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The good, the bad & the unknown: Oregon

The Huskies showed signs of improvement against the Ducks but the end result was ugly.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports


Bishop Sankey - Sankey just keeps doing his thing and looking like the best running back not just in the conference, but in the country. He carried a heavy load again and provided the Husky offense with more than half of total yards that they again, including their two most explosive plays - both of which he punched in for touchdowns. On a day where it seemed like the Husky offense just couldn't do anything at times, he was the lone bright spot.

Rest of the schedule - The Huskies are done playing Stanford and Oregon for the year. They now have hit the part of their schedule where they will either be favored in each game, or only slight underdogs.

I might be in the minority here, but five years into the Sarkisian era, I think it's time to stop giving credit for things in losses like "not quitting," "punching back," or keeping it competitive going into the fourth quarter. The simple and sobering reality is that this was supposed to be Washington's best team in more than 10 years, they were at home and lost by more than 20 points and outside of Sankey, I can't think of a single player who specifically had a good game.


Turnovers - You simply give yourself no shot of beating an elite team if you don't win the turnover battle. Price's interception wasn't actually that horribly painful as it was third down and long at midfield, but Sankey's fumble was devastating as it was a tie game with the Huskies moving the ball down the field and it immediately led to a big play for Oregon. It was a killer and the Husky defense was never able to catch them up by creating a turnover as Oregon simply never made a big mistake.

The Offense - It seemed like same s*** different year for the Husky offense for much of the game Saturday as the offense, particularly the passing game failed to do anything down the field, turned the ball over and had Keith Price under pressure all day. The Ducks have an underrated unit that never gets the respect it deserved, but Sarkisian must find a way to someday move the ball against them or the Huskies will never even get close to beating Oregon. Not only do they simply not put up enough points or yards as they need to against the Ducks, the offense regularly can't move the ball at all and hangs their defense out to dry all day, wearing them out when they are playing well enough.

Return game - Once again, the Huskies were dreadful in the return and return defense game, and it makes no sense to me with how much the talent and speed has increased on this team in the past season or two. The kick coverage can't seem to stay in a lane and make a tackle when they have a chance and the Husky return team can't seem to get any kind of return without getting a penalty.

Even though they were really bad at times, I'm not going to fully call out the lack of pass rush and pass defense because of scheme and the Marcus Mariota problem. Mariota is so fast that rushing him unless you can collapse the entire pocket doesn't really work so I don't know if they were even trying to rush him too hard and there were a lot of times when the secondary held for five to six to seven seconds but fell apart because there was no pass rush. It's the kind of conundrum that only a player like Mariota when surrounded by a great offensive line and receivers can present.


Defensive gameplan - I love what Justin Wilcox has done at Washington and even though he has done little to nothing to slow down Oregon yet on paper, I feel like they have made progress. But I was unsure if their apparent defensive gameplan gave them a chance to win unless their offense was going to put up 60 points. I understand that Oregon has a reputation for gashing teams on the ground, but they have been much more dangerous through the air this season thus far: Marcus Mariota has been unflappable and with De'Anthony Thomas out (or at least thought limited going into the game), they had more talent at receiver in Josh Huff and Bralon Addison than running back in Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner. I hate second guessing strategies, but I think one that focuses on trying to stop the best player in the nation as opposed to young, unproven running backs is questionable. Especially when it looked exactly what Tennessee tried to do earlier in the season with the same results - wide open receivers everywhere.

Stars (outside of Sankey) - Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are painfully absent and the suspicion of another star's (Keith Price) inability to find them is starting to come into question. It seems as though Price is struggling to get the ball downfield and over-the-middle and that's a big reason why Williams and Seferian-Jenkins are making such small impacts. Not utilizing Williams and Seferian-Jenkins to their full potential might be fine against most opponents, but will they be able to beat good teams without those two heavily contributing, and will resentment build amongst the group if Price can't start finding them?

How good is this team - Once again, I might be in the minority here, but I'm still skeptical as to just how good this team is. They have beaten some middling teams convincingly, but narrowly lost to an overrated-looking Stanford team and lost by Oregon by more than 20, and this time at home. Honestly, I don't think that is worse than what they did against the two last season and I'm beginning to think that the offense has been considerably overrated so far in 2013. I think we will find out a lot about this team, and their offense when they hit the road to play Arizona State this week and hopefully erase a lesser known losing streak that has been going on for more than a decade now.