It’s become abundantly clear very early on in the Kalen DeBoer era that the Washington locker room is fully bought into their new head coach and what he’s preaching.

DeBoer has frequently talked about family. He’s made an effort to connect to the UW past. He’s opened up the program to the community. And all the efforts of the staff paid off on Saturday when Washington (1-0) opened its season with a 45-20 win over Kent State.

After the game, Alex Cook, a super-senior safety and a team captain, presented the game ball not to a player but to DeBoer.

“We’ve been grinding since winter,” Cook said. “Everything has been crisp, it’s been tight, he’s been on (it). Our operation has been second-to-none. We couldn’t have gotten that win without Coach DeBoer. I’m getting emotional as hell because I’ve been here six years, and man that’s just special. Appreciate you, Coach.”

Cook has seen three different UW head coaches. He’s been on teams that went to Fiesta and Rose Bowls. He saw the 2018 Huskies win the Pac-12.

DeBoer said this offseason how valuable Cook’s presence has been on this team. He, along with other super-seniors like Jaxson Kirkland are guys who “know what this program stands for, what the expectations are,” DeBoer said. “They know what it takes to get (to a championship).”

Washington is hoping DeBoer can be the coach that returns it to that level. He’s off to a good start. Washington looked wonderful in its debut, blasting Kent State with the best offensive performance in 10 games.

The Huskies hit the field again this Saturday when they host Portland State at 1 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Network.