The best thing I can say about this game? Losing to the number 1 team in the nation in their home stadium 53-16? The defense didn’t look overmatched.
Until it was.
That was a helluva first quarter, let me tell you. According to today’s announcers, that was the first time Oregon had been shut out for a quarter. ANY quarter. According to ABC’s graphics, today was the first time Oregon was forced to punt on their first drive. Too bad we couldn’t take advantage by actually putting points on the board ourselves.
I’m sure that kind of effort was a byproduct of Nobody Believing In Us. I’m sure the coaching staff played up that angle all week in practice. “Nobody’s giving us a chance. They’re the Number 1 team in America; we just got shut out at home 41-0. Nobody in the world believes that we can win this game. So, let’s go out there, without pressure, without expectation, and let’s shock the world!”
I love that. I think that’s great, and I’m glad the players responded for as long as they did. No, we weren’t able to cover the 35.5 point spread, but for a long time we battled! In the end, they were too much for us and that shouldn’t surprise anyone.
What surprised me, however, is the lack of urgency. Particularly on offense.
If, we all agree, this is a game nobody expected the Huskies to win, then surely no one is going to have a problem if the Huskies lose. “Shit, they don’t have Locker, they don’t have much talent on defense, their offensive line is butter, if they lose – WHEN they lose – it won’t be a big deal.”
With that monkey clear off their backs, you’d think THIS is the time to be bold. THIS is the time to take some risks you wouldn’t otherwise take. You go for it on 4th and short in your own territory; you don’t punt the ball right back to the best offense in football after a 3 and out! You go for it on 4th down INSTEAD of kicking the third field goal of the ballgame to bring it to within 9 points. Field goals are not going to help you whatsoever in your pursuit to shock the world! Punting TEN TIMES will not do you one bit of good!
You go for it as often as you can. You bust out the trickiest of trick plays. You pull out every crazy stop you can possibly think of. And if they all backfire, every single time, SO WHAT? You’re the University of Washington Huskies and they’re the number 1 team in football. Doing things conservatively and “by the book” meant you still lost by 37 fucking points.
And why did they lose by 37, when they brought it to within 9 late in the 3rd quarter? Well, they finally broke down. Oregon’s offense broke through for 35 points in the 2nd half. What was 18-6 and highly encouraging at the end of the 1st half turned into a disgusting route.
Had we taken some shots in that 1st half – when things were still sloppy on the Oregon side of the football – maybe we wouldn’t have been at such a disadvantage going into a 2nd half where everyone with a pulse knew they were going to turn it on. Maybe, if we’d taken some chances in the 1st half, we could’ve had a lead, and forced THEM to take some chances in the 2nd half. Maybe those chances would’ve backfired on THEM. MAYBE we could’ve kept it close at the end of the game and MAYBE we could have, indeed, shocked the world.
But, going vanilla, going mano-a-mano against a team with more speed, more talent, and more depth than you was NEVER going to work. At best, with that game plan, the Huskies were hoping to just keep it reasonable. Maybe lose by less than 20 at best. In the end, even THAT was doomed because of the reasons I outlined above.
Nevertheless, they fought hard. They didn’t lose by 70 (and believe me, even a 70 point loss wouldn’t have been outside the realm of possibility). Keith Price played his guts out, the running game showed up as usual, and there was even some solid tackling by our defense. I’ll never complain about the team’s effort or heart; of THAT, we as Husky fans can all be proud.
Of the special teams coverage … ehh, maybe not so much.