Coaches blindsided by outcome

EUGENE, Ore. - Trips to Gainesville, trips to Columbia, Missouri were taken to watch winners at work, to sneak a peak at their winning ways. There was the countless hours of film study, as well as meticulous attention to tendencies and outcomes. But the UW coaches never forecasted a 44-10 whitewashing of their Huskies by No. 21 Oregon Saturday at Autzen Stadium. That was not in their game plan.

When it was over, you could have blown them over with a green and yellow feather. "The outcome was not one that we wanted it to be or anticipated," Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham said. "Coming in we felt like we had a chance and so we are disappointed. We just couldn't run the football."

And that was the plan; use their 332-pound per lineman average across the front to push and penetrate their way into Oregon territory, and then pummel and pulverize the smaller Ducks between the tackles.

"We knew they were going to load the box but we still felt we could knock them off the ball and run the football," Washington Offensive Coordinator Tim Lappano said after the game. "They (Oregon) brought the gas and bumped our guys and said we're going to have to win with our young guys outside. We weren't able to run the football in any way shape or form.

"We didn't see this coming."

Apparently the Ducks must have. Outside of a less-than-100 percent Jake Locker and his 57 yards on 16 carries, the Huskies' running backs accounted for 38 yards on 27 carries; the longest UW run outside of Locker was Brandon Johnson's eight-yard dash in the second quarter.

"I thought we played the run very well," said UO Head Coach Mike Bellotti said. "Most of their rushing yards came from (Jake) Locker scrambling out of the pocket on passing plays. Our defense is as advertised. They shut down the run, defended the pass, and we were able to pressure the quarterback."

The Huskies' two scoring drives were to plan; they ate up over 10 minutes of clock and overall Washington held an 11-minute advantage in time of possession. But the Ducks' longest scoring drive took only 2:50 seconds, and out of their seven scoring drives, four were under 1:24 in length. And one drive took 18 seconds. That was when Washington cornerback lost Mesphin Forrester during a no-huddle switch and left Jaison Williams all alone along the Oregon sideline, where he romped 48 yards for a score.

"You are playing an 'answers' offense, and they outanswered us in the second half," Washington Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell said. "I'm disappointed in myself. I think I can match it up better and coach it better during the game. I don't put it on anybody but myself."

Donatell took the blame for Oregon's second score - a 60-yard touchdown by Terence Scott on a screen that came wide open when the Ducks were able to suck Washington into a big mismatch. "That was on me," he said. "But they battled back after that point."

With the Ducks' Justin Roper out with a mild concussion near the end of the end of the first half, Donatell had to deal with two unknown quantities at quarterback, JC transfer Jeremiah Masoli and freshman Chris Harper. Masoli went 9-17 for 126 yards and two scores, and ran four times for 23 yards. Harper ran 12 times for 60 yards, including the Ducks' final score with less than a minute left in the game. Overall the two engineered an Oregon offense that scored 30 unanswered points.

"We weren't planning to playing Masoli as much as we did, but we did have a plan to play Chris Harper," Bellotti said. "I'm proud of them. They weren't perfect, but they made things happen."

"We had to adjust to guys we had never seen," Donatell said. "Give them credit. We laid out a plan and it didn't come out the way we wanted."

"We tried to take away their ability to run and cover the top but we just couldn't do it," added Willingham.

It was the Ducks that took away the Huskies' ability to run, forcing the Dawgs into down-and-distance situations that allowed Oregon to pin their ears back and blitz with a vengence. Overall they had three sacks and six tackles for loss against an offensive line that had 75 starts to its credit before Saturday night.

"It looked pretty stuffed up in there," Lappano said. "Then they pressured with a lot of blitz and made us get the ball out fast. We didn't have time to get things downfield. They left the middle of the field wide open. But we didn't have time. We had Flea (D'Andre Goodwin) open a couple of times for touchdowns, but we couldn't get him the ball. That was frustrating."

But it couldn't have been nearly as frustrating as watching a game plan likely nine months in the making fall apart like it did in the second half. The fourth quarter was where things were going to turn around for a Washington team that lost five games in 2007 after being either tied or ahead after three quarters. This year was supposed to mark a sea change; a reversal of misfortune.

Instead they surrendered 23 points to an Oregon team that was made to look like a professional franchise. They took what the Huskies gave them. They kept things simple for their quarterbacks. The passes were to the outside and short - yet were turned into monster gains. Chris Harper didn't throw one pass that counted in the final statistics.

But the numbers speak for themselves; 496 total yards, 5.8 yards per rush. 256 yards rushing, 240 yards passing. 6 of 13 third-down conversions. Washington tried to use the 3-3-5 stack with three safeties over the top. They tried a 4-3.

"It just didn't play out the way we wanted to," Donatell said.

Instead, the coaches are now left with the unenviable task of finding positives in a 34-point loss on the road so they can keep their players motivated. "We have to get better up front," Lappano said, matter-of-factly. "That's where some of our veterans are. And the young guys are going to keep coming. I like their competitiveness and we can build on that. We have to get 'em up, show them the good things that happened and build on that. We also need to get some of our older guys to step up and be more consistent."

What is yet to be seen is just how much of an impact this game will have on the Huskies' chances at putting together a successful season. "We're going to have to have an answer for this, because people are going to see this on film," Lappano said.


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