The Seahawks losing at home to the Panthers was a surprising kick to the crotch I don’t think anyone around here was expecting. It proved to be a fitting capper to an overall demoralizing couple of days, starting with the Huskies losing yet again to the Oregon Ducks.
I can’t even begin to tell you how awful that game was on Saturday night. It was a bad sign that the Ducks were able to move the ball at will on their opening drive to take a quick 6-0 lead; if we were ever going to win that game, we needed our defense to be on point. They would stiffen up – only giving up 20 more points the rest of the way – but the game never really felt like it was in doubt. Oregon was always able to do JUST enough. When it wasn’t Vernon Adams doing his best Russell Wilson impression, it was Royce Freeman averaging 5.1 yards per carry for 138 yards total. And, when that wasn’t happening, it felt like (from the stands, anyway, in the east endzone) they got the majority of the breaks with respect to penalties and whatnot (whether that’s true or not remains to be seen; still, that targeting rule is bullshit and needs to go).
The thing that fucking sucks the most is that while the Ducks are still a pretty good football team, they’re FAR from what they’ve been in recent years. They certainly aren’t in the conversation for best team in the Pac-12. If you had to compare the two, I don’t think there’s any question – from top to bottom – the Ducks have the better program than the Dawgs this year, but that’s beside the point. The Huskies COULD have won this game. With the way the offense is playing, I wouldn’t say the 2015 Huskies win this matchup very often (maybe 33 times out of 100), so a Husky victory really required a clean game from all aspects. But, this year had REAL potential to be the year that ended the streak. Certainly a better Husky team (like any of the first four Sarkisian teams) would’ve had a field day with these Ducks.
But, we’re in rebuilding mode. And, as such, we blew the best opportunity we’ve had in over a decade to get this fucking thing done.
It sucks because as a Husky fan, you just want the fucking streak to be over. Now, it’s hanging over our heads for another year. While it’s reasonable to have hope that the Huskies will be better in 2016, there’s no certainty that it’ll come true. With that argument, you could say it’s reasonable that the Ducks will be better in 2016 as well; and next year’s game will be in fucking Eugene again! Even if we can assume these will be two evenly-matched teams a year from today (which I’m no where near ready to assume, FWIW), we’ve still got to go on the road and beat them in a venue where they rarely ever lose. Meaning: it’s very likely this fucking streak is going to hang over our heads for TWO more years at a minimum. Great.
It doubly sucks because you have to wonder if this game was coached better – particularly on the offensive side of the ball – maybe we pull it out. Myles Gaskin ripped off 155 yards on 18 carries. Even if you take out the 72-yard touchdown scamper to pull the score to within 10 points at the end of the third quarter, we’re still talking about a 4.88 yard per carry average for our budding superstar. At which point you have to wonder: why only the 18 carries?
We’re dealing with a double-edged sword here. On the one hand, we’ve got a true freshman quarterback we’re trying to mold into a bigtime college quarterback. So, if you’re committed to trying to make it work for Jake Browning long term, then you have to let him go out there and make plays. Otherwise, if he’s just handing the ball off 40 times a game, you’re not really giving him the experience he needs to improve down the road. But, at the same time, no one wants to just throw away an entire season in the name of not stunting a freshman quarterback’s growth.
Well, in THIS game, for instance, the Huskies would’ve been better served pounding the rock with Gaskin a little more and having Browning throw the ball a little less. It makes no sense having us throw three straight times and then punting when you JUST saw us run the ball previously to move down field effectively. Case in point, the second Husky drive of the game: ball at the 5 yard line, Gaskin runs for 34 yards to immediately get us out of trouble. Then, pass for 7 yards, pass for no gain, and a sack. What a fucking WASTE! People tell me momentum isn’t really a thing, but on a day where we’d run so well, why would we EVER want to throw the ball three straight times?
I mean, this offense can be moronic at times. On the first drive of the second half, we threw the ball four straight times to get down to the Oregon 11 yard line. Then, we ran it on first down, lost a yard, and boom, two straight passes (and two straight sacks) followed. Why not at least TRY a run on second down? You lose one yard and you go back to abandoning the run again? This is football! COLLEGE football, no less! You’re supposed to be able to run the ball when you’re inside the opponent’s 15 yard line!
Then, the Huskies get that breathtaking 72-yard touchdown run out of Gaskin to pull to within 10 points. We follow that up with forcing a 3 & Out, and now “momentum” is REALLY on our side. We’ve got them on the ropes, so to speak. With 14 minutes and change left in the game, we’ve been able to gash them a lot on the ground. So, what do we do on our very next offensive possession? Pass for 7 yards, incomplete, incomplete, punt. WHAT. THE. FUCK??? Three straight passes after we just ran the ball 72 yards on them in a single play? Who in God’s name is in charge here, because I want to file a complaint! Run the fucking ball, Huskies! SEND.
After that, it was only all too easy for the Ducks to run off 4 minutes of clock before they put up a field goal to make it a 13-point game. We were able to finally produce a balanced touchdown drive to make it a 6-point game (30 yards rushing, 19 yards passing, 22 defensive penalty yards), but I gotta think the Ducks were in a clock-killing defense, and that drive certainly killed a lot of clock (little over five minutes, leaving us 3:35 and 1 time out, to get the ball back). By the time we got the ball back, there was 1:11 left in the game (thanks to the Ducks foolishly throwing the ball incomplete on third down), but we needed to go 80 yards, with our backup quarterback in there (because Browning had injured his shoulder on the previous drive), and it just wasn’t going to happen.
A little more running the ball, and a better form of passing game, might have done the trick in this one. I won’t belabor the fact that I hate the bubble screen with every fiber of my being, but it’s just got to go (or, at least, be devalued in favor of more down-field throwing – at least until defenses stop expecting it on every fucking play). And what the fuck was with that time out called early in the second half, when we were just going to punt the ball anyway? Take the God damned delay of game penalty! ALWAYS take the God damned delay of game penalty when you’re expecting a close finish against a tough team and you’re just going to punt regardless! Had the Ducks not been morons, they could have run the ball down to about 45 seconds or so before punting. An extra time out could’ve meant the difference between pushing the ball downfield for a realistic shot at the endzone, vs. K.J. Carta-Samuels throwing something of a desperation heave down to the Ducks’ 35 yard line that was easily picked off.
After a weekend like that, getting the Seahawks’ Thursday Night game this week couldn’t have come at a worse time. I’d almost rather do anything else with my evening tomorrow than watch another team I root for try to play football. It’s too damn soon. The taste of warm, gooey dogshit is still coating the inside of my mouth. Beyond that, in three days I get to fly down to the Bay Area to watch the Huskies get stomped to death by Stanford in person. If it weren’t for the late start time, and a day full of tailgating/drinking, I don’t know how I’d survive.