Phil Caldwell

Sports Blogging With a Grin

Posts Tagged ‘UW vs Oregon

Washington Husky Fans Shouldn’t Be Disappointed Over Loss to Oregon Ducks

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Relax Husky fans!  Before you go jumping off the nearest bridge, think about how far this program has come in three short years!

Last year the Ducks put up 53 points to the paltry 16 the Huskies could manage.  A mere year later the Huskies could have, and probably should have, won the last game ever played at beloved Husky Stadium before the big renovation.

Had Keith Price not generously donated the ball to undeserving Duck cornerbacks, not once but twice, the Huskies could have left the field at halftime enjoying a two touchdown lead instead suffering the same at the hands of Oregon, bequeathed 14 easy points by driving a total of half a football field.

Washington completely out-played and out-classed Oregon in the first half, amassing 11 first downs to Oregon’s 6, with twice as many offensive plays.  What the stats could not show was a far more hungry squad of Husky upstarts, jacked up by the presence of the eyes of the undefeated national champ team of two decades earlier.

But in spite of the play inequity, the total yards were nearly equal.  Precisely the problem when playing the high-energy Ducks, especially when they donned the old Oakland Raider uniforms with the only school color being an out-of-place green “O” on silver helmets.

In the third quarter Oregon did what Oregon always seems to do.  They came out on the opening drive with quick sideline strikes of 15 to 20 yards using both sidelines, stretching the defense and setting it up for what would come next.  By the time the harried and panting Huskies caught their breath,  Kenjon Barner and LaMichael James were suddenly shooting up the center of the field with five straight healthy gains,  ended only by a nice juicy TD on 12 plays that consumed barely two and half minutes.

What had been a game the Huskies should have been winning, was suddenly 24-10 with a potential blowout looming.

But the Huskies didn’t pout.  They came screaming right back up the field with their own quick 9 play drive, to answer with their own impressive touchdown.  Keith Price threw a lofter on the left side of the end zone to five-star recruit Kaysen-Williams, for a Husky TD to bring it back to 24-17.

Williams, the all-world freshman recruited heavily by every team on the planet only last year, made the prettiest catch of the night and perhaps in his brief Husky career, stretching high to snag the pass with his big toes barely skimming the surface before they hit the sidelines.

Chris Polk was no slouch either, running up the middle from the shotgun formation on four straight draws with healthy gains on all but one.  Oregon suddenly looked like deer’s in headlights, with zero defensive answers, especially when the suddenly resurgent sold out Husky crowd of over 72,000 were going nuts and creating noise mayhem.

All week long there had been festivities and hoopala for what would be the last game ever played at Husky Stadium, where past greats had dwelled on Saturday afternoons since 1920.  In fact a full team of Husky greats were in the stands, intimidating both teams with the same glaring eyes that had mutilated every single opponent on the way to a national championship two decades prior.

Back when the current Dawgs were still urping up Mommy’s milk in their high chairs, these middle-aged guys with paunches and thinning hair had been wreaking havoc across the land, scoffing at east coast insistence that the also undefeated Miami Hurricanes would have had any chance of staying with them on the field.  But they never got the chance to prove it, since this was long before the BCS system of placing undefeated teams in bowl games.

And yet back to the future, the Huskies were having a hard time understanding how the Ducks could have a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter, given how silly UW was making them look.  But this is what the Ducks do to opponents, lead when they’re being dominated.

Keith Price missing receivers by sailing passes 10 yard over their heads did not help.  Passes with open receivers that looked to be sure touchdowns, ended up going the other way twice in the first half, and Price ran for his life in the onslaught of much quicker Duck defensive lineman.

Following the first Price debacle, Oregon needed just three plays to take the lead, starting from the Washington 38, which ended when LaMichael James scampered up the left side 18 yards for a disturbingly easy touchdown.

A quarter later it only took four plays starting at the UW 34, after Price duplicated his first quarter error in exactly the same way, lofting the ball high over the head of a bedaffled Jerome Kearse and into the hands of a by-himself Eddie Pleasant standing on Duck 17 yard line, which he promptly returned 49 yards.

Oregon didn’t need many offensive plays to lead by 14, but when the Huskies kept hanging around it was clear this game would have little similarity to the seven straight 20+ point blowouts that preceded it.

On the six plays where Price took what should have been normal time throwing the ball deep, patiently waiting for his receivers to run their routes, he was sacked badly.  A dozen other plays had Price rushing to throw the ball, which didn’t allow for feet to be set long enough for a stable foundation.  Hence the ball sailed high into wide open Ducks.

When Oregon started their drive from their own 30 yard line with 8:34 left in the third quarter, it was do or die time for the Huskies.  Trailing by only seven, if they didn’t stop Oregon on this drive the game would be lost for good.

They didn’t.

Oregon’s rickety quarterback Darron Thomas drilled David Paulso for 34 yards across the middle on the third play from scrimmage, and followed it with another to Josh Huff for 19 more yards.   Two running plays later it was 31-17, and Husky fans were muttering in their frigid seats at the old dilapidated stadium.  It was over.  UW knew it and the hated Ducks knew it, especially when the next Washington drive stalled at mid-field with a confused and ugly 4th and 4.

Oregon had the ball and a big lead with only 3:40 left in the third quarter.  But when a wide-open Daryle Hawkins dropped his third pass of the night at the five yard line, Oregon was forced to kick a field goal, which was certainly no gimmie considering how bad Duck kicker Alejandro Maldonado was.  In fact 35 yards was his limit, and he barely managed to sneak it over to cross bar to give the Ducks a 34-17 lead with a buck 49 left in the third.

Things really got hopeless when little-used Husky Michael Hartvigson was stripped by Terrance Mitchell at the Husky 32 yard line in just two plays, but were bailed out by a couple of knucklehead Duck penalties, and an ugly pathetic miss by Maldonado from 46 yards, short and off-line to the right.

Still, by now Oregon had slowed down the offense, and were burning large chunks of time by running the clock down to the bare bones with each play.  Sometimes Oregon would walk to the line and return to the huddle several times, just to drive everyone crazy with the trickery and confusion.

Never-used sophomore Nick Montana woke up the crowd with an impressive 53 yard strike to Kasen Williams down the right sideline to the Duck 27, but when a wide open Kevin Smith dropped a nice easy pass that hit him in the numbers as he stood alone in the end zone, the Husky faithful could tell it was not their night.

But it was the best game played against Oregon in a very long time, and if nothing else, the Ducks went away feeling a bit fortunate to have won so easily.  It certainly wasn’t because they played well.  The Ducks easily could have lost this game had the Huskies not been so sloppy and charitable, and by the time things wound down, Oregon could tell that this would be the last easy game for years to come.

The Huskies are still thin in only their third season since being terrible, have kept even with Oregon and the rest of the league with recruiting, and suddenly look like a team to be reckoned with starting in 2012.  Especially since another set of Sark recruits will come rolling into town.

And with the NCAA sniffing the crotches of devious Duck activity all winter long, how long can this go on?

Oregon’s core are still only juniors, but stars such as Darron Thomas and LaMichael James are likely to bolt for greener pastures in the NFL, hence the chances of this Duck bunch staying together after this year is looking grim.

So while clueless Oregon fans were mouthing off on their way to the parking lot tonight, failing to appreciate that all streaks eventually end, the rest of the Husky faithful are recognizing this game for what it was.  The Husky program is back and getting better each year.  We know it.  The Ducks know it even if they won’t admit it, and by this time next year the rest of the country will know it.

And with NCAA sanctions drifting in like eerily gray November clouds, this same Oregon squad will likely be moping come this time twelve months hence.  The mini era of the Ducks dominating the Dawgs has likely seen it’s last chapter, as the men of Montlake return to their 1991 roots and tradition!


Classless Oregon Ducks Victorious Over Vastly Superior University of Washington

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EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 6: Quarterback Keith Price #17 of the Washington Huskies is chased by defensive tackle Zac Clark #99 of the Oregon Ducks in the third quarter of the game at Autzen Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks won the game 53-16. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The Oregon Ducks and the University of Washington Huskies have a storied rivalry where fans of both schools bitterly detest fans of the other.

For years during the Don James era back in the 1980’s, it was disturbingly one-sided with the Huskies routinely pummeling the hapless Ducks while mocking their Disneyland uniforms, starting with a 54-0 rout in 1975.

Over the next 23 years things failed to improve for our weak-kneed feathered friends, as the University of Washington Huskies showed up year after year and beat this team senselessly.

It was an on-going slapdown.  Soon Duck fans were so incensed that they started beating up trees and shook their enraged fists at the unfairness of all of this in a drunken stupor.

Feathers have been a-twirl ever since, like a younger brother trying to live up to a Hall of Fame older brother.  Every accomplishment is tarnished by the knowledge that the bar is impossibly high and there is no way to even things out.

After all, it was and still is difficult to become a University of Washington Husky.  UW doesn’t just let any chimpanzee into this storied institution!  No sir, you gotta be able to think to be a Husky!

Vastly different than how things are at Oregon, a school desperate for enrollees, located in a far away village in central Oregon that confident and self-assured people avoid like the plague.

And really, who are we fooling here?  Even though the Ducks are rated No. 1 and have Phil Knight’s riches and wealth buying the team goodies, just like a 92-year-old dating hot former playboy bunny Anna Nicole Smith, they still get no respect from up north.  To this day, Husky faithful continue to scorn and ridicule their inferior rivals of the south.

Oregon hoped that by having five different helmets and hundreds of uniform combinations, with feathers painted over shoulder pads, this would bring the “coolness” factor that Huskies have always enjoyed.  But sadly all it brought was more howling and laughter from opposing fans delirious from the desperation it communicates.

Perhaps the reason why Duck fans are proud but still very insecure over their first-ever No. 1 college football ranking?  Yet it appears that even THIS has not resolved the ongoing feelings of inferiority and frustration that Duck fans feel being in the Husky shadow.

Anyways, enough of the fun chit-chat, let’s focus on today’s action:

Today’s game started off rather surprising with the first four series ending in a stalemate, wasting the first quarter which ended tied at zero.

Early in the second quarter, Oregon finally broke the impasse after a dropped pass that led to the Ducks first field goal of the game.

After the Huskies returned the kickoff to their own 33, however, referees found it necessary to warn both sides to knock off the trash talking and cheap shots, and try to stifle the amped-up emotions of the insecure Duck team.

Early in the second quarter the Huskies got their offense firing with several Chris Polk runs and their initial first down of the day to the Duck 42,  before Jake Locker‘s replacement Keith Price was sacked for a daunting second-and-19, which he quickly redeemed with a quick pass to wide receiver Devin Aguilar down to the Oregon 38.

After an underthrown ball to Jermaine Kearse, the Huskies had to settle for a 51-yard field goal attempt, which Erik Folk missed left.

Not to worry.  Oregon fumbled two plays later on the Husky 42,  Chris Polk scampered to the Oregon 38,  and Devin Aquilar dropped a certain first down on a quick slant.  This time, UW’s Erik Folk redeemed himself by drilling a 51 yard field goal to tie game at 3-3 with 8:41 left in the first half.

Oregon responded with their first sustained drive of the game to take an 11-3 lead after a quick-thinking Duck backup quarterback saw an opening in the Husky defense for a two-point conversion.

The Huskies offense, mostly stalled but still showing life, managed to drive to the Oregon 41 before finally settling for a punt, which Oregon’s sensational sophomore returner Cliff Harris returned to midfield.  UW walk-on punter Kiel Rass saved a sure touchdown with a fingertip shirt-grab tackle at mid field.

Oregon scored anyway two quick plays later to take an 18-3 lead with 1:37 left in the half, still less than the rout the Oregon faithful had been eagerly counting on.

After a 22-yard kickoff return of their own, the Huskies showed their own magic with a six-play drive to the Duck red zone before settling for a field goal, stalled from an ineligible receiver penalty that negated a pretty Price-to-Kearse touchdown.

All things said and done, the 3-5 Huskies felt pretty good to be only trailing the No. 1-rated Oregon Ducks 18-6 at the half.   It could have been, probably should have been, much closer.

The start of the second half saw Duck adjustments, evidenced by a quick Oregon screen pass for 62 yards.  But it was negated by a knucklehead Oregon personal foul, bringing the ball back to the Duck 13.

Two plays and one Husky off-sides later, Oregon QB Thomas was stripped of the ball by UW’s Mason Foster,  and the Huskies took over at the Duck 17-yard line.

A quick Keith Price to D’Andre Goodwin drifter later,  and the Huskies had scored, to trail by only five points 18-13 with 13:10 left in the third period.

I should mention that at this point in the game, helpful TV announcing pals reminded the audience for 85th time, that this was indeed the first game that true freshman QB Keith Price had started.

Sadly that would be as close as it would get, as the Ducks’ Cliff Harris returned the impending kickoff 80 yards with help from terrible Husky special team coverage, and Oregon quickly scored on a one play drive with a wide-open pass to Jeff Maehl for a 25-13 lead.

Remarkably the Huskies still had life, and stopped the Ducks on the next series.   Helped by an errant punt snap by the Ducks, and then drove the ball for a third Husky field goal to make it 25-16 with 6:14 left in the third quarter.

At the end of the third quarter,  fans were treated once again to some of the worst tackling ever exhibited on a college football field.  It left Oregon at the Husky 10 yard line but miraculously saved by a Duck holding call, which brought the ball back to the Ducks own 13-yard line.

No problem for the Ducks however, because nine plays later saw another Duck TD making it 32-16 with 3:10 left in the third period.

A quick three and out for the Huskies, a punt,  and Oregon jammed it down the dawg’s throats again on a 7 play drive to make it 39-16.

Surprisingly the Huskies hung around with a 10-play possession of their own,  aided by a couple of nasty penalties.  But even that wasn’t enough as the Huskies were forced to punt again.  And Harris once again returned it 79 yards, taking advantage of now traditional terrible Husky special teams play.

Four plays later with the ongoing no-huddle, the Ducks were sitting on the Husky 8-yard line.

At this point came an opportunity for the Oregon Ducks to demonstrate a key trait that winning coaches know. When to have class and shut it down.

But with a 39–16 lead and a scant 10 minutes left in the game, the Ducks continued with their hurry-up offense.  Instead of just kicking a field goal from the eight-yard line and graciously taking the victory, like a Don James coached team, they instead opted for a no huddle fourth-and-two running play.

Followed by another no-huddle running play, resulting in a Duck touchdown.


Long after the game was settled the Ducks still went with their starting QB and a hurry-up offense.  Dumb moves on many counts, least of which was the possibility for injury.

And although UW had long since stopped playing with intensity and rather satisfied to let things wind down, Oregon saw this as an opportunity to mislead sportswriters back east.  So they ran up the score to 53-16 with 4:34 left after another no huddle drive.


Finally on the last drive of the game they opted to go to a normal offense with actual huddles and all that time-consuming stuff.

But it was too late.  Husky fans across the globe were chuckling.


Final score: Ducks 53, Huskies 16.

(Hey kids! Don’t miss this week’s follow-up recap of Oregon vs Cal! )

Written by PhilCaldwell

November 6, 2010 at 12:03 pm