Weekend Thoughts (Week 6)

Washington is now at a crossroads after falling to 4-2 on the season with Saturday's 45-24 loss to Oregon. How they respond and where they go from here is what will define the season. With that in mind, here is a look back at the weekend that was for the Dawgs as well as the rest of the Pac 12 after what some have dubbed "Shakeup Saturday"...

-- My fear was that Washington would be able to stick close to Oregon for a while, but in the end, the speed and execution of the Ducks would just be too much for them to overcome. In the end, the offenses inability to execute in the first half allowed the Ducks to get a 14-point lead heading into halftime. The Dawgs came out like gangbusters in the third quarter and appeared as if they would be able to make a game of it, but they had nothing left in the tank in the fourth quarter and that allowed the Ducks to score 14 unanswered points, resulting in what appeared to be a blowout when, in reality, I don't think the difference between the two teams is 21 points.

-- Hand it to Oregon. They are the best team I've seen this year and I've watched every Top 25 team in the country play at least two games. While the entire Duck squad is loaded with speed and talent, Marcus Mariota is the real difference-maker for them. He's almost impossible to defense. If you blitz or send your defensive ends up the field in an attempt to get pressure on him, he will just gash you with his scrambling ability. But, if you contain him and make him throw, as Washington found out the hard way, he's a pretty darn accurate passer and he will still get his yards when things break down.

-- Washington has got to figure out a way to get more push from their interior players in the pass-rush. While Danny Shelton continues to play at a high level vs. the run, he's not really much of a threat on the pass-rush and he doesn't really collapse the pocket at all. Can some of the younger guys do that? I don't see it happening this year, but in the long run they definitely have the talent to get it done. We'll have to see how they develop.

-- For those worrying about how the offensive line is playing, I just have to disagree. For the most part, the offensive line is playing pretty well. Especially when you consider that one of their starters, Dexter Charles, missed most of the second half with an injury and he was replaced by Erik Kohler who has experience but is definitely a step back in ability compared to Charles who is arguably UW's best lineman. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I just don't see the offensive line being the weakness some other have said that it is.

-- Keith Price has got to get the ball to Austin Seferian-Kenkins and Kasen Williams. Yes, Oregon was rolling their coverage to Williams' side and Seferian-Jenkins typically had a safety over the top of him, but, after watching the game twice now, you can see both breaking open in the middle of the field and Price hasn't thrown it to them. You can say it is play-calling all you want, but to me, after watching the past couple of games, Price has had time scan the field and is not getting the ball into the hands of his best receivers when they are open. This has absolutely got to change.

-- Hauoli Kikaha is just an animal out there. He is non-stop hustle, he's tough to block and his closing speed is outstanding when he has the QB in his sights (Mariota notwithstanding). I think he could be the real difference-maker for the Huskies over the second-half of the season and that will be huge for them up front.

-- Regardless of the Oregon game, Marcus Peters continues to impress and I still think he winds up on either the conference first or second team. Now, Greg Ducre on the other hand, I saw some chinks in the armor and he needs to bounce back. He got turned around by the Duck wideouts on Saturday and I've seen him beaten a few times. He's got the ability to play at a high level, but I haven't seen it the past couple of weeks.

-- Bishop Sankey may be the most complete tailback in the country. His only rival, at least that I've seen, is Ka'Deem Carey and his game is very similar. He can catch, he can block and he he just has a knack for finding a little crease and making the most of the every opportunity. If he stays at Washington for his senior season, a big question if the NFL comes calling, he will wind up being, statistically, the best running back to every play at Washington.


-- Yeah, USC is starting to play better, but with Cody Kessler at QB, I just don't see them being much of a threat to Arizona State or UCLA in the Pac 12 South.

-- Ugh, Sean Mannion might be the most dangerous passer in the Pac 12 aside from Mariota. Man, that guy can really sling it. Considering Oregon State can't run the ball at all, it's even more impressive since most defenses are loading up to stop the pass and all he's done this year is average over 48 attempts per game while completing 67.1% of his throws for 2,511 yards, 25 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Considering OSU lost to Eastern Washington, it is an absolute shock that the Beavers are now 5-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play. However, that being said, their toughest games lie down the road with tilts vs. Washington, Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State and USC in the final five games of the season.

-- Washington State QB Connor Halliday absolutely fell apart against an average, at best, OSU defense, throwing interceptions on three-straight possessions in the fourth quarter. With 13 picks on the season, Halliday definitely needs to be worried about redshirt freshman Austin Apadaca getting the nod from Mike Leach.

-- Speaking of Leach, he lit up his team following their 52-24 loss to the Beavers questioning their heart and their competitive nature. Last year, it emboldened the players and they came out and played well, for the most part, the last few weeks of the season. Will it work this year? As AANDY likes to say...tick, tick, tick...

-- Stanford head coach David Shaw is a good coach, but he made some really questionable offensive play calls at the end of their 27-21 loss to Utah. 3rd-and-2 from the Utah six yard line on your final drive with 51 seconds left and a timeout and you throw it twice? Really? Lots of questions are swirling down on the Farm about his future potential.

-- The win over Stanford was Utah's biggest since joining the Pac 12 in 2011. I was as hard on Travis Wilson as anyone after last week's loss to UCLA, but he played a great game vs. Stanford and was a big reason the Utes were in position to win the game.

-- While Wilson definitely had a hand in helping Utah win, the real difference was the way Utah's defensive front seven controlled the line of scrimmage for much of the game. Some have said that the Utes' linebackers are the fastest in the conference and while I'm not ready to say that (Washington, UCLA and Oregon's linebackers are pretty fast), they have played lights out the past couple of games, especially Trevor Reilly and Jason Whittingham.

-- Oregon is still the class of the Pac 12, but UCLA continues to show me why they are largely thought of as the second-best team in the conference. Brett Hundley looks so polished for a second-year starter and threw for a career high (410 yards) against Cal who admittedly has the worst defense in the Pac 12. That fact still doesn't change my mind that Hundley is the second-most dangerous in the conference behind Mariota and third best overall if you include Mannion. One area of concern for the Bruins has to be their running game or lack thereof vs. a Cal team that was surrendering close to 200 yards per game on the ground.


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