This was almost a carbon copy of the Utah game, which is very distressing. The offense just couldn’t get anything going in the first half yet again! Even worse, the running game averaged a paltry 3.4 yards per carry over 34 attempts (when Stanford, coming in, was giving up 200+ yards per game).
But, most alarming was the Husky defense, who generated ZERO stops in the first half, en route to giving up a 24-3 halftime lead. Down 21 points at half for the second week in a row, it was a valiant effort to make another heroic comeback, but unfortunately the defense just didn’t have it. We gave up one second-half TD drive early, then let Stanford run out the final 8 minutes of the football game because we were totally unable to get off the field on third down. Bingo, bango, bongo, that’s how you fuck up what should have been a sure thing.
Stanford had 191 rushing yards and a 4.8 yards-per-carry average, along with three rushing touchdowns. We should have expected this would be their strategy and it sucks that they were so successful (especially with Oregon on deck, who has been an elite rushing team year-in and year-out). But, what was worse was the fact that their quarterback had such great success against our secondary. 252 yards on 20/30 passing, averaging 8.4 yards per attempt! He was fitting balls into the slightest of windows, both in short yardage situations and deep downfield! We were somehow just a half-second late on making plays on these balls, and it was SUPER frustrating!
Dylan Morris was once again unflappable in the face of long odds. His day was made that much more difficult by a number of his top targets being out for this one, including Puka Nacua and Terrell Bynum. There weren’t any TD passes in this one, but no INTs either. Morris threw for 254 yards (11 yards per attempt) and led the Huskies on scoring drives every time we held the ball in the first half. If it weren’t for a tough holding penalty late, we would’ve gone 4/4 on touchdown drives in the second half. And MAYBE – if we’d nailed the 2-point conversion on that hypothetical fourth TD – we would’ve tied the game and forced Stanford into some different play-calling on their eventual clock-killing monster of a final drive. Tough to say. I wish I lived in that alternate universe to see how THAT game would’ve turned out.
Anyway, it’s reasonable to say the Huskies aren’t quite as dominant as I thought. One performance like that against the Utes is something you can wave off because we won. But, two games in a row? That’s cause for real concern. If we play like that against the Ducks, not only will we lose, but we might lose BIG!
I still believe the Huskies are good enough to beat the Ducks, but it’s going to take a full four-quarter effort to get the job done. That means we need the offense to get off to a better start, we need the defense to plug up the running game, and we need to harass the quarterback on third downs so they’re not fucking 10 for 13 on conversions like Stanford was (not to mention 2 for 2 on fourth down)!
The good news is: the Ducks aren’t nearly as good as we thought they’d be heading into the season. They lost for the second week in a row – this time at Cal, after losing at Oregon State previously – and were held to just 17 points. That, of course, makes our loss to Stanford all the more frustrating, because had we won, we would’ve guaranteed a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game (rendering this upcoming game meaningless).
Ultimately, it’s probably better this way. As a Husky, we don’t need ANY reason to get up for a game against the loathsome Ducks. But, with something truly important on the line, it would make a victory all the sweeter (of course, it would make a defeat all the more depressing, but that’s neither here nor there).
I don’t have a great feel for how this game is going to go. Gun to my head, I see us struggling to contain their run game. I see them in a lot of 2nd & Short and 3rd & Short situations; frankly, I see them popping for some big plays as well. With how bad our front seven has been at filling gaps and generating losses on running plays, I don’t know if we’re going to force Oregon to punt all that often. That means we need to generate turnovers, and it means we need to keep pace on offense as well. I don’t doubt we can get an interception or a fumble here and there, but in the end I don’t think it will be enough. I think we’re going to struggle on offense – with maybe some garbage time yards/points late. But, I’m seeing something in the realm of 33 to 24, Oregon over Washington.
I hope I’m wrong! I hope we’ve been able to tweak some things on defense to fix what’s been ailing us pretty much all season. I hope Oregon continues to scuffle on both sides of the ball and we go in there and roll all over them! I hope we head into the Pac-12 Championship Game with just the one loss and prove all the doubters wrong by killing whoever makes it out of the Pac-12 South. I’ll tell you this much: the winner of Washington at Oregon WILL be the Pac-12 Champion when the season ends, because these ARE the two best teams in the entire conference. Colorado and USC can go suck an egg!