The only difference between Oregon's 661-yard attack, and the one California laid on them in 2003 (725 total yards) was that the Huskies at least gave the Ducks a competitive game for three quarters. And for one game, at least - the Huskies solved their third quarter woes - out-scoring UO 14-7 in that stanza.
But when Tyrone Willingham went for an onsides kick with 5:56 left and the Huskies down seven - it sent a clear message; he didn't think the defense would stop the Ducks.
He had 661 reasons to think that way.
"Time was starting to run out, and we were trying to get the upper hand. If all you are doing is chasing them, that's not a good position," Willingham said Saturday night.
As it turned out, Washington chased Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart all around Husky Stadium. The former Timberline Blazer ran for a career-high 251 yards on 32 carries. He had one negative carry the entire game. The 465 total rushing yards the Ducks amassed beat the previous high of 424 rushing yards by the 2004 UCLA Bruins.
Somehow, it felt worse.
1581 rushing yards in the last five games. 39 first downs by Oregon - a new Duck record. Anything UO QB Dennis Dixon wanted to do - he did.
"The first thing you look at is, is it schematic," Willingham said Saturday night when talking about the Ducks' offensive output - especially in the run game. "And I don't think it was schematic. That offense is going to stretch everyone. It stretched California. It's stretched everyone they've played.
"We knew we would be facing one heck of a football team, and especially on the offensive side of the ball."
And it felt like 60 of the 62 times they ran with the ball, it was just your basic sweep off the spread, what UW Defensive Coordinator Kent Baer called the 'boss' play.
"They do so much cutting, and you just can't simulate that, because you'd kill yourself if you got one of your guys hurt doing that in practice," Baer said. "And he (Stewart) is the best back in the league. He's got great vision, and I'm sure he ran with a little extra incentive tonight."
A lot of times, you will look at the teams' third-down conversion rate as an indicator of offensive success. But the Ducks were so efficient on first down, they rarely got to a crucial third-down situation.
So right now the Huskies - at 2-5 and 0-4 in conference - have the rest of their season neatly mapped out for them. To achieve their stated pre-season goal of winning a bowl game, they will have to win five of their final six games. "It's set," Willingham said. "That's the goal."
So based on what he saw on the field, would Willingham be looking hard at going full spread? "It's not that easy," he said. "A lot of people would love to do that, but you have to have the right people and the right execution.
"If Jonathan Stewart was added to the mix, yes."
And that will be about as close as you'll get to Willingham admitting that there's a talent discrepancy between the Huskies and basically every other team in the conference. "We knew they had an explosive offense and are averaging over 45 points a game," he added. "We didn't panic, and stayed with out game plan on offense and defense.
"We just have got to get a few more bullets in our gun."
Willingham lookin' for some ammo
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