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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 6, 2011 at 1:44 AM

Oregon analysis and highlights

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First, thanks to Kyle McCormick for his weekly highlights above.

As for the game? Well, not the way they wanted to send the stadium out.

You knew going in that Oregon’s speed would be an issue.

What was more surprising was the way Oregon dominated up front, especially on defense. As UW coach Steve Sarkisian said later, he didn’t see that coming.

Oregon held the Huskies to a season-low 82 yards rushing, and what few yards rushing Washington seemed to be either Chris Polk second-effort or a few misdirection plays that fooled the Ducks (such as the Bishop Sankey run). Otherwise, UW went nowhere most of the night, getting just 2.3 yards per carry overal. that includes 27 yards lost in six Keith Price sacks — the best evidence of how the Ducks had their way up front. Take out the Price sacks and UW had 105 yards on 27 carries — not bad but not what was needed.

And Price, obviously, had little time.

Defensively, the Huskies played about as well as would probably have been reasonably expected. Still, when Oregon really had to move the ball it did. UW never got closer than a touchdown after that first drive, and as Oregon coach Chip Kelly said, the two third-quarter drives were huge in re-establishing command for the Ducks, which Oregon never surrendered. Frankly, it felt pretty perfunctory for Oregon in the second half, the lead never really seeming threatended.

And in another got-to-face-it reality for UW, this is now three losses by substantial margins — both on the scoreboard and in the yardage totals — against the only three ranked teams UW has played this season. UW has been outrushed 967-400 in the games against Nebraska, Stanford and Oregon — that as well as anything else evidences where UW has to improve to take that next step to true contention status.

Some brief thoughts on each position:

QUARTERBACK: Not Price’s best night with the two early interceptions, which unlike the three of last week were pretty much his alone. While there were some varying reasons for the picks last week, the reality is Price has now thrown seven interceptions in the last three games and 10 for the season. And he wasn’t able to get the ball downfield tonight. Obviously, the pressure was largely to blame. But the big plays were mostly non-existant tonight.

RUNNING BACKS: Anyone who looks at Chris Polk’s stat line and concludes he was the problem in any way watched a different game than I did. Polk ran hard (80 yards on 24 carries) and caught the ball well (six for 31) and did what he could with limited help. Despite the six catches, however, Oregon seemed to be the first team to catch on to Polk’s ability to get deep and he wasn’t open a couple of times UW tried to replicate the success of past games in getting him open on longer routes. Sankey had a nice run. Jesse Callier’s role isn’t getting bigger of late but he did have two receptions. And as noted earlier, Tim Tucker is making a move at the fullback job and had two receptions for 12 yards.

RECEIVER: A spotty night in this department as there were again 3-4 drops, including the killer one by Kevin Smith that would have at least provided one last moment of excitement in the stadium, if nothing else. It also seemed as if the WRs had trouble getting open against an Oregon secondary that has been perceived as a weakness at times. And Sarkisian himself said he needed to figure out why they didn’t get more out of Austin Seferian-Jenkins than the one catch for minus-six yards. Nice to see Michael Hartvigson get his first TD, but UW needed to get more out of that position today than three catches for minus-five yards.

OFFENSIVE LINE: I would imagine this area will get a pretty nasty grade from the coaches as the Ducks seemed to own the front all night long. As Sarkisian himself noted later, this was the second time in three weeks UW had played one of the elite teams in the conference but was outmatched up front. He said he didn’t think it was a scheme thing, which is almost more ominous since a schemes are easier to change quickly. UW remains young up front, with three second-year players, and on nights like this it’s evident they’ve still got a ways to go. The hope, obviously, is that the improvement is there to be made quickly.

DEFENSIVE LINE: It was a common theme afterward that considering what Oregon’s offense has done to a lot of people, what it did against UW wasn’t all that bad — 212 yards rushing and 381 overall. Worth noting, though, that on Oregon’s first 11 drives, it either scored touchdowns or attempted field goals on eight. Another ended on that goofy play where Darron Thomas just dropped the ball. The other two were punts. Oregon finished with four punts, also punting on its last two possessions when the game was decided. So not a bad night for UW, but still, a loss. And when Oregon needed to, it created the room up front necessary to go on some long drives and make some big plays. UW didn’t have a sack and remains at just 15 for the season, and that ultimately starts up front, as well. UW tried some things, again giving Andrew Hudson a lot of time, moving him inside again at times, as well. But UW didn’t seem to get much pressure off the edge, and Oregon got the yards up the middle when it seemed to need them most.

LINEBACKER: A few too many missed tackles, and a few too many open receivers at key times. But the effort was there — Cort Dennison finished with 10 tackles, John Timu with eight and Princeton Fuimaono had six, and each had a tackle-for-a-loss, the only ones of the night for the Huskies (Oregon, by contrast, had 12).

DEFENSIVE BACKS: In the most noteworthy personnel news in this spot, Will Shamburger again got the start and finished with nine tackles. Sean Parker had six at strong safety. Nate Fellner played sparingly. UW pretty much just three cornerbacks as the Oregon offense wasn’t on the field a lot early so it didn’t appear the Huskies needed to rotate as much as may have been thought. Oregon was far from sharp throwing — at least three drops, including a touchdown, and Thomas seemed a little off on some throws. Still, he hit the ones he needed to, such as the third-and-nine to David Paulson that keyed the drive that made it 31-17. And UW only had one pass breakup.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Other than the long KO return by De’Anthony Thomas — and give some real hustle points to Justin Glenn for making the play there, four-point savings — UW might have gotten the win in special teams. No other returns hurt, and Oregon committed a few penalties to place it in some holes to start a few drives.

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