Huskies swamped (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)
Into a pretty strong wind, Jared Ballman promptly shanked the ball. The 6-yard punt, with the Washington Huskies down 14-0 in the second quarter, could have proven to be a death knell on the road. But when Matt Evenson missed a 31-yard field goal to put No. 21 Oregon up 17-0, it provided a window of hope.
The Huskies tried to jump through it. Battling back to only a four-point defecit at halftime, UW Head Coach Tyrone Willingham took the wind for the third quarter. And even though the wind didn't change direction, it might as well have. With starting quarterback Justin Roper out with a slight concussion, UO Head Coach Mike Bellotti went with Jeremiah Masoli and true freshman Chris Harper to run, run and run some more.
Oregon (1-0, 1-0) didn't quite amass the 465 yards they did against the Huskies last year with Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart, but they did control the ball well enough to score 30 unanswered second-half points and cruise to a 44-10 thrashing of Washington (0-1, 0-1) Saturday night in front of 58,778 at Autzen Stadium.
As the old cliche goes, the more things change, the more the stay the same. And with new Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell coming in with an NFL pedigree, big changes were expected to be made. They tried the 3-3-5 stack with three safeties over the top, which many teams are now using to combat the spread; they tried the straight 4-3 with their big freshmen defensive tackles. None of it worked, as the Huskies allowed 496 yards of total offense, an average of 6.9 yards per play. Those numbers aren't as gaudy as the ones Oregon put up last year, but they did it with two brand-new quarterbacks for much of the game.
Down 11 heading into the fourth quarter, the Ducks reeled off 23 points to put whatever hopes the Huskies had of coming back to bed quickly and quietly. They took advantage of running some no huddle when Washington wasn't expecting it, and Jaison Williams sprinted 48 yards uncovered for six with 11:02 left in the game. They continued to mix in some no huddle, and Harper punched it in from two yards out with 46 seconds left on the clock to finish out the scoring.
The win over the Huskies is the Ducks' fifth-straight, the first time that has happened in the 108-year history of the series. They are 6-2 in the series since 2000, their best eight-year stretch since 1928-1935, when they went 6-1-1.
Jeremiah Johnson went for a career-high 124 yards on 14 carries and two scores, while Terence Scott caught six passes for 117 yards, highlighted by a 60-yard screen pass for a touchdown in the first quarter. Defensively they were led by the 12 tackles of Spencer Paysinger. He also had a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. Jairus Byrd, Nick Reed and T.J. Ward added nine tackles each.
Washington was led by the rushing yards of Jake Locker. Locker was 12-for-28 passing for 103 yards. Freshman running back Chris Polk ran 14 times for 19 yards and D'Andre Goodwin caught eight passes for 67 yards. Ronnie Fouch came in with left in the game and completed 5 of 7 passes for 44 yards.
Defensively, the Huskies were led by the 10 tackles of Mason Foster. Donald Butler added six stops, and Mesphin Forrester, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Nate Williams had five apiece.
The Huskies had a nearly 11-minute time advantage over Oregon, but could only generate 242 yards of total offense, an average of 3.1 yards per play. The Ducks, despite six less plays, had rolled up over twice as much real estate. And it wasn't as if the Huskies didn't have some chances early, as the Ducks looked as unsettled as the visitors were. But in the end Washington could really never get out of their own end zone, starting at their own 20 for their first five possessions. It wasn't until Quinton Richardson picked off Roper and returned it to the Washington 40-yard line.
The Washington coaches travelled to Florida in the spring to get some ideas of how the Gator coaches used Tim Tebow, but Locker - playing on an injured hamstring - certainly wasn't himself. A lot of that had to do with Oregon's quickness on their defensive line, led by Will Tukuafu, who had two sacks, and Reed. They made it impossible for Washington's bigger, slower line to generate any forward progress or create any holes for their backs to wedge through.