The last time the Huskies beat the Oregon Ducks was 2003 under Keith Gilbertson in what might have been Gibby’s finest win as the Husky head coach. Of course that was before Chip Kelly arrived on the scene, but regardless, the Ducks have since run off eight straight. During that span the Ducks have averaged 42 points while the Dogs have averaged 17. Wow! It hasn’t even been close. But that was then and this is now. I think the Huskies can win this game but they will have to play their best game in order to do so. Both WSU and Arizona showed them things that had the Ducks had trouble with and the number one thing is to move the chains on offense and keep Oregon’s offense on the sideline. That means getting stops on defense be it punts, turnovers, or field goals and ball controlling on offense. I promise you Sark’s kids will be traveling into Eugene with full intentions of winning this game.
No question, Oregon is the premier football program in the west right now and they have sustained their success by winning the Rose Bowl last year and playing for the national championship the year before that. They have done it with flair and fashion and an association with the Nike Company that no other school enjoys. They have a personal benefactor in Nike president, Phil Knight, who has allowed and certainly enabled Coach Chip Kelly to recruit with the marketing skill and assistance from one of America’s leading athletic sportswear companies.
The Ducks are simply hot on the college sports scene right now and certainly Kelly has done magic with his up-tempo, peddle to the meddle offense. Oh, they are really solid on defense, but it is on offense where their speed is simply scary and they spread you out so you have to tackle that speed in open spaces. This is precisely where Washington can win this game. They simply can’t miss tackles and will help themselves tremendously to always know where De-Anthony Thomas, #6, is and always be stalking and gang tackling and wrapping him up. Hold him in check and win the game. The inability of Washington, or anyone for that matter, to figure out how to stop this attack is the dilemma.
After watching four of their games, most teams, including the Ducks themselves, employ an odd or 3 man front who always line up ready to go. Because of the up tempo, all the kids on defense must know the calls and immediately look to the bench for signals. It is an option offense run out of shotgun formation and they throw quickly or off of play action so it’s hard to pressure the quarterback. They spread you from sideline to sideline by aligning 2 wide receivers one way and one the other forcing you to cover them man to man which is another key for the Huskies.
To beat Oregon, the Huskies will need to flat out win the kicking game, control the ball with their offense and get as many stops as possible on defense. They would do well to win the turnover battle and keep their penalties to a minimum. The bottom line is Oregon hasn’t really played anyone with the exception of Arizona and WSU and neither of those teams appear to be in the elite of the conference, because the Arkansas State, Tennessee Tech, and Fresno State games were all played in Eugene and all three games were over by half time. Arizona squandered 4 scoring opportunities in the red-zone and WSU should have been leading at half. Oregon has been far from stellar in the kicking game averaging only 37.5 punting and have only made 3 of 5 field goals and also had one blocked. They have also fumbled the ball 14 times losing 6 and have thrown 6 interceptions. Should Washington win both the kicking game and the turnover ratio they could really help themselves to win this game.
As a team, the Huskies can’t afford to lose contact with the Ducks by allowing them to put together back to back scores. The Huskies need to get the lead and always answer every time Oregon scores. The Ducks have been really tough at home so Washington would also do well to take the crowd out early by taking the lead.
Holding Thomas in check will also be big in determining if Washington can win the biggest game of the Sarkisian era. There is no doubt this is a tall task but Washington can win this game if they can keep the Ducks from scoring in bunches. The Ducks show you when they are blitzing on defense and are predictable with what they do out of their various personnel grouping on offense. It will take the best game of the season out of Keith Price and the Husky offense and another effort like their last one against Stanford on defense, but this Duck team is beatable if the Dawgs can avoid mistakes.