Led by an aggressive and swarming defense, the University of Washington Huskies pulled off a big upset last Thursday in LA. UW’s defense pressed Cody Kessler into the worst game of of his career in what proved to be the end of the Sark era for USC.
This week the Oregon Ducks come to town!
When the 2015 schedule was released, this game seemed like a certain L for UW, but a lot has changed since then. The Huskies are actually favored to win the Saturday night matchup.
The Ducks are coming off a home OT loss to WSU. Yeah, that WSU. Oregon limps into Seattle 3-3 and needing a win to save their season. It would be great to see those Ducks head back to Eugene with a losing record.
Sophomore Royce Freeman leads the always potent running attack for Oregon. The 230 pound bowling ball of a RB is averaging over 140 yards a game and 7 yards a carry. If Oregon had a few more wins, Freeman would be a Heisman candidate.
Freshman Taj Griffin is another in a long line of small Duck RBs. He’s averaging an amazing 9.2 yards a carry, and Oregon HC Mark Helfrich will get him the ball in a number of innovative ways. Limiting Freeman and Griffin will be a major task for the Husky defense.
Oregon has a deep set of WRs too. Led by Bralon Addison, the Ducks have the speed and playmaking abilities that will test the young Huksy secondary. The Ducks haven’t been putting up big passing numbers, but that isn’t necessarily a reflection of the depth of talent they have at WR.
Now that Marcus Mariota is in the NFL (thank goodness), QB is a much different story for Oregon. Jeff Lockie has started for an injured Vernon Adams the last 4 games, and the Junior QB has played inconsistently. He was benched in their blowout loss to Utah, but he’s also completed over 70% of his passes in his 2 winning starts of the season.
The Oregon secondary has had some pretty rough games this season. WSU threw the ball all over a disinterested group of defensive backs. This unit is without doubt the weak link of the Duck’s defense.
Senior DE DeForest Buckner is built a lot like former Duck and 1st round pick Arik Armstead. The 6’7″ 290 DE is a top NFL prospect and surprisingly athletic for a man of his size. Buckner is a prototypical 3-4 DE and the Husky OL will need to pay special attention to the talent pass rusher.
Edge rusher Christian French is another Duck that can make plays on defense. The Senior DE/OLB is a natural athlete but a bit raw. He’s the type of player that John Schneider and Uncle Pete draft and develop.
Vernon Adams. Will he play or not? Husky HC Chris Petersen thinks he will. We all remember what Adams did in Husky Stadium last year. With Adams in the lineup, Oregon has to really like their chances.
For the Huskies to win, they need to:
Unleash Jake Browning. The true Freshman QB didn’t have the best stats against USC, but he made some plays. Against Oregon, he’s going to have to make a lot of plays. The Ducks are susceptible to a patient passing attack, and moving the chains in the intermediate passing game will be the best way to slow down the talented Oregon DL.
Will the misery end after 11 years? Is this finally the year that the Huskies beat Phil Knight’s squad? Going with the assumption that Vernon Adams starts, the Oregon running game wears down the spirited, but undersized, Husky defense. Adams makes some big plays in the 2nd half as the Ducks make it a dozen straight against Washington. Oregon 38, Washington 20.
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Saturday, October 17 @ 7:30 pm (PST) on ESPN.
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