the Gekko File: Oregon

Something special is happening this weekend.  Something epic.  Something that blows the mind.  Something BIG. 

Husky Stadium is ending a terrific run.

Husky Stadium was christened on November 27, 1920 and suffered its first defeat in its first appearance when Dartmouth defeated the Sun Dodgers of Washington in a less than thrilling 28-7 mauling.  According to our friend Malamute, the original Husky Stadium seated 30,000 and was built on a budget of $600,000 funded by a student fund-raising drive.  Since then, the stadium has seen several face lifts and has been expanded to hold 72,500 people.  It is actually the 15th largest stadium among FBS schools with full-time facilities.  Nestled in between Mount Ranier to the East, the Puget Sound to the West and Lake Washington on its perimeter, Husky Stadium has been recognized by several different publications as among the most scenic football stadiums in America.  It has hosted several notable games and its grounds have been graced by some of the most accomplished players to have ever played CFB.  No fewer than 14 CFB Hall of Famers from UW have played on its hallowed turf and the legacy of Quarterback U was born in between its goalposts. 

There have been some amazing streaks that have been achieved over the years in Husky Stadium. The one that she is most proud of is a Pac 10 record of 27 straight winning seasons between 1977-2003.  No other Pac 12 team has sniffed that record.  Not USC.  Not UCLA.  Not Oregon.  With 961 games played, it is among the top 15 of all stadiums in terms of total games hosted and is one of the oldest stadiums in America.  This ole girl has born witness to 15 Pac 10 titles, 7 Rose Bowl Titles, and three National Titles as officially recognized in the NCAA's Record Book. She also set a record in 1992 when, at the first night game she ever hosted, ESPN measured the crowd noise at a remarkable 130 decibels.  To put that in perspective, a chainsaw right by your ear is 110 decibels.  In fact, 130 is often painful and likely to cause immediate hearing damage.

We've seen a lot of wonderful (and some not-so-wonderful) people and moments in Husky Stadium over the years.  Hugh McElhenny.  Bob Schleroedt.  Don Heinrich. Sonny Sixkiller.  Warren Moon.  Joe Steele.  Greg Lewis.  The Dawgfather.  Purple Reign. Steve Emtman.  Lincoln Kennedy.  Napolean Kaufman.  Todd Marinovich and "All I saw was purple".  1992 - the first night game.  Marques Tuiasosopo becoming the only player to post a 300/200 yard game in CFB history (albeit on the road)Curtis Williams and a life cut short.  Three NFL Hall of Famer's.  12-0.  0-12.  The Miracle on Montlake.  The Immaculate Interception. 

We've seen it all and then some.  Saturday will mark her last hurrah before she is to be redrawn, reworked and reborn.  How appropriate that her last guest will be the fanbase that has been the most emasculated by her over the years....the Oregon Duckfan.  More Gekko File after the jump.

 

  • Most of you already know that Washington has a 58-40-5 all time record against the Ducks.  That 18 game advantage is, obviously, huge and one that is unlikely to be overcome by the Ducks in the lifetimes of its current fanbase.  Husky Stadium has been particularly unkind to the Ducks.  The Huskies have played them 43 times in Husky Stadium to a record of 27-14-2.
  • The most famous football play in Oregon Duck history is the Kenny Wheaton pick of Damon Huard in a 1994 game at Husky Stadium.  "The Pick" signaled the renaissance of Oregon Duck football and is a point of pride among the Oregon faithful.  Ironically, 1994 is also the year that the Huskies posted one of the most unlikely upsets in the history of not just the program but all of College Football.  1994 is the year of the "Whammy in Miami" when Washington parlayed 25 points in the third quarter into a stunning victory over the #1 Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl to end the longest home winning streak in CFB history.  Whammy > the Pick
  • Eugene is the host city of the University of Oregon and it has a long history of wanting to be like Seattle.  In fact, Eugene has adopted the moniker as "the Emerald City".  Sound familiar?
  • Many of you wonder why Duck fans seem to suffer from endless bouts of paranoia and self-confidence issues.  Certainly, Duckers have been hyper sensitive about any slight that might appear to be coming from up North.  However, the extent of their schizophrenia does not end there.  The state flag of Oregon features a depiction of a beaver on its flip side.  It appears that Duckers have been suffering from Beaver Envy for some time.
  • Eugene was named after the veritable Eugene Skinner.  Before adopting the name "Eugene", the town was known as "Skinner's Mudhole".  While the name has changed, Eugene is still a hole.
  • Outside of a few Nike executives and several notable athletes, the University of Oregon has produced no alumni of note in the world of the arts, academics, national politics, or the sciences (I can't wait to hear Ducker response on this one...I bet they can't name any, either.  And JTLight doesn't count).
  • Interestingly, the great John Belushi film "Animal House" was filmed near the University of Oregon.  In fact, the famous "peep scene" from that film was actually filmed on location at one of the fraternity houses playing the role of a sorority house.  This is a natural for Ducks because, let's face it, their boys are just as pretty as their girls. 
  • The Oregon Duck mascot has had a long and storied history.  The first official mascot was named "Puddles".  He was named in honor of the evidence he'd leave behind every time the Huskies came to town.
  • The likeness of the Duck Mascot to Disney's Donald Duck may be unintentional but is, in fact, covered by a trademark agreement that was first entered into by the University and Disney in 1947 and reconstituted in 1973.  
  • Many of you are devotees of the Fulmer Cup which honors the programs of the country who post the best collective criminal records every year.  Oregon, as you might imagine, is always a strong competitor in the field for the Fulmer Cup.  For the past two seasons, they have finished 6th in the nation.  This year, they are gunning for the top spot.

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via assets.sbnation.com


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via assets.sbnation.com

  • The Hazelnut is the state nut of Oregon.  Chip Kelly is the state nutjob.  Pat Kikenny is the state ass. 

Oregon at Washington:  A Preview

Ignoring such streaks as the 17 of 20 games that UW took from Oregon between the 70's and 90's, Duck fans like to arbitrarily pick the number 7 to point out its dominance in football.  While I find their willingness to ignore their own history a sign of their overall intellectual dishonesty (as is, by the way, their failure to acknowledge their inability to parlay their regular season achievements into any kind of sustained post season success as meaningful) the streak that Oregon is carrying on against UW is significant and well-earned.  This streak has spanned several spawns of players and multiple coaching staffs.  It has happened to coincide with the darkest stretch in UW football history (a stretch that is a fraction of the time elapsed during Oregon's dark days, incidentally) but it cannot be denied.  They've simply owned UW since our Rose Bowl victory in 2001 (oh, sorry, did I say "Rose Bowl victory" in a write up about the Ducks.  No offense).

The Oregon offense is a thing of beauty.  As much of an ass as I think Man-Boobs Kelly is (and we can debate the details of this later), you cannot deny that the man is a marvel in how he coaches and prepares a team.  He has produced an offensive juggernaut that features the most unstoppable running attack that money can buy.  He has managed to get consistently great results out of this unit no matter what players he plugs into it - including true freshmen.  This year's offense has struggled with injuries and the breaking in of three very young offensive linemen and, yet, they keep rolling over the limited competition that they've been exposed to.  Darron Thomas is a great facilitator of the offense.  He's not the runner that Dennis Dixon was or the passer that Joey Harrington was, but he is a fantastic decision maker and he can certainly find the open guy in space to convert big plays.  I admire the way the young man plays the game.  Of course, his offensive production in the passing game is greatly inflated by the running attack featuring LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and Tra Carson.  These guys are deep, fast and good.  The O-Line is relatively young, but growing by leaps and bounds.  They are not a real physical group, but they are technically sound and they utilize their athleticism exceptionally well.  The WRs are the weak link in this equation, but their production is consistently boosted by the play of tiny Black Mamba and reliable TE David Paulson.

Defensively, Oregon is in a transitionary year.  This is a very young bunch of players, especially in the secondary and on the line.  What they lack in experience, they make up for in both depth and speed.  S John Boyett is my favorite player on the squad.  He's a heady guy who is less flash and just a good, sound football player.  The other big name in the backfield is Eddie Pleasant.  EP gets a lot of national attention, but (and I bet Duckers would agree), he is prone to mental mistakes and getting caught flat footed despite his upper classmen status.  The LB crew is anchored by perpetual thug Kiko Alonso and some bright, young talent on the flanks - including future beast Boseko Lokombo.  Like the LB crew, the DL is relatively young and lightning fast.  That said, this isn't a physical bunch.  Oregon's D-Line has been relatively ineffective in breaking down the pocket and the Ducks have had to rely on a steady stream of zone blitzing schemes to create pressure.  In fact, 14 of their 23 team sacks this year have been credited to LBs, S's and CB's. 

From a coaching standpoint, Oregon's staff is both innovative and aggressive.  Chip Kelly challenges every old assumption that's out there.  Onside kicks?  Sure.  Two point conversions?  Its an option every time.  Going for it on Fourth?  Yup.  Going for it on Fourth and long from my own territory?  Maybe/probably.  Other than exposing his players to excessive contact with some of his elaborate deceptions, there is very little to complain about with this coaching staff.  They have earned the respect that they have achieved on the field.  Off the field...meh.

Washington has been recruiting players for the past three years with beating Oregon in mind.  They have been trading size for speed at the LB and S positions in order to find players who can play better in space.  They have emphasized the importance of speed at the DE position with Oregon's spread attack in mind.  While these recruits are still young, they are gaining experience and should have their moments on Saturday.  Nick Holt will roll out a familiar "bend don't break" scheme in order to try to prevent the big play and to increase the opportunities for the smallish Duck players to either make a mistake or absorb punishing hits.  He will emphasize physicality and toughness with his D.

Offensively, the Huskies will pound Oregon's young D with the running game as long as they can keep the score close.  This is an important point.  UW's beefy O-Line has been very good in run blocking this year and they have a huge physical advantage against Oregon's front seven.  However, our O-Line is barely adequate in pass protection.  If this becomes a game with a significant deficit, our guys will be severely challenged by an Oregon D that loves to blitz and is fast as hell.  We've seen this scenario before - our inability to pass protect when playing from behind is the primary factor that has led to both the Stanford and Nebraska games breaking open this year.  As long as Chris Polk is moving the chains, Keith Price is going to have opportunities to make plays to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jermaine Kearse, Kasen Williams and Polk in the passing game. 

Prediction:  Oregon 42 - Washington 31

Even though this is probably the worst Oregon D that Washington has seen over the past few years or will see over the next few years, I don't see our boys as grown up enough to seriously slow down the Oregon offense.  We are still prone to assignment breakdowns and mental mistakes - especially at the OLB and DE positions.  Oregon turns mental mistakes into touchdowns like no team in college football.  I do expect the game to be much more physical than Oregon is counting on and I expect that one or two Oregon players will find themselves knocked out of the game before it is over (continuing the Husky tradition of taking out opposing players in just about every game so far this year).  I also expect that UW will continue to dominate in the red zone where, right now, they are second in the nation in turning red zone visits into TDs at 82% (compared to Oregon's 20th ranked red zone TD defense at 50%).  However, I predict that we'll fall behind by a couple of TDs by the third quarter and our offense, forced into throwing mode, will sputter and struggle to close the deficit. 

At the end of it, the calls for Nick Holt's head will increase.  Someone will complain that we didn't blitz enough (despite the fact that blitzing Oregon is somewhat futile). and Hawnk will type a cuss word at the end of the game thread.  Lorenzo will suffer through another bout of depression and Rollo will beat his dog.  BigGreenWreckingMachine, PPilot, and TennesseeQuackAttack will check in with tactful and respectful comments while some asshat will violate the trolling code (and, to their credit, the ATQ crew will self-regulate as they normally do).  Sark will stand tall at the podium and talk about personal accountability and the growth that comes from such defeats.  He will be gracious in defeat but he will also remind both Husky and Duck fans alike that no streak goes on forever and that the longer it goes, the better (or worse) it'll feel when it ends.

Other Predictions

- The weather is going to be an equalizer to some degree given that several of Oregon's young players - including #6 - have never played in any kind of inclement weather under such hostile visitor conditions.

- Chris Polk will rush for more yards but LMJ will have a better per carry average ... and the debate will continue

- Oregon fans who attended the game will check in at ATQ and complain that Washington fans a) farted on them, b) called their babies ugly, c) propositioned their cheerleaders, d) laughed at their injured players, e) faked injuries in the stands.  This is a standard routine for them.  Only "c" will actually be true

- Oregon fans will learn the following three names that most have not heard of before:  Kevin Smith, Sean Parker, Kasen Williams

- The Ducks will score at least one back-breaking defensive or special teams TD

- KirkD will predict that Oregon will win the intangibles advantage

- ASJ will shine.  So will Andrew Hudson.

- Darron Thomas will be removed from the game and replaced by a superior Bryan Bennett.  As has become their predictable, intolerant habit, Duck fans will blame John Canzano for trying to stir a QB controversy and the media for not giving them enough respect.

- Chip Kelly will do or say something dumb and Duck Fans - who have a bigger Chip Kelly blindspot then his own mother - will deny it ever happened ... and blame the media for trying to stir something up.

- The Ducks will have at least 5 plays of over 20 yards

- Some Oregon fan will cherry pick a line or two from this write up, post it over at ATQ, and feign offense while accusing me of a total lack of respect ... despite the bevy of compliments and admissions that I have made throughout this write-up

- Keith Price will have a solid outing and finish the week out with 26 TD passes and back in the top four in the national leaderboard (passing Kellen Moore, Andrew Luck and Tahj Boyd).

- UW will cover the spread.  Duck fans will blame the media

That's it folks.  What are your predictions for the last game at this Husky Stadium?

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