 2005, his first year at Sioux Falls, he won 11 games and went to the NAIA semifinals. Over the next four years, the only loss Sioux Falls suffered in 57 games was in the 2007 NAIA national championship, preventing a four-peat.

“I’ve been around,” he said when asked about the adjustment from where he’s been to where he is now. “I think what you always find is that there’s great talent at all levels.” At lower levels, maybe there positions where the depth or the quality isn’t there and you can consistently attack that; a basketball team hunting a pick-and-roll matchup. At this level, “everyone across the board at all positions is strong.”

But this is a strong scheme, too.

“I think they’ve been tried and true,” he said. “Been a number of different places, I’m not worried. I guess I’m not really worried about that at all. It’s not really something that crosses my mind. We’ve played on the West Coast the last four to five years, have a pretty good understanding of what that looks like, the diversity that comes with each program at different levels. Been out in the Midwest, played pretty much from coast-to-coast at the different levels.

“I’m excited to see what we are able to accomplish this fall. I’m very confident that we’ll continue to build a brand of Washington football—whether it be offense, defense or special teams—that will be fun to watch.”