As has become our tradition, there will be no Husky predictions for the game versus Oregon tomorrow. This is nothing more than a sidestep around an honest prediction, because none of us could truthfully pick Washington to win this game. When the Huskies regain their footing in this series, we will make predictions. For now, take our silence as acquiescence to the Ducks domination.
That’s not to say that the Huskies aren’t making some level of progress. I expect a closer game than we’ve seen recently, although that potentially still means a blowout. I think the improved speed and simplified scheme of the Husky defense, not to mention Justin Wilcox’s creativity, gives them a chance to limit Oregon in a way that would have been incomprehensible last season. The Husky offense is the danger here. While Oregon’s defense is not as physical and pounding as Stanford’s and LSU’s were, it is faster and near the same talent level. The Huskies must find a couple extra seconds for Keith Price to throw and running lanes for Bishop Sankey to fill.
While Oregon is undefeated and number two in the country, they are somewhat untested. They demolished Arizona, who is probably not much worse than UW, if at all, but Arizona is a much different team: offensively talented but still seeking identity, with a spotty defense. It’s unclear exactly what the Huskies are, still, but that’s also true of the Ducks. An incredibly soft out of conference schedule has left open the potential for a Duck squad waiting to be exposed. Their offensive line isn’t quite as dominant as usual, and LaMichael James’ departure has left them just a tiny bit short in the dependable playmaking department. Throw in a freshman quarterback who occasionally makes freshman mistakes, and there’s a chance of something happening here, but the chance is slim. Oregon is still fast and disciplined and coached by a genius.
It’s common for teams to play the Ducks tight for a half. The Cougars just did it, and the Dawgs have done it before. I hope to see more than that this time. If the Huskies can keep Oregon within arm’s reach into the fourth quarter, I’ll be happy. There are no moral victories, but sometimes an actual victory takes a few steps, and a competitive game throughout would be the first of those steps.