The Kalen DeBoer era at Washington got off to a wonderful start Saturday night against Kent State.

Washington was smiling at the end of the day — something you couldn’t say much last season. DeBoer injected some energy and some excitement not only into the fanbase, but into the offense. The group last season failed to top 35 points in each of Washington’s final nine games a season ago.

On Saturday night, UW dropped a 40-piece.

Quarterback Michael Penix was excellent in his Washington debut. The defense made some splash plays. The skill talent showed its depth.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

Welcome back, offense

Before the backups came in, Penix led eight possessions and six touchdowns.

We knew with Kalen DeBoer coming to Montlake the Husky offense would be getting a breath of fresh air, but it was wonderful on Saturday to see a fully revitalized UW offensive attack. There was creativity. There was DeBoer flair. Offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb called a strong game. And, maybe most importantly, there was a plan.

UW led 38-20 early in the fourth quarter. Instead of running some clock, DeBoer left Penix on the field, left the playbook open, and went for it. Penix went deep to wideout Jalen McMillan on the first play of the possession for 44 yards. Three plays later he found McMillan again for a 10-yard score.

It was Penix’s fourth passing touchdown of the game. The former Indiana quarterback was brilliant in his first game in a Washington uniform. Dare I say he looked like the Penix that DeBoer knew when he was at IU in 2019? DeBoer said as much when he named Penix the starter in fall camp, but the rest of the world got to see the same on the field.

Penix finished 26-for-39 for 345 yards and four scores. No interceptions. No fumbles.

As a team, the Washington offense averaged 7.2 yards a play.

Defense did what it needed

When the offense is rolling the way the UW offense was rolling, the margin for error gets a little wider. Washington didn’t need to shut down Kent State. Don’t get gashed. Stay healthy. Make some plays.

Washington had five tackles for loss, four pass breakups, and three interceptions. Safety Asa Turner picked off Kent State on the first play of the game — his first of two on the day. The Huskies were a middle-of-the-pack team int he Pac-12 last season both in terms of creating plays behind the line of scrimmage and forcing turnovers. A splashier group with this offense will do nicely.

UW’s wideout depth is legit

Ten players caught a pass for Washington. Eight of those 10 caught multiple.

Rome Odunze led the way with seven catches for 84 yards and a score. McMillan had five for 87 yards and two scores. Taj Davis had three catches for 72 yards and a score. Ja’Lynn Polk added 45. Will Nixon, Giles Jackson, and Cameron Davis all had multiple catches for more than 20 yards apiece.

Penix spread the ball around. Grubb and DeBoer got guys involved and kept everyone fresh. UW looks like it has several different weapons that can hurt teams in a variety of ways.