The third quarter was clearly Washington's best PAC-10 quarter of the season. They moved the ball smartly for a field-goal to begin the half, and then the defense didn't allow Oregon to answer. Immediately, the Huskies found themselves moving again before an Aaron Gipson interception. Before it was over, it had featured three long-distance heaves from Paus to newly-anointed star Chambers. In fact, Washington's six-minute drive to begin the second half was just three minutes shy of their entire first-half possession time (9:05). And their 155 yards in the stanza was just 40 yards short of their output in the previous six quarters combined.
Special teams had perhaps its best game of the year. Evan Knudsen with two perfect three-pointers, Kyle Trew with a punt fumble recovery, Sean Douglas put a boot down on the Oregon one. True that Rankin put the ball on the ground – but at least it was on a good yardage return. Yes, that's not saying much. But it's a start.
With Evan Knudsen's 41-yard first-quarter FG, Washington ended a scoreless streak that was twelve seconds shy of 101 minutes. They also ran their consecutive-game scoring streak to one.
Washington also ended a streak of 19-straight unconverted first downs in the second quarter. Their good fortune lasted seven seconds – Paus fumbled it away on the very next play. Good thing Marcus Maxwell returned the favor, turning a sure touchdown into a Dashon Goldson interception during a circus-like three minute span. It was Maxwell's second big gaffe – he's the one that slipped a sure-fire flea-flicker TD into an incompletion. Cam Colvin also chipped in with a pair of drops in the first half, helping to keep the Huskies in it before his end-of-half TD reception got Oregon safe again.
Now, the bad.
Oregon scored on their first drive against Washington for a third consecutive season. All three drives have gone 80-plus yards.
It was a Soft-Shoe Husky defense in the first half. There were far too many after-contact yards for the Ducks, keeping drives alive. More times than not, it wasn't Oregon hitting plays, it was Washington's defense just missing them. Even when the Huskies were getting up field, they still weren't crashing the edge. Whitehead was able to make quick cuts up inside consistently for four-and-five yards a crack. Both Benjamin and Lobendahn had big whiffs in the first half.
The ground game acted as a Halloween reminder – it was frightful.
Husky quarterbacks have now completed 34 of their last 100 passes. You figure the percentage.
Six second half-turnovers. A Pepperidge Farms van was spotted circling the stadium with four minutes remaining.
With two turnovers today, Washington has created 16 on the season. And converted them to 16 points. This is almost unheard of in the annals of offensive ineptness.
It was the smallest contingent of Husky fans we've ever seen at Autzen Stadium, with lots of room for everyone. In total, there were at least 5,000 empty seats at kickoff.
ONE WIN, SEVEN LOSSES..
Post mortem: Lest anyone thinks Oregon was unhappy with their struggles in the middle of the game, Kellen Clemens said after, "Hey, we'll take a 31-6 win over the Dawgs any day."
Washington has only six players that have started every game at their current position, and only seven players overall have started every game (Manase Hopoi has started at three different D-line positions).
Rick Samek can be reached at RSAMEK1@COMCAST.NET