UW

Brock Huard’s keys for the No. 5 Huskies to end their 12-year losing streak vs Oregon

Oct 7, 2016, 7:00 AM
Myles Gaskin and the Washington run game will be a big part of the Huskies' game plan vs. Oregon. (...
Myles Gaskin and the Washington run game will be a big part of the Huskies' game plan vs. Oregon. (AP)
(AP)

No. 5 Washington (5-0 overall, 2-0 Pac-12) vs. Oregon (2-3, 0-2)

Where: Autzen Stadium (Eugene, Ore.)
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. Saturday
TV: FOX
Line: Washington by 9.

Washington at a glance: The Huskies are on a roll after last week’s gigantic 44-6 win over Stanford. They jumped five spots to No. 5 in the latest Associated Press poll and have now won eight straight games dating back to last season. Jake Browning is emerging as a star at quarterback, the defense has announced its presence on a national stage, and the duo of shifty Myles Gaskin and bruising Lavon Coleman is ensuring Washington can get a run game going no matter what kind of defense it is facing. Just two games into the Huskies’ Pac-12 season, every game is suddenly of the utmost importance as they’ve set their sights on a conference championship – and maybe more.

Oregon at a glance: When talking about the Ducks from a Huskies standpoint, you still have to start at the head-to-head rivalry. Oregon has won 12 straight games over Washington, which is a great cause of anguish for the UW fan base. Despite that, there are reasons the Dawgs come into the game favored by nine points, and the tailspin the Ducks are currently in is at the top of the list. Oregon has dropped three straight, including a 51-33 loss at Washington State last week in which the notoriously pass-heavy Cougars actually rushed for six touchdowns. The Ducks still have a potent offense, though, evidenced by the fact that they’ve scored at least 32 points in each game this season.

Brock Huard’s key No. 1 for UW: Exploit Oregon’s defense on the ground. “You better run the football right at Oregon. You don’t have to get cute, and real credit to Mike Leach and Wazzu, who never commit to running the football but did in their win over the Ducks last week. The Ducks will feed off the energy of their home field, there will be noise and communication challenges, but there should be no physical limitations for the Huskies to do what Wazzu did. That is to run right at the soft core of an Oregon defense that is beat up, inexperienced and nowhere near what it has been physically at the point of attack in recent years.”

Huard’s key No. 2: The UW defense has to travel. “I think the defense was a disappointment of Washington’s 35-28 overtime win at Arizona two weeks ago, and that will be a reminder this week. The Huskies already had a road trip and were pushed to the very brink, and they know how close they came to losing all of this – the No. 5 rating, the national attention, the success. If you are not on point defensively, Oregon will make you pay as it is a more dynamic team than Arizona. The Ducks have a plethora of running backs, they’ve got three talented wide receivers, they’ve got much more talent on the perimeter than Arizona, and Arizona ran for 300 yards on you. The Huskies are going to have to show that their defense can travel and can play as a unit on the road defensively the same way that they have been suffocating opponents at home.”

Huard’s key No. 3: Don’t let Oregon’s Charles Nelson take over the game on special teams. “I think the special teams phase of this game will come to life for the first time this season for Washington. That is where Oregon’s team speed really comes to play. Wide receiver Charles Nelson is their toughest guy, their warrior, and the last thing he wants is to be a senior on a team that lost four games in a row, got a coaching staff fired and let a streak of 12 straight wins over Washington get away. He is a dynamic special teams guy, and could be involved if the Ducks employ two-point plays, fake field goals or fake punts. In talking to Nebraska coach Mike Riley, whose Cornhuskers beat Oregon on Sept. 17, he said the Ducks are bold. They’re going to be bold, they’re going to be daring and they’ve got nothing to lose, so that phase of the game and all of the mechanics that go with it has to be incredibly sharp for Washington on the road.”

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Brock Huard’s keys for the No. 5 Huskies to end their 12-year losing streak vs Oregon