Michael Penix Jr. on what Washington learned after UCLA loss: 'This team has fight'
It was smooth sailing for Washington through the first four weeks. Prolific offense lighting up the scoreboard, aggressive defense getting after the quarterback, winning comfortably against the gimmes, breaking Michigan State (has Mel Tucker tried unplugging and restarting?), and closing out gamedays with that home cooking for four straight weeks.
To say Washington cruised to a 4-0 record might imply it didn’t earn the wins — which would be a mischaracterization of things. But, UW certainly hadn’t faced the kind of adversity that was awaiting them in Pasadena last Friday.
And in the first loss of the season — a 40-32 defeat at the hands of UCLA — quarterback Michael Penix Jr. said the group learned how much fight is really on the home sideline of Husky Stadium.
“This team has fight,” he told reporters this week, per Dawgman.com. “We’re going to have adversity always, it’s always there. It just showed that we know how to handle it. We know how to bounce back, not just dwell on what happened before, and having that 1-0 mindset and just continue to show the continuous fight throughout the end.”
When coach Kalen DeBoer met with the media earlier this week, that was where he found solace.
“They’re all growth moments, wins or losses,” he said. “(UCLA was) definitely a growth moment. I don’t want to say I didn’t have an idea. I felt I knew what our response would be, whether it be at halftime or what it would be coming back (on Sunday). The character of our team will be revealed.
“I think a lot has already been shown to me of what that character is all about. I was proud of the guys, the way they fought to the very end, the belief. I felt there was ownership after the game, but also during the game. … When the right attitude and effort continues to come forward we can be better because of it. That’s a lot of the message we had (on Sunday).”
Penix tossed two interceptions. The defense missed tackles at an alarming rate. But once UW fell down, it picked itself off the mat a bit. Washington outscored UCLA 22-7 over the final 21 minutes of the game. It was one defensive stop away from having a chance to tie at the end.
The Huskies go back on the road this week — to face a 1-4 Arizona State team (1 p.m. PT; Pac-12 Network) — where they’ll have a chance to show that character DeBoer is talking about.
“It’s still a football game,” said Penix. “We’re still playing between the lines so as long as we can control what we can control and have great communication — we always talk about having elite communication on the offensive side of the ball. As long as we do that we will be able to go out there and do anything.”