Trick or Treat on Saturday?

Let me check my calendar again. Yes, this is October and nearly Halloween. That must be the explanation for what is going on this week. Could the team that will play the Ducks on Saturday at Autzen Stadium be disguising itself for the Huskies of Washington? <br><br> Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti isn't prepared to say trick or treat just yet as he and his team looks forward to extending the current win streak from three games to four.

Bellotti answered questions during his weekly media conference and the Pac-10 weekly media conference that were streamed live on

The Huskies (1-6, 0-4) are assured of the their first losing season in three decades and have just been plain horrible this season. So should Oregon fans expect a treat starting at 4 p.m. on Saturday, right? If you ask Bellotti, he isn't taking anything for granted with Oregon's record, 4-3 overall and 3-1 Pac-10 play.

"I don't think we are good enough or have accomplished enough to be over confidant about anybody we play," remarked Bellotti. "I will say Washington is a better team than their record, and that is not just coach-speak if you watch them play. They could have easily beaten Oregon State. They fumbled twice going in from the 1-yard line and had a touchdown pass called back at the end of the game. It would have made a big difference. Turnovers and mistakes have cost them."

Bellotti's team is on a hot streak after beating Stanford, 16-13 at Palo Alto last week. The Ducks were impressive on defense and recorded 10 quarterback sacks on a very good Stanford team. All of the defensive front line had at least one sack during the game. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was particularly remarkable because of all the attention a man that stands 6-feet-4 and weighs 345 pounds attracts, and he can also chase down running backs for tackles. Ngata though is not the only Duck defender getting the attention of Washington coach Keith Gilbertson.

"Chris Solomona, Robby Valenzuela, those people have really picked up the tempo for their front," Gilbertson said in his weekly media conference on Monday. "Will we be excited to play them, yeah. Do we have a lot of respect for them, you bet."

What is so hard to believe when looking at like the Huskies, is how could they be so out of synch after years of dominance and great results? Looking at the Washington statistics makes one wonder if your eyes are playing tricks on you. For example, Washington is being outscored this season by an average of over twice as much (14.0 ppg to 30.0 ppg). Washington is being statistically outscored in every quarter. Their leading rusher, Kenny James has 112 carries for 522 yards, five touchdowns and averages 74.6 ypg. Those aren't bad numbers for James, but while the Huskies are averaging 146.0 ypg rushing, their opponents are averaging 188.3 ypg. The quarterback situation is very unsettled and as of Tuesday, no signal caller has yet been named as the starter against the Ducks. Junior Casey Paus has the best numbers. He has an 86.93 efficiency percentage in seven games going 59-for133, 699 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions, but he is only averaging a paltry 99.9 ypg passing. Isaiah Stanback has played in four games and has efficiency rating of 78.21, going 15-for-50, 256 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Stanback is averaging 64.0 yards per contest. Carl Bonnell has also played in four games, with a 57.69 efficiency percentage and is 20-of-54, 228 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions. Perhaps if you combine the statistics, things wouldn't look so bad -- except Washington is averaging 169.4-ypg passing and their opponents are averaging 190.1 ypg. Things are so pathetic that Gilbertson could barely respond to a question in his weekly Pac-10 media conference about the positives for the Washington offense from the USC game last week.

"Offensively we were horrible. There's no sense even talking about our offense," answered Gilbertson. "We were 0-for-13 first downs, 113 yards total offense and six first downs. We're not going to talk about our offense."

Oddly enough, one of Bellotti's concerns is exactly who will be the starting Husky quarterback. Bellotti thinks Paus is a classic drop back quarterback, but is not much of a scrambler. Stanback is very mobile and Bonnell is a combination of both. Maybe Bellotti remembers last year when Paus had his best game of the year coming in off the bench for former quarterback Cody Pickett against the Ducks. Paus was 5-for-8, 117 yards and two touchdowns, including a 63-yard connection and score with former Washington receiver Reggie Williams. Of course Pickett and Williams are gone, but the Ducks remember that James had 104 yards rushing on that snowy night last year and Shelton Sampson had 134 yards and three touchdowns, including a 77-yard gallop. Washington also has a very exciting player in Charles Frederick, affectionately known as ET at receiver. Frederick has appeared in five games and has 17 catches for 253 yards and a touchdown. Sonny Shackelford has been in all seven games and has 12 catches for 196 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Joe Toledo has nine catches for 196 yards and a touchdown.

"Great run after catch guy," Bellotti described Frederick's abilities. "It wouldn't break my heart if he wasn't completely healthy this week."

Defensively, Washington does have a sack specialist in Manase Hopoi, who has eight sacks so far this season. Cornerback Sam Cunningham is a player who had originally signed a letter of intent to play for the Ducks out of high school, but was unable to meet entry requirements. When he was able to meet those requirements, he chose to go to Washington instead of Oregon. Cunningham has two interceptions this year along with Evan Benjamin, who also has two picks.

There will be no mistaking the Oregon offense led by quarterback Kellen Clemens. The junior from Burns, Oregon is having a sensational streak starting from the Washington State game, but he's had impressive numbers all year long. Clemens is 155-for-247, 1,878 yards, 12 touchdowns, and only four interceptions, for a 139.41 efficiency rating. He has also run for 286 yards on 72 carries (net 147 yards) and three touchdowns.

"Kellen Clemens, is a very competitive guy, he's tough, he has a really good arm, good feet, he plays in a really good system. He's had success," commented Gilbertson. "In the last two games, he's thrown for good numbers...62 percent completions, he's having a terrific year."

Oregon running back Terrence Whitehead is on track for a 1,000 yard rushing year this season. So far he has 128 carries for 699 yards and five touchdowns and averages 99.6 yards per game. Whitehead is also an effective receiver having 30 catches for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Demetrius Williams is the leading receiver with 42 catches for 532 one touchdown. Tight end Tim Day has 22 catches for 359 yards and four touchdowns. Oregon has averaged 25.3 ppg in scoring this season while giving up 23.4 ppg. The Ducks have out rushed opponents (170.4 yards to 109.3) and out passed opponents (278.7 yards to 188.0 yards) this season. Overall, the Ducks have a total average of 449.1 yards per game compared to the total average for opponents' 297.3 yards per game.

While he thinks it is great for fans to be very emotional and excited about the Husky game, Bellotti looks at it a bit differently. He takes last year's game with a grain of salt, choosing to look at what worked successfully and what may not have worked so well. The head coach is cognizant that both the Huskies and Ducks are slightly different teams than in the past and that over half of his current team was not even on the roster two years ago. Fans though may have a slightly longer memory, some still remembering games and events back into the '40s, '50s, '60s, etc. etc. etc.

While it is true that the game will fall on a day that many hold Halloween parties, Husky fans should keep in mind that current security requirements at Autzen Stadium disallow the wearing paper bags over one's head. Oregon fans should also keep in mind that undue ribbing of Husky fans could be consider unseemly and that the replaying of Kenny Wheaton's pick in the 1994 Oregon-Washington game on Duck Vision will be enough of annoyance to die hard Huskies as it is.

Kickoff for one of the most intense interstate rivalries in the nation is scheduled for 4 p.m. to accommodate a statewide television broadcast on the Oregon Sports Network.


Offensive center Enoka Lucas will not play Saturday, though he maybe available against California the following week as a guard on the offensive line. Lucas broke his finger in the Stanford game and Bellotti feels he will not be used as a center for the remainder of the season.

Bellotti was asked both in the weekly conference and the Pac-10 conference about the firing in mid-season of Florida coach Ron Zook. Bellotti indicated he did not know the particulars of the situation, but felt that a number of factors have an affect on head coaching jobs including parity of Division I programs and realistic or unrealistic expectations of fans and supporters.

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