Ducks Fly Away With LA Trip at Hand

The Huskies just couldn't score enough to stay with Oregon and now must find some quick answers to jump-start their suddenly sputtering offense for another battle with the USC Trojans. In the words of Ringo Starr - "It don't come easy, you know it don't come easy".

Washington completes the "probational" phase of their football schedule, moving from one team seemingly about to go on probation to another about to come out of NCAA jail. It would be a total surprise to me if Oregon walks away free once the NCAA finishes their investigation and the subsequent punishment phase for the Ducks' recruiting scandal that almost seems forgotten in the heat of the season. Meanwhile, the Trojans of USC have ignored their probation and have continued to be one of the top-tier programs in the west, if not the nation.

Right now it appears that Stanford, Oregon, and USC remain the top echelon of the Pac-12, while Washington has a chance to become "the best of the rest" especially if they can somehow find a way to finish strong by winning out. Considering USC is next team on their schedule and it's on the road, the Huskies need be on their 'A' game to win it. As in 2009 and 2010, it would again become the Huskies' signature win of the regular season.

For two years in a row the Huskies have beaten the Trojans, winning both contests by the narrowest margins - one point last year and the points the year before, and both on Erik Folk field goals at the end.

Hopefully Washington can regroup from their latest loss to Oregon, which is now their eighth consecutive loss to the Ducks. Yikes! They will need to put that one behind them quickly, because the Trojans have better players than Oregon does.

Washington's overall record against Oregon now sits at 58-41-5, but against the Trojans the Huskies are a dismal 28-49-4. They can't change the outcome of their game against Oregon but they can continue their streak over USC if they can find their offense again.

It's pretty obvious that you're going to have to score points to beat the Ducks. You're not going to beat a team like Oregon if you can only muster 278 yards of total offense, give up six sacks and only score two touchdowns. If you also give them two interceptions and a fumble, plus being stopped on fourth down a couple of times, it becomes almost an impossible job for any defense - much less one that is still developing and struggling as it is.

The Huskies are definitely closing the gap on the Mighty Ducks, whose program rose with the decline of the Dawgs over the past decade. Like them or hate them, they are a well coached program and have a very unique system built around the concept of speed. Washington has been adding speed, but would want to seek out some "elite" speed to complement their present personnel.

It also gets down to finding players who can play in space at a high speed, be it on either side of the ball but especially in the kicking game (The 'Run and Hit' factor, if you will). They have added a number of these sorts of kids over that past two years, and Washington has an excellent group of coaches from a recruiting standpoint. They are gradually getting better but it's a long climb back. Patience is a good thing when looking at this Husky team. They continue to improve and winning this next game would help prove it. To notch their seventh win with two games to go would put the Huskies in a great position with the Beavers and Cougars remaining on the schedule.

Beating the Ducks will have to wait another year for now because the USC Trojans want to let the Huskies know they're in a class with Oregon and Stanford. Washington wants to move into that spot right behind those two, so this game has great significance besides the fact that many of the Huskies are from that area.

The good news is that they are playing a team similar to themselves on both sides of the ball. This should help Washington to be even better prepared. There is no doubt that Keith Price has leveled off a little in his play, but with Kasen Williams starting to come around and with the presence of Austin Serferian-Jenkins, the Huskies have two weapons that are just starting to be tapped. Both should really help Price to get back on track, as will getting Jesse Callier more involved again. How Price and running back Chris Polk go, so go the Huskies. Both must play well in order for Washington to win in LA. Both are also from southern California, so they will have that added incentive to play well.

Polk got his 30 touches in the last game, but it was tough sledding; he carried the ball 24 times for 80 yards. Polk and Williams led the team in receiving with six catches each, but Polk's were only good for 31 yards. Oregon's defense did a great job of keying on him, and you can bet USC will game plan accordingly.

Washington's defense will have its hands full trying to contain QB Matt Barkley and their sensational wide receiver, Robert Woods. Of course the Trojans also have a great freshman receiver in Marquise Lee and stable of running backs and have been putting up good numbers with their offense. They have gone over 500 yards a couple of times this year and are offensively capable of really exploding. They are going to score on this Husky defense, so it's up to the offense and special teams to respond with their best games of the season.

So far this season the Huskies have won the games they're supposed to and have lost to Nebraska, Stanford, and now Oregon - all ranked teams, and all in the upper echelon of college football. They will be heavy underdogs on the road in this one, but they have been here before and good teams don't lose two in a row. Washington is trying to become a good football team and a victory here would go a long way toward proving that. A win would be a definite upset and it won't happen without points, so Keith Price needs to re-find his groove, so to speak. He must have his best game of the year this weekend so that Washington can finish this season on a rush.

Think about it. What if they come home from LA 7-3 and 5-2 in conference? Would you have taken that at the start of the season? I would have for sure.


Dawgman.com Top Stories