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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 19, 2007 at 1:42 PM

The pick. …

Those of you writing that you expect my pick of the game to be humbling for Husky fans may be partially right —- yes, I am picking Oregon to win tomorrow.
But I am expecting a closer game than some might think for a variety of factors:
— Oregon’s health. Four key offensive players are out including three of Oregon’s top six receivers — Brian Paysinger, Cameron Colvin and now Derrick Jones due to suspension. I know this didn’t do the Huskies much good against UCLA and Arizona State, which were each missing key cogs for most or all of those games. And I know this also means that Oregon is likely to just put it on the ground more, which makes sense anyway given UW’s inabillity to stop the run. Still, it seems as if this might throw Oregon’s offense out of whack just enough to slow it down a little more than usual.
— The crowd. Oregon has obviously shown it can handle the road, winning huge at Michigan. But the road is always a factor, and I think the Husky Stadium crowd will be especially into this game, which should help the home team’s cause just a bit.
— UW’s desperation. As the comments of the likes of Juan Garcia and Greyson Gunheim made clear this week, this is a team that desperately needs a win. Of course, it did last week, as well, and that didn’t turn out so hot. But again, I think the home crowd will aid in that in giving the Huskies some needed momentum early (of course, the home crowd could turn ugly if the Ducks get up early). I wrote last week how big I thought the ASU game was to this team’s mental state and hopes of having a good season. tomorrow may be UW’s last stand. A big loss and it might be too much to recover from.
That said, I think the Ducks are still simply better, and the better team usually wins.
As I noted above, they may now just hand the ball off to Jonathan Stewart 30 times and let him bang away behind what is a most underrated offensive line. There are rumblings that Stewart is a little more banged up than has been let on, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t out there ready to go for what is his only game at Husky Stadium.
And while some of the top receivers are out, they still have Dennis Dixon, who is having the best year of any Pac-10 QB so far. They also still have three of their top receivers, including leading receiver Jaison Williams who will be a tough matchup for a UW secondary still in flux due to the injury of Jason Wells.
Defensively, Oregon has given up some yards at times. But a number have come in the second half of some blowouts. When needed — the first half against Michigan, the second half against Stanford — the Duck defense has usually responded. The Ducks also held Cal to 115 rushing yards, more than 80 below Cal’s season average.
I would think the Huskies will really try to get the running game going tomorrow, however, building on the success of the first half of last week, so that may be the key to the whole game. If UW can have some success running and keep Oregon’s offense off the field as much as possible, it can keep things close. I think the Huskies will be able to do just that for a while.
Once again, when I did my position analysis, I gave all but one to the Ducks.
QB — Dixon over Locker is obvious right now.
RB — Stewart alone is enough for an Oregon edge here.
WR — Oregon is without three of its top guns, but I still think Oregon’s overall corps is slightly better due largely to the presence of Williams. The Ducks are also getting a lot of use out of TE Ed Dickson, whose 17 catches are eight more than UW’s three TEs have combined.
OL — Oregon has an experienced and tested unit here led by center Max Unger. UW also has the uncertainty today of Chad Macklin’s situation. Word is that Macklin is likely to be there and could play but it’ll be a game-time decision.
DL — Thought about giving this one to UW especially after the improved play of last week. But Oregon DE Nick Reed is coming off a game in which he was the national Defensive Player of the Week and this is overall a bigger unit than UW’s.
LB — This is the one edge I gave to UW as the Ducks are young here anyway and are now with WLB A.J. Tuitele, who broke his foot against Cal.
DB — A lot of experience here for Oregon and the Ducks rank third in the Pac-10 in pass defense effeciency.
ST — Stewart leads the conference in kick return average and the kickers all have better numbers than UW’s.
Add it up and I see the Huskies keeping it close for a while but the Ducks pulling away late to win 34-21.

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