Grading the Game - Ducks edition

Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Grading the Huskies vs. Oregon

Another game vs. the Ducks, another loss by a significant margin. While many expected the Ducks to win, there was hope that the Huskies had closed the gap with Oregon - instead, the Dawgs trailed 21-0 in the 1st quarter and the game was never close. So, was it all bad, or were there positives to take away from this game? Let's take a look at the position groups and see:

QB: Keith Price has looked out of sorts all season against FBS opponents, and last night was no different. He missed some throws, was baited into a pick-6 and lost a fumble on a scramble. He clearly isn't having the kind of season he did last year, and the question is why? I think it's a combination of things: he lacks confidence in his pass protection and rushes his reads; his receivers (aside from Kasen and ASJ) have not provided him much help; and I think without Polk back there next to him, he's put too much pressure on himself to make things happen. I would also point out that he's faced 3 tough defenses in the last 4 games, and while his numbers overall last year were great, they suffered against good teams; I don't think he's as far off of last year's performance as it might look on paper. But he does need to step up his game if the Huskies are to survive this schedule and have a good year. Grade: C

RB: These guys were a bright spot; Bishop Sankey is really starting to come into his own and look like a guy you can win with. He didn't bust any big plays, but he was getting consistent yardage and ran with more authority than I've ever seen from him in his young career. He's not the War Daddy, but he showed a lot of heart and determination on that 3rd Q TD run. Kendyl Taylor also looked the part in the backfield, showing he can be a nice 2nd option back there to replace some of the things lost to the offense when Jesse Callier went down. Dezden Petty and Erich Wilson also showed well in garbage time, albeit against deep reserves for Oregon. Grade: A-

WR/TE: It's clear the Dawgs really miss James Johnson out there. Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are studs, but the team is really lacking a 3rd option right now. Drops continue to be a big problem (Kasen included), and guys weren't getting open enough - there were multiple times Price bought extra time with his feet, but still nobody was open downfield. Hartvigson didn't do much when ASJ went down, and hasn't really emerged as the Zach Ertz to ASJ's Toilolo as we had hoped. Grade: C-

OL: Considering the opponent, this was a terrific performance by this young group. Even before the game got out of hand, they were opening enough holes for the run game to move the chains, and they did well enough in pass coverage to keep Price from getting hit much. Price was sacked once and flushed multiple times, but this was a much better showing than they had vs. Stanford. I'm grading on the curve a bit on this one, but I think there's a lot of positives to take from this group moving forward, especially in the run game. Grade: A

DL: You're not going to slow down the high-octane Duck offense without really good play up front. The Huskies weren't up to the task, as they were gashed all night long by the Oregon running game. They couldn't control their gaps and the Duck backs were consistently 5+ yards downfield before a Husky defender got near them. They were able to flush Mariota a number of times, but lost contain and took bad angles and watched him gain big yardage. This is mostly a young group that should improve under Tosh's guidance, but they need to get a lot better if they want to start thinking about beating the Ducks. Grade: D

LB: The other half of the run defense equation - the DL can't fit all the gaps by themselves, and too often our guys were unable to fill their gaps and shed blocks quickly, and as a result the zone-read option was gaining good yardage all night long. They also too frequently were tentative or took bad angles in trying to contain Mariota's scrambles. I'll give this group credit for making tackles and limiting the explosive plays, but you're not going to stop a team when you consistently surrender 6+ yards a clip against your opponent's bread and butter play. On the plus side, I thought Travis Feeney again showed that he has a bright future. Grade: D+

CB: One one side, Desmond Trufant continued to show why he might just be the best CB in the conference - he was terrific in coverage and run support. The one negative for him - the PI call - was highly questionable. On the other side, Tre Watson was the guy who was caught asleep on the Duck's hurry-up play that left Keanon Lowe (a UW decommit) all alone in the end zone. Marcus Peters had a costly late hit penalty, though that call too was borderline. Oregon didn't need to pass a lot, but they were pretty efficient when they did so. Grade: C+

S: A mixed-bag for this group - Sean Parker was a tackling machine and Shaq Thompson showed off his terrific athleticism on that interception off the tipped pass by Trufant, and these guys helped to limit the explosive Duck plays; on the other hand, Colt Lyerla burned the group for multiple big plays. Grade: B-

Special teams: The Good: Kick coverage was terrific, our kickoff returns continue to set us up in good field position, we continue to show we have some nice tricks up our sleeve on fake punts, and Coons looks like he's settling in as a punter; the Bad: Pio Vatuvei fumbled away the fake punt after getting the first down (though it could be argued the play should have been whistled dead for forward progress); the Ugly: Marvin Hall making a terrible decision to not fair catch that first Duck punt and fumbled it away, giving a huge gift to a team that didn't need the help. Grade: C

Coaching: Tough to grade this one; on the one hand, I though Sark had a terrific gameplan on offense and has his best game of the year calling plays; on the other hand, the defense had a critical mental lapse, gifting Oregon 7 points in the 1st quarter, and overall didn't look any closer to being a unit that can even slow down the Duck offense. I didn't see the same creativity from Wilcox this week as I did vs. Stanford, and clearly what he was dialing up didn't work very well. Worse, the team as a whole continues to show a troubling pattern of following up an important win with a complete curb-stomping the next game. I'm also quite puzzled as to why Cory Littleton had his redshirt burned in game 5 - Josh Shirley played, so it clearly wasn't due to an injury. Due to a variety of reasons, this is still a young team, but they need to learn how to deal with adverse situations and not make mental mistakes, dumb penalties and unforced errors that make their jobs that much harder. On the plus side, I liked the way Sark stuck with the running game late and take that as a sign that he's working to instill that identity in the offense, that they are going to run the ball and be successful at it. Grade: C-

For another perspective, here's how Bob Condotta graded the Dawgs.

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