It's over and the Huskies don't play the Ducks again for another year - This was a terrible match-up for the Huskies going in for so many reasons, Oregon got completely healthy at just the right time and the current (and perpetual) Oregon regime simply has Washington figured out. This is my least favorite game of the season every season.
Wow. Where to start, I guess I will rank these in order of how frustrating they are.
3rd & 4th down defense - This was as bad as I have ever seen it. I think Oregon was 10/13 at one point on third and fourth downs where the Huskies had a shot to take them off the field, but their defense could never make a play. Oregon has a great offense, but if your calling card as a team is going to be defense and you are not going to beat teams by trading scores with them, you have to manufacture a way to get them off the field and the Huskies never did it once with the game at hand after the first drive.
Tackling (Or not tackling) - This was where it was obvious that the Huskies are in their head with the Ducks way too much. Strangely, the only player the Huskies actually seemed to have a grip on taking down was Marcus Mariota as they struggled to get any Oregon player down on the first try all game whether it be Royce Freeman (A very good young player that they made look unstoppable) or Oregon's third-string back Kenny Bassett. It seems that once the Huskies play the Ducks, their ability to tackle flies out the window.
Dropped interceptions - I texted a friend "game over" as soon as John Timu dropped a pick six on the second play of the game. I thought I might have been overreacting, but apparently I wasn't. It was quickly apparent that the Huskies weren't going to make plays even when they are handed to them and it was confirmed later when Marcus Peters I believe dropped another interception that was thrown right to him. The Huskies will never win games like this, especially on the road, if they can't start taking advantage of this kind of stuff.
Offensive line - This unit is just plain broken. It should have been clear when they couldn't get push against Hawaii and Georgia State, but it just keeps being confirmed. The no Ben Riva excuse is too late and even though Oregon got Arik Armstead back, they are still a team that you should be able to at least run against a little bit.
Maybe most frustrating, this feels like year 10 of a very suspect Oregon defensive front looking like the 84 Bears when the Huskies are lining up against them.
Cyler Miles - Miles deserves part of the blame for the offensive line not being able to run block as the Ducks were stacking against the run heavily daring Miles to beat them deep, or anywhere for that matter, and he could not do it at all. It is very hard to do much on offense when defenses don't have the slightest fear of your quarterback - see what Stanford is going through right now. Miles' accuracy and ability to usually play it safe will be fine in games against lesser opponents where receivers can get wide open and the Husky defense can put the offense in good situations, but they aren't going to be competitive in games like this one unless there is a more dangerous option at quarterback.
Dropped passes - Like missed tackling, this is another unforced error that always seems to run rampant for the Huskies and confirms my belief that they are too in their head when they play Oregon. The Husky receivers did Miles no favors by dropping numerous balls, most painful was Jaydon Mickens' dropped touchdown that was a tough catch, but one you need to make to win big games.
Coaching - Seven games into the season and I simply have not seen anything from the staff to make me believe that Petersen and his staff are an upgrade from the previous staff. I was especially hoping that Petersen's tight ship would result in the team being more disciplined - less missed tackles and fewer dropped passes and fewer missed opportunities, but I haven't seen it.
This game specifically, Washington got outcoached. Oregon came in with a brilliant strategy on offense to negate Danny Shelton and executed it perfectly and likewise on defense with stacking against the run and forcing Washington to try and beat them downfield. Meanwhile, Washington seemed to focus heavily on limiting Mariota, and they actually had some success doing that, holding him to negative rushing yards and forcing what should have been two interceptions, but they didn't seem to adjust it became clear that the Ducks were going with a more traditional running attack.
I know it is much easier to execute game plans and look smart when you have the better team, but the reality of the situation right now is that a Husky staff has to find a way to work a little magic against the Ducks somehow someway because clearly the Ducks are never going to have an off game against Washington. In an overall bit of game planning and mindset, I would also love to hear the coaches stopping talking about having to play a "perfect game" against Oregon to beat them going forward. I think this mindset makes the players play way too tight and results in a lot of the other bads on this list. Arizona didn't play perfect when they beat Oregon (they had two really bad turnovers that probably cost them 14 points), neither has Stanford the past two years - they simply found advantages and exploited them.
Just a one-off complaint, but I also hated the fact that the Huskies didn't use some time outs before critical third and fourth downs when Oregon had the ball to give their defense some breathers and time to make a call. I get why you save them in the second half, but why not burn them in the first and give your defense a chance?
Injuries - This one isn't as frustrating as the others, because you can't really control it, but it is definitely bad. Another game without Ben Riva was once again a death sentence as he seems to be Washington's Jake Fisher, in that the unit falls off a cliff without him and during the game, the Husky offense became a ward. The Huskies pulled out of Eugene with only one healthy running back, who himself has already suffered a handful of knee injuries, a possibly concussed starting quarterback, an injury to their most-talented offensive linemen in Dexter Charles and a still uncertain status for Riva.
Back to those injuries... Will Miles, Lavon Coleman, Dwayne Washington, Dexter Charles and Ben Riva be available against Arizona State?
Can Washington ever beat Oregon again? Oregon is better than Washington right now. There is no way around it, but is that gap so large that it justifies a 20-point plus win for the Ducks every season? No. The Ducks have been played much better in recent history by Oregon State, Washington State, Cal and Arizona and the Huskies are 16-5 against these teams the past five years.
This group of Huskies are clearly snakebit against the Ducks and it is going to probably take a steady mix of players who are shellshocked by remembering facing earlier, better Oregon teams that have played absolutely perfect against them cycling out and forcing a little humanity out of the Ducks. This is why Timu's dropped pick six was such a killer. It was exactly what the Huskies needed to have happen and see to give them some hope. It would have been a bit like this.
Other than sheer odds in that Washington has to win again at some point, I think the hope lies in the ducks coming down to Earth a bit, and next year will be key. I hate the "When (Insert team) loses (Insert player/players) they will be beatable" because everyone has been doing that with the Ducks for years now and it hasn't panned out, but I think it holds a bit more water next year. Their coaching is still phenomenal and their scheme more valuable than any of their players, but outside of Freeman, they don't have a single young player that has stood out and every year they are removed from Chip Kelly is well... another year they are removed from Chip Kelly.
Bounce back? After a humiliating loss in which they racked up injuries, do the Huskies have it in them to turn around and beat a good team at home? How the Huskies respond Saturday against a very good-looking Arizona State team will be an indicator of Petersen's ability.
Realistic goal? Going into the season, I think most objective observers would have the Huskies at 5-2 at this point in the season, so the sky is far from falling in Seattle, but this is where it is going to start getting interesting. The rest of the teams on the schedule are a stew of teams that might look great one week, but not so great the next and I would have a hard time betting for or against the Huskies in every single game. With that in mind, what is a reasonable win total for the Huskies? Going into the season, I said 11, but that now seems lofty, but at the same time, not utterly impossible. Eight or nine seems much more reasonable now, but will that be enough to keep people happy? I don't know.