Rich Kolbell

Oregon's defensive struggles continue as the Ducks are manhandled by the Washington Huskies, 70-21

“We’re gonna go play our butts off,” Oregon defensive coordinator Brady Hoke stated on Thursday after practice. That couldn’t have been more inaccurate as the Ducks gave up 682 yards of total offense to long-time rival No. 5 Washington Huskies. 

The tone of the game was pretty much set and sealed when Justin Herbert threw an interception on the first play of the game.  The Huskies took advantage of the turnover when Jake Browning ran for a 1-yd touchdown ending a 3-play 30-yard drive giving the Huskies an early 7-0 lead follow the point after. 

 

Once the Huskies got the early lead, their momentum made it difficult for the Ducks to establish any type of defense. Oregon again missed tackles, the defensive front was too often over powered by the Husky offensive line. Linebackers seemed frozen in place as they watched receives run past them. Defensive backs continually gave 5-yard cushions as to receivers running down field.

Heading into halftime, trailing the Huskies 35-7, the Ducks were out played 197 total yards of offense to the Huskies 347 yards of offense. 

 

Fans would like to know why their team isn’t living up to their expectations and the second half wasn’t any better with the Ducks offense providing only 14 more points and the defense being obliterated for 335 yards and 35 points.

 

During the preparation week, head coach Mark Helfrich saw his team as more focused saying “we’ve practiced well; you know we practiced really well this week”. 

 

However, whatever Helfrich saw in practice obviously isn’t making its way to the playing field as the Oregon defenders were again scorched trying to stop the run. Washington rushed for 378 yards on Saturday night with Myles Gaskin accounting for 197 net yards including a 68-yard TD run. While the lineup rotated players in and we saw new faces popping up on the final stat sheet, it wasn’t until the final minutes of the game – garbage time that there was any semblance of a team that could compete.

 

“From the word go last Monday, it showed, we were well prepared” Helfrich stated after losing 70-21, extending their losing streak to four. The question now is, prepared for what? If this was what a team looks like when it had the best week of practice, what does it look like when it has a normal week?

 

Following the game there appeared to be no emotions, frustration or desire from a majority of the players after the embarrassing loss. Instead of seeing a sullen set of players leaving the field, laughing and smiling, having a good time with friends and family.

Some observers wondered just before the end of the game if the Oregon coaching staff would immediately take the team out to the training field behind the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex for “conditioning.”

That didn’t happen of course.

“We treat them exactly the same after a win or a loss,” said Helfrich in the post game presser. “We keep coaching them, loving them, focusing on the future. We’re very honest with them. We sit down and access with them what is going on. We take responsibility as coaches and they do the same as players.”

Hmm, some would wonder if some tough love might be in order. Mike Bellotti for example would resort to doing up and downs, an exercise where players would drop to the ground then jump back; drop to the ground and jump back up; over and over until the point of whatever Bellotti making became abundantly clear. Tough love, Bellotti had the team doing up and downs, not because he was some sort of masochistic tyrant, but because he had to get the player’s full attention.

Who knows really though. Media isn’t allowed into practice sessions so there is no telling what measures this coaching staff takes on the practice field to get points across. We know that Chip Kelly was keen on massive sets of repetitions on all the small tasks. We remember some coaches not totally believing that it was necessary to practice running onto the field, but that’s what Kelly had his team do in practice. They rehearsed everything, including walking into the stadium.

Does this team do that?

The Ducks look to regroup and heal, during the bye week to “clean up” any remaining loose ends according to the coaching staff. Will they practice on all those fundamental tasks as Kelly did and ultimately had such great success? What does this team really do when fans and media aren’t watching in live games?

“Cleaning up” loose ends seems to have become a frequent description of what the coaches and teams does and during this bye week the Oregon Ducks will have plenty loose ends to deal with.

Up next is California on Friday, October 21, 2016 in Berkeley at Memorial Stadium. 

(Garrett Hill contributed to this story)


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