Make it five in a row in what could soon be known as the I-5 beat down. Despite playing with their third and fourth string quarterbacks for more than half of the game, the Ducks managed to put up 496 of total offense on the Huskies, walking away with a 44-10 victory in front of a packed crowd at Autzen Stadium.
"Obviously the outcome was one we did not anticipate. Coming in, we felt like we would fair much better then we did, so we are disappointed," expressed Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham. "We felt like we would have a chance to win this game, even in this environment. One, we didn't run the football like I thought we would be able to run the football. Two, we gave up too many big plays that didn't allow us to keep their offense in check."
"This was a great win," exclaimed Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti. "Any opening day victory is awesome, and any time you can open with a conference win is awesome. It's difficult to prepare for a team on the first week, especially when they have a talent like Jake Locker."
Locker however, was not nearly enough to defeat the Ducks, finishing the game 12-of-28 for 103 yards and no touchdowns while also adding 16 rushes for 57 yards. To beat Oregon, the Huskies needed to run the ball effectively. However, Washington mustered up a meager 95 yards on the ground in the loss.
"We just didn't execute what we needed to. I need to get the ball in quicker and we need to improve the whole offense," said Locker. "We didn't play as well as we can. We're not a team that can just come out and win without trying. We have to play as well as we can to win games. No one in this league is a pushover."
"We didn't see this coming. We knew they were going to load the box, but we still thought we'd be able to knock them off the ball and run the football," said Washington Offensive Coordinator Tim Lappano. "We weren't able to run the ball in any way shape or form. Whether we spread them or tried to play them with the power set, we couldn't run the football."
"I think there were some opportunities to hit some [holes] we didn't hit. We had some opportunities where we didn't block them too well," explained Willingham. "I think they did a nice job of keeping the ninth guy down in the box, and we couldn't find the right way to get him out. When we attempted it, we couldn't hit it."
Arguably the biggest strength of the Huskies - the offensive line - was nowhere to be found for the majority of the game. The big boys up front allowed three sacks while providing little space for Washington's running backs to run, evident by freshman Chris Polk and sophomore Brandon Johnson's 21 combined rushes for 34 yards.
"I don't know what it was - there wasn't a lot of room it didn't look like. It looked pretty stuffed up in there. It didn't seem like there was anywhere to go, so that was tough," said Lappano. "They bumped us outside, pressured Locker with a lot of blitzes and made us get the ball out fast so we couldn't get a lot of stuff down field."
"I thought we played the run very well," said Bellotti. "Most of their rushing yards came from Locker scrambling out of the pocket on passing plays. Our defense is as advertised. They shut down the run, defended the pass and were able to pressure the quarterback."
Things began rough for the Huskies after moving the ball a total of 18 yards between their first two drives, while giving up two touchdowns to Oregon in the Ducks' first three possessions. Oregon's first two scores came on big plays - a 42-yard scamper by senior running back Jeremiah Johnson and a 60-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Terence Scott.
The Huskies managed to generate some offense following a missed Oregon field goal, stringing together an 11-play, 62-yard drive which ended in a field goal to make the score 14-3. Following redshirt freshman cornerback Quinton Richardson's interception of a Justin Roper pass - a play in which Roper suffered a concussion that would sideline him for the remainder of the game - the Huskies drove 60-yards in 13 plays to cut the Oregon lead to four points on a one-yard Paul Homer run.
With Roper out and the Ducks up by only four points, it looked favorable for the Huskies. Looks can be deceiving. Oregon began the second-half slaughter with a 13-yard touchdown run by Johnson, which pushed the Ducks' lead to 21-10 with just under 11 minutes to play in the third quarter. Oregon's next score came early in the third quarter on a 41-yard field goal by senior Matt Evensen. The Ducks followed up on their next possession with a 48-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Jeremiah Masoli to senior wide receiver Jaison Williams. Oregon's fifth touchdown of the night came in the form of a 25-yard pass from Masoli to sophomore wide receiver Jeff Maehl. The Ducks topped out at 44 points when true freshman quarterback Chris Harper scored on a two-yard keeper. Harper finished the game with 12 rushes for 70 yards.
A bright spot for the Huskies, was the play of heralded true freshman Kavario Middleton, who pulled in four catches for 35 yards, a couple of which came in crucial third and long situations.
"I did like Kavario Middleton over the middle. [We] got him the football a little bit, so that was probably a real bright spot for us," expressed Lappano. "He's a big weapon in the middle, made some nice plays and caught the ball. [I] thought he played pretty well for his first game."
While Oregon didn't amass as many yards against the Huskies this season, the Ducks still managed to rack up 496 yards of total offense.
"Not what we intended to happen. They did a couple of things to get us off balance early. We spotted them the early lead - we weren't happy about. We adjusted and kind of battled back. We looked to move forward at halftime, we felt under control at that point," explained Washington Defensive Coordinator [db]Ed Donatell. "Then they made a couple of big plays. We really intended to tackle better. I felt they out-answered us in the second half."
Heading into the opener, a main question was what kind of defense will Donatell run. The answer, a 3-3-5 defense.
"It worked at times during the game, it's just that we spotted them early and we didn't intend to do that," explained Donatell of his defensive scheme. "It's [the 3-3-5 defense] something we could possibly use during the year. We looked at our personnel and what we had available. With a lot of young kids playing, you don't have to play them as much with the three-down look. Just didn't play out the way we wanted it to."
The Huskies will look to rebound next week when the 16th ranked Cougars of BYU come to Seattle to battle Washington in what could be viewed as the most important game in Willingham's tenure as the Husky's head man. However, Willingham feels confident in the ability of his young team to respond well to the loss.
"I think that's the great thing about youth, they are probably more resilient than anything else," said Willingham. "They will bounce back and be ready to play. I simply told them that there is a better team in our locker room than we showed on the field. We do believe we can run the football, we do believe we can pass the football, and we can make plays."
|Oregon: JEREMIAH JOHNSON 4 YD RUN (MATT EVENSEN KICK)|
|Oregon: TERENCE SCOTT 60 YD PASS FROM JUSTIN ROPER (MATT EVENSEN KICK)|
|Washington: RYAN PERKINS 35 YD FG|
|Washington: PAUL HOMER 1 YD RUN (RYAN PERKINS KICK)|
|Oregon: JEREMIAH JOHNSON 13 YD RUN (MATT EVENSEN KICK)|
|Oregon: MATT EVENSEN 41 YD FG|
|Oregon: JAISON WILLIAMS 48 YD PASS FROM JEREMIAH MASOLI (MISSED KICK)|
|Oregon: JEFF MAEHL 25 YD PASS FROM JEREMIAH MASOLI (MATT EVENSEN KICK)|
|Oregon: CHRIS HARPER 2 YD RUN (MORGAN FLINT KICK)|
|TOTAL FIRST DOWNS||23||18|
|TOTAL NET YARDS||496||242|
|NET YARDS RUSHING||256||95|
|Average per rush||5.8||2.2|
|NET YARDS PASSING||240||147|
|OTHER|| || |
|Time of Possesion||24:17||35:43|
|Jeremiah Masoli (0)||9||17||126||2||0||7.4|
|Justin Roper (0)||7||11||114||1||1||10.4|
|Jake Locker (0)||12||28||103||0||0||3.7|
|Ronnie Fouch (0)||5||7||44||0||0||6.3|
|Jeremiah Johnson (0)||15||124||2||8.3|
|Chris Harper (0)||12||60||1||5.0|
|Jeremiah Masoli (0)||4||23||0||5.8|
|LeGarrette Blount (0)||4||21||0||5.3|
|Jeff Maehl (0)||3||19||0||6.3|
|Remene Alston (0)||4||17||0||4.3|
|Matt Larkin (0)||1||0||0||0.0|
| Team (0)||1||-8||0||-8.0|
|Jake Locker (0)||16||57||0||3.6|
|Chris Polk (0)||14||19||0||1.4|
|Brandon Johnson (0)||7||13||0||1.9|
|Paul Homer (0)||3||4||1||1.3|
|D'Andre Goodwin (0)||2||4||0||2.0|
|Ronnie Fouch (0)||1||-2||0||-2.0|
|Terence Scott (0)||6||117||1||19.5|| |
|Jeff Maehl (0)||5||49||1||9.8|| |
|Jaison Williams (0)||4||61||1||15.3|| |
|Jeremiah Johnson (0)||1||13||0||13.0|| |
|D'Andre Goodwin (0)||8||67||0||8.4|| |
|Kavario Middleton (0)||4||35||0||8.8|| |
|Jermaine Kearse (0)||2||17||0||8.5|| |
|Alvin Logan (0)||1||11||0||11.0|| |
|Devin Aguilar (0)||1||10||0||10.0|| |
|Jordan Polk (0)||1||7||0||7.0|| |
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