Kalen DeBoer and Washington proved immediately to be a perfect match.

The Huskies roared to 11 wins in DeBoer’s debut season, beating Oregon, winning the Apple Cup, and knocking off Texas in a Texas-based bowl game. And once the offseason started, the wins kept coming.

Everyone is back, including offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, who turned down overtures from big-name SEC programs to remain in the Pacific Northwest.

UW has title aspirations in 2023, and not just in the Pac-12.

That next step is a big one. It can take a lot. With UW opening up spring ball, DeBoer touched on the team’s mindset heading into the new year when he met with reporters last week.

“The things that were hard before are now, I don’t want to say easy, but we’ve kind of re-defined what hard is,” DeBoer said. “It’s really cool seeing guys raise the bar on what the definition of hard is in our program.”

Those elevated standards have to be there. There’s elevated interest in the program.

“It’s fun to have the attention, but along with that comes not just the talk but the walk,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got to realize that everyone’s breaking down our film a little bit more. They were kind of probably waiting to see who we were (last season), especially if we were in Week 4 or 5 or a further game in the schedule. Now they’re actually looking at some things and actually figuring out, ‘OK, what are we going to do when these guys come?’ They might even be devoting a day… I don’t want to get a big head about it, but they may even be devoting a day during spring ball or fall camp to some of the things that we’re doing.

“I know that a lot of that’s happening just because I get a lot of questions, a lot of phone calls, a lot of text messages on certain stuff we’re doing. For our guys, it’s still about us. It’s still about just being focused, and remembering how we got there.”

When you have a turnaround the likes of which UW enjoyed last year, coaches sometimes have to fight that stagnation, that feeling of arrival. If there’s any dip in intensity, you’ll get found out pretty quick once the year starts.

DeBoer likes where his team is at from that standpoint.

“Last year, with everything we did, there was urgency. There was an intensity about it. The thing I’m just so proud of our guys is I think that urgency and intensity is even higher,” he said. “I really do. They’re not taking anything for granted. They’re enjoying the moment. They enjoy the work. They realize that the work is what got them there last year and they’re not shy. They’re not afraid to do it. The more guys that we can keep bringing into the program that love to work, that love to be a part of it, are humble, hungry, that’s only going to make it that much easier in the day-to-day, as far as what it looks like.”