Michael Penix Jr., QB
The key cog that makes this Washington machine go on offense is the redshirt senior star quarterback and 2023 Heisman runner-up Michael Penix Jr. Penix improved on an already terrific output for Washington in his second year as the starting quarterback. He led the nation with over 4,200 passing yards and won the Maxwell Award.
Penix led the nation's top passing attack (344 pass yards per game) and made the most of the abundance of skill weapons surrounding him in this offense. Standout receivers Rome Odunze and Ja'Lynn Polk were both 1,000-yard receivers this season.
DeBoer's spread offense has proven to be the perfect system for Penix to blossom as an NFL Draft prospect at the quarterback position. He's got the timing and accuracy to make all the throws to every level of the field. Penix also has the experience and composure in the pocket to slice and dice opposing defenses that don't generate effective pressure on the quarterback.
Penix is precise and knows the right amount of air to put on his deep ball. He led all Power Five quarterbacks in deep passing yards (over 1,500) and deep ball completions (44) this season.
Defending the deep ball has been a weakness at times this season for the Texas secondary (especially the safeties). Texas must be ready to defend the deep ball or this will be a long day for the Longhorns on defense.
But the deep ball is not the only way DeBoer likes to spread you out and gash you through the air. Washington has three or four talented receivers who are precise technically and can threaten you in space in the short and intermediate passing game.
Penix does a nice job of having the right timing and velocity on his throws to the intermediate part of the field. He ranks in the top five among Power Five quarterbacks in completion percentage and pass yards on intermediate attempts this season.
Washington's ability to spread you out in the intermediate and deep passing game then opens up the ground game for senior running back and Mississippi State transfer Dillon Johnson. The 1,000-yard rusher Johnson is a tough downhill runner who can make you pay with chunk gains if you lighten up the box too much to try and contain Washington's spread passing attack.
On paper, this looks like a really tough matchup for the Texas secondary to face the high-powered Washington spread offense. Texas has struggled when they were spread out against some of the better passing attacks in the Big 12 this season (i.e., Houston, Kansas State, and TCU).
The Longhorns allowed the fifth most passing yards per game and fourth highest completion percentage against the spread pass this season in the Big 12.