Coach's Corner

The Cougars weren't the only team to stagger to the end of the season. The Oregon Ducks tied the Cougars for losses in November when they dropped their third straight game against their rival, the Oregon State Beavers.

Arizona also beat Oregon the previous week and USC, a team that Washington played right to the finish, also thumped the Ducks 35-10 the week before that. That's 0-3 for the Quackers in the games following their dismantling of Washington 34-14 to begin the month of November.

What happened to the Ducks? They were right in the Rose Bowl race then *poof* - or maybe poop. They are limping into a bowl game. A bowl they might not even be in if they didn't pad their schedule with Portland State.

The Ducks had rearranged their schedule this year moving Stanford to their opener, Sept 2nd. (at home, of course) and thereby opening a spot the weekend right before they played the Huskies. They signed up PSU immediately for that slot and Portland State agreed because they needed the money. It gave Oregon the luxury of another sure win and with such a "breather" they could rest some bodies and really be ready for the Huskies. It worked beautifully on a Husky team that was no match on that particular day.

Unfortunately, the Huskies enjoyed no such thing as a "breather" much less a bye in the schedule and by the time the two teams met in Eugene (for the fourth straight time) the Dawgs were crippled with the injury bug to an already shallow team.

The Ducks loss to WSU had been the week before they played Portland State so having them on the schedule also helped the Ducks get well immediately. They properly tuned up for Washington with a 55-12 thrashing of a Division 1 AA opponent.

Oregon also successfully negotiated a bye right after they "sort of beat" Oklahoma and conveniently placed it right before they entered league play.

Another carefully considered and strategically designed move. With two weeks off the Ducks slaughtered ASU 48-13.

Now that, Husky fans, is scheduling. Soon to be former Oregon AD Bill Moss did these things on purpose, which is what you get when you have a football guy running your athletic department. They always consider everything related to that sport first because it is the major money maker.

Washington enjoyed this for years with Mike Lude.

All of that aside, the thing that is most disturbing to me was that Washington has not matched up well with the Ducks the last two years. On a day when the Dawgs couldn't run the ball themselves, they also couldn't stop the Ducks from running the ball. They were overmatched and even gave up a cheap score in the kicking game.

Still, the Huskies hung in the game and actually forced Oregon out of their passing game. They simply had no offense that day to keep the defense off the field.

The 20 point loss to Oregon was to be their biggest defeat of the season.

One of the real learning bonuses of the Ducks losing is the Huskies get to see how three teams in a row chose to defend and attack the Ducks. They have three films to analyze and see how to beat those ugly looking uniforms.

Like Oregon scheduling PSU, Arizona beat Stephen F Austin earlier this year - the F stands for football. ASU also opened their season beating 1-AA Northern Arizona and Oregon State opened theirs with Eastern Washington. Those wins have helped both teams' bowl eligibility from the very start.

Washington is pretty much locked into their own schedule for next year and it currently includes TWO undefeated teams in Ohio State and Boise State. It doesn't appear like the Huskies are receptive to playing after Thanksgiving or starting before the first week of September.

Consequently, don't look for any byes to appear or manipulations by Todd Turner. Washington is proud that they are one of only 8 Division 1 schools who have refused to play down to the 1AA level.

The answer is not in how to change scheduling but rather in how to attack the schedule. Washington will get 7 games at home next year and only 5 on the road (6 if you count that all elusive bowl game).

With Boise State, USC, Ohio State, California, Arizona and WSU all at home, that might be the best home schedule they Huskies have had in years. It's brutal but it would be a great time to get Husky Stadium rocking again.

The real plus for Husky fans is having 7 of 12 games and all the top teams in the conference coming into the Dawg House.

The down side is no scheduling breaks and no weeks off.

The mystery of the Duck attack has been solved. They actually lost 5 games this year and had a losing record in conference. They should have lost 6 had it not been for the Sooner debacle by Pac-10 officials. They may have looked good against the Huskies but that was a long time ago and with a little more emotion and intensity on their part, the Huskies just may solve this duckling puzzle.

Certainly, lack of emotion by the team was obvious against the Beavers, Ducks and Cardinal. In all three of those losses it appeared the Huskies were a little flat to open the games and even though their defense seemed ready in each, they essentially lacked any sustainable offense. Those three games were the obvious low points of this last season. The fact that two of those losses happened in Husky Stadium made it even worse. One would have to think that the returning players recognize this and when next season rolls around and they finally have a chance to play the Ducks in Husky Stadium, that they recognize the magnitude of the rivalry and bring their "A" game to the field.

That is precisely the point that Coach Willingham is trying to drive across to his players. You need to bring your "A" game every week. Each game is unto itself. You need to be consistent in your preparation and realize getting "up" for the games has to come from within the team itself. Next years' leadership needs to go to school on what happened over the 6 game losing streak and compare it to what they did differently to beat the Cougars.

This program will truly be back when they beat USC and consistently have winning seasons and go to bowl games. Until that happens, then beating the Ducks and just getting back to a bowl will just have to placate. Top Stories