“Don’t shoot yourself in the foot” certainly has more meaning for the Washington Huskies as they simply self- destructed in their quest to end a nine game losing streak to their feathered neighbors to the south, the Oregon Ducks. Prior to the game, Softy ask me what I thought were the keys to the game in order for the Huskies to win. My reply was that in order to beat a really good team like Oregon you have to play a “clean game”. That means not doing things that will hurt yourself like no fumbles, no interceptions, no missed tackles, no drops, and no stupid penalties. Those are a recipe for disaster especially when you are on the road and unfortunately they all happened and collectively eliminated any chance of the Huskies winning the game. I watched in horror as everything I said not to do, they did. Come on, it’s as though I condemned them to happen.
Washington threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball five times, losing three of them, including a dropped punt by a freshman, a fumble by another freshman after he had successfully ran a fake punt on fourth down, and a fumble by their quarterback after, he too, had successfully converted a first down. In all three cases the errant offender was simply trying too hard to make something happen and in doing so got careless by not securing the football in the process. All three fumbles resulted in Oregon scores and occurred because the players were trying to force the issue rather than letting the game come to them and in doing so exposed the football and eventually lost it. All three resulted in Oregon scores as did a careless interception which the intercepting Duck took to the house for touchdown and essentially signaled “game over” even though it was still the first quarter of the game.
Down 21-0, the Huskies had dug themselves a hole they simply couldn’t climb out of because while sitting in their duck-blind they had accidently shot themselves in the foot. Then to compound matters worse, they proceeded to commit 9 penalties for 102 yards and at least three were stupid 15 yard personal fouls that kept drives alive and further helped the Ducks to fly away. The Huskies had a 3rd and 1, jump offsides, and it becomes a third and 6. Come on guys. Along the way they also dropped at least 4 passes that hit them in a bad place, the hands. Each drop helped kill a drive and another chance to try and score and stay in the hunt regardless of their foot injury. Then on defense they repeatedly missed open field tackles that often resulted in Duck touchdowns and also lost contain on the Duck quarterback allowing him to scramble out of the pocket and find open receivers on at least 5 occasions. Those are fundamental breakdowns. That’s not even mentioning two critical coverage mistakes that left Duck receivers wide open. Wow, give yourself a chance Dawgs. You’re never going to beat a quality opponent on the road if you serve them the game on a platter.
Who knows what would have happened if Washington could have kept the game close. Everything changes when your own mistakes result directly in scores by your opponent. The Ducks are good enough to beat you on their own, they didn’t need the Huskies’ help.
So it is time to regroup, accept the past for what it is and move on because the USC Trojans are coming to town and they have just as much talent as do the Oregon Ducks. In fact, the two Trojan receivers, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, are probably the best one-two combo of any receivers there are in the nation. Then there is the Trojan quarterback, Matt Barkley, who is probably the best passer they will face this season and a certain NFL draft choice. Then just for kicks the Trojans raided Penn State for their best running back in Silas Redd. He was a work horse in their last game against Utah and the Huskies will have to stop the run first and foremost and then run the ball themselves in order to win. Regardless, if Washington is to upset the Trojans, who are a 2 touchdown favorite, they had best “clean up their act”.
Teams like Oregon and USC don’t need any help when they are obviously better on paper. Washington will have to play their best game of the season (including the Stanford victory) in order to beat the Men of Troy. Against the Ducks the Huskies did do some positive things including winning the kicking game, in spite of dropping two punts, and having a back, Bishop Sankey, run for 104 yards, and only giving up 1 sack by a young and inexperienced offensive line. Granted, that was probably because the Husky QB, Keith Price, was throwing quickly but considering they had given up 10 sacks going into the game, that was an area of improvement. Defensively, the Huskies were led by a group of three freshmen linebackers in Travis Feeney, Shaq Thompson, and Cory Littleton, who accounted for 26 tackles between the three of them. That is promising for the future but the NOW is what is most important and for right now the Huskies would do well to concentrate on not hurting themselves by eliminating their obvious mistakes
Bottom line on offense is the Huskies need to have a banner game out of their quarterback, Keith Price, if they are going to have any chance of beating USC. To this point Price has been hot and cold on the season but losing is never one man’s fault in football nor is it one side of the ball. When you lose, it’s everyone’s fault; the coaches, the players, the offense, the defense, and the kicking game. You can’t dwell on the past especially when an opponent like USC is coming to town. They might have to close down the board and play a little closer to the vest, but each possession is critical and mistakes are often the determiner of momentum and the Huskies learned that tough lesson last Saturday when they shot themselves in the foot while the ducks flew away for yet another year.
On offense it’s all about moving the chains and always gaining field position or scoring someway on each possession. On defense it’s simply about getting stops and getting the ball back for the offense and in the kicking game it’s all about being solid. No shanks, no bad snaps, no dropped kicks, and no stupid penalties. The Huskies can win this game but only if they can clean up their act.