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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 3, 2006 at 11:09 AM

The pick – Ducks

Another status quo pick there, know, but you break down this game and it definitely feels like one of those where if the two teams played 10 times, Oregon would win eight or nine, especially considering the venue.
The Huskies and their fans obviously hope tomorrow will be one of those one or two other times.
I think these will be a few key players to watch for the Huskies tomorrow:
— Johnie Kirton. He got one short-yardage run last week and would have gotten more if he hadn’t fallen ill. Sounds like he’s in the plans to be used in that role even more this week, and UW’s best chance to win this game, I think, is by running the ball well. Oregon has a beat-up defensive line and ranks just ninth in the conference against the run. Considering the probable inclement weather, running the ball will be the way to go.
— Marcel Reece. UW coaches said this week they would try Reece at an outside receiver position rather than just the slot. We’ll see if that experiment proves fruitful Saturday.
— Mesphin Forrester. He’s the likely new starter at free safety with Jason Wells out. Oregon likes to use a lot of play-action and other deception and Forrester will have to be especially disciplined.
— Carl Bonnell. QB is always a given to be important. Bonnell also has the pressure to stay upright. Given how UW’s offensive line is having trouble protecting the passer, the Huskies need to keep their mobile QB in the game. But that’s also where running the ball well could play a key role. If Bonnell can do a lot of handing off, he’ll take that many fewer hits.
— Brandon Ala/Greyson Gunheim. Oregon has given up only five sacks all season, in part because of the mobility of Dennis Dixon, but also because of the strength of its offensive line. And Oregon is likely getting two injured starters back this week, putting its OL back to full strength. Still, UW has to find a way to get a pass rush and not let Dixon (or Brady Leaf) sit back there all day.
— Michael Braunstein. UW can’t waste any chances to score points. Remember last year’s game when UW had two great opportunities to score early but got points on only one of those drives, taking a 7-0 lead when it could easily have been 14-0. UW needs to score TDs instead of field goals, but if it’s forced to make field goals, Braunstein has to come through.
(Speaking of Braunstein, I wrote a story about him this weekthat probably wasn’t the most popular I ever wrote. In it, I quoted UW special teams coach Bob Simmons as calling Braunstein “arrogant.” I should have included some of the rest of what Simmons said, specifically, that most good kickers have a touch of arrogance to them and that Braunstein is simply no different.).
Still, I just think Oregon has too much talent. The Huskies have been a very resilient team this season, yet it’s easy to doubt whether UW can keep it going after having so many heartbreaking losses the last few weeks.
I do think the Huskies will come out ready to go and play hard. But the Huskies are also simply starting to run out of bodies at key positions, and I think the physical and mental beating the team has taken the last few weeks will eventually prove too much to overcome.
In the end, Oregon 31, UW 16.

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