A longtime University of Washington football watcher, after watching Kalen DeBoer’s coaching staff at another spring training session, remarked how refreshing it was for him to once again see a highly disciplined system running the Huskies.
Aside from Chris Petersen, he said most UW football coaches over the past two decades have gotten to come in and fuel it with their preparation, always trying to see things that work rather than relying on a proven fallback system .
Steve Sarkisian. Tyrone Willingham. Rick Neuheisel. Jimmy Lake.
While it’s unclear just how much Husky’s talent level has increased during the recent UW executive rotation, at least until a few games are played, first impressions are that the coaching staff is far more experienced and cohesive than the one it replaces Has.
Lake felt compelled to promote unapproved coaches and take risks with people he’d never met before, something that shouldn’t happen with much frequency at UW or any Power 5 school.
DeBoer invariably brought in experienced coaches who maintained a prior connection or personal relationship with each of his boys, sometimes stretching back decades.
We compare each new coach on Montlake’s payroll to the one that’s been replaced. We rank them based on either full-time experience or just how some of them ended up after leaving Seattle.
OK: Ryan Grubb vs. John Donovan
Grubb brings 16 seasons of college coaching experience to Seattle, including seven years as offensive coordinator at Fresno State and Sioux Falls. His Fresno team averaged 464.8 yards and 33.4 points per game last season. Donovan came to UW with 15 years of experience, including five years combined as the offensive coordinator for Vanderbilt and Penn State. He was fired by the Nittany Lions after two seasons. He was quit after just 13 games with the Huskies, with last year’s team averaging just 323.4 yards and 21.5 points per game. Donovan is now a senior analyst with the Green Bay Packers… on defense. Edge: Grubb
WR: JaMarcus Shephard vs. Junior Adams
Adams arrived at UW with 14 years of college coaching while Shephard had eight. Ironically, both receivers’ coaches spent time in western Kentucky. Both were offensive coordinators; Adams in western Kentucky, Shephard as co-OC in Purdue. Adams most recently coached Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp in Eastern Washington, while Shephard coached a 114 catch receiver at Rondale Moore in Purdue. After initially agreeing to join DeBoer’s staff, Adams relocated to Oregon to lead the Ducks receivers. Edge: Adams
OL: Scott Huff vs. Scott Huff
As a lone carryover coach, Huff is hoping to recapture previous UW levels of success. In his 17th year as a college coach, including 11 at Boise State, he is attempting to rebuild the Husky offensive line after it has struggled under his supervision for the past two seasons. During his time in Seattle, he sent linemen Kaleb McGary, Coleman Shelton, Nick Harris and Luke Wattenberg to the NFL. Unlike his former UW counterparts, Huff will be on a coaching hiatus next season. Edge: Huff
RB: Lee Marks vs. Keith Bhonapha
The Huskies hired two guys here who had each had five seasons as coaches of the Boise State running backs, with a year-long hiatus between their Idaho stints. Marks came to Seattle with a combined eight years of college coaching experience, including stints at Fresno State and South Dakota State. Bonapha joined UW and joined the Petersen staff in 2014 after just completing his stint at Boise, but he is now a 13-year coach after returning to Boise State. Edge: Bhonapha
TE: Nick Sheridan vs. Derham Cato
Sheridan came to UW with seven seasons of full-time collegiate coaching. He spent the last five years at Indiana, two of them as offensive coordinator, and was released in the latter role. He also coached single seasons as a QB coach in South Florida and western Kentucky. cato? He was promoted to Quality Coach from Lake and is now pursuing a career in sales. Edge: Sheridan
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DC/LB: William Inge vs. Bob Gregory
Inge comes to UW with 21 years of college and NFL coaching experience, including seven as a defensive coordinator. He spent seven seasons alone on the Indiana staff, with stints at Fresno State, Cincinnati, Colorado, San Diegp State, Buffalo and the Buffalo Bills. Gregory came to UW with 25 years of coaching experience, including 11 years as the defensive coordinator for California, Boise State and Willamette. Yet even with 33 years of full-time coaching on his résumé, Gregory chose a quality coaching job in Oregon that may be considered past his prime. Edge: Inge
DL: Inoke Breckterfield vs. Rip Rowan
Breckterfield, a decorated Oregon State defense attorney in his day, brings 13 seasons of experience as a six-school D-line coach to UW and joined DeBoer’s staff from an SEC post at Vanderbilt. In Pittsburgh, he helped build Aaron Donald into the dominant player he is in the NFL today, which is enough to earn him widespread respect in his profession. Rowan? He was promoted from quality coach to regular on the Lake team last season and has resurfaced at Georgia Southern as the D-Line coach. Usually coaches like him start at FCS school and go to UW, not the other way around. Edge: Breckterfield
ER: Eric Schmidt vs. Ikaika Malloe
Schmidt joined UW as an edge rusher coach, spending 16 seasons at Fresno State, Southern Illinois and North Dakota. He served as the defense coordinator for the latter school. Known as a former UW safety and linebacker, Malloe came to his alma mater when he was 15 years of college coaching and stayed for six seasons directing the D-Line and Edge Rushers. He was the Huskies’ co-defensive coordinator for two seasons. He is now the edge rusher coach at UCLA. Edge: Malloe
DB: Chuck Morrell vs. Will Harris
Morrell was Montana Tech’s head coach for nine seasons before joining DeBoer at Fresno State. He came to Seattle with 24 years of coaching experience to oversee Husky safety and serve as co-defensive coordinator. Harris, a nine-year coach, was the only Lake staffer to be promoted after his departure, becoming Georgia Southern’s defensive coordinator, though he was relegated a notch to FCS to get it. Edge: Morell
DB: Julius Brown vs. Terrance Brown
The man named Juice was hired by DeBoer to coach the cornerbacks after 10 seasons at Fresno State, Texas Tech, Utah State, Boise State, Arkansas State and Troy. The other Brown spent two seasons at UW, followed by two more at Vanderbilt after serving as a quality coach for the Huskies. He’s at Stanford now. Edge: sap brown
Kalen DeBoer vs. Jimmy Lake
DeBoer came to UW as an offense specialist with 22 years of coaching experience, including seven as a head coach at Fresno State and Sioux Falls. He won three national championships and amassed a 67-3 record at the NAIA school. Last November, Lake was fired from UW as a defensive-minded leader in the middle of his 22nd year in college and NFL coaching. He was only given 13 husky games to show what he could do as a man in charge. He had never been head coach before, until he replaced Petersen in Montlake in 2019. Lake, of course, remains unemployed. Edge: DeBoer
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