Game Ball Goes To: Myles Gaskin
Gaskin continued to show why he is UW's de facto No. 1 tailback by averaging 8.6 yards per carry on 18 attempts for 155 yards and a TD. What's more, he had a remarkably steady and productive day; even if you exclude his 72-yard touchdown scamper, the true freshman still averaged 4.9 yards per carry. It certainly seems realistic to envision Gaskin's ability becoming the offense's focal point in the years to come as Washington's remarkably young offense continues to mature.
Who Stepped Up: Scott Lawyer, Ben Burr-Kirven and Elijah Qualls
A major storyline going into the first half was starting middle linebacker Azeem Victor's suspension due to a targeting penalty against USC, and the question of who would step up to fill his shoes to defend a Royce Freeman-led Oregon rushing attack was a major concern. Freeman came into Saturday's game averaging nearly seven yards per carry; after the first 30 minutes, he had gained just 51 yards on 11 carries. Responsible for that diminished stat line were two reserve linebackers, Scott Lawyer and Ben Burr-Kirven, who filled the role normally played by Victor without much of a noticeable drop-off in production, and nose tackle Elijah Qualls, who did a fantastic job of penetrating the offensive line and keeping the Ducks' linemen from generating much push.
Most important play: Bralon Addison's 87 yard kickoff return
When Myles Gaskin broke loose on a 72-yard touchdown run in the late third quarter to cut Oregon's lead to 10 points, he created a palpable sense that the Huskies would be in position to generate some late-game heroics and possibly pull out a victory. More specifically, he gave the hometown crowd a reason to get fired up and make their presence felt. Unfortunately, Bralon Addison sucked all of the air out of Husky Stadium when the Dawgs committed their first serious special teams gaffe of the entire season when they allowed Bralon Addison to return the ensuing kickoff 87 yards to the Washington 9-yard line. Though the Huskies were able to hold in the red zone and keep the Ducks off of the scoreboard when Aidan Schneider missed the 32-yard field goal attempt, the Ducks succeeded in taking the crowd out of the game at perhaps its most pivotal juncture.
Most Important Statistic: 30.2 (Vernon Adams' yards per attempt on third down in the first half)
One week after preventing USC from converting third downs on 12 of 13 tries, the Husky pass defense became Vernon Adams' personal sieve. In seven situations in which the Ducks attempted a pass on third down in the first half, the Huskies sacked Adams once and allowed five completions on six attempts for 181 yards and a touchdown. Washington's secondary was eaten alive when Adams escaped the pocket and displayed his mastery in conducting the scramble drill, and improving its players' performances in those situations will surely be a huge point of emphasis for the Dawgs in this week's practices.
Most Encouraging Takeaway: Defense showing its depth in Azeem Victor's absence
Even playing without its MVP for the first 30 minutes, Washington's defense played well against the run by relying on starters such as Elijah Qualls, Tani Tupou, Travis Feeney and Keishawn Bierria to pull their weight while backups Scott Lawyer and Ben Burr-Kirven played assignment-sound football and didn't make egregious mistakes. That may sound like I'm damning the backups with faint praise, but against a team like Oregon that feasts on the miscues of individual players, it's a compliment of the highest order. Those meaningful reps will take on even greater significance next year, when the Huskies will need to replace players like Tupou, Feeney and Cory Littleton.
Biggest Source of Frustration: UW's inability to execute the hurry-up offense in the fourth quarter
Browning's three-yard touchdown strike to Mickens has the Huskies within six. Get to a TV and turn it to ESPN2. http://t.co/WNS7kFWOK5— UW Football (@UW_Football) October 18, 2015
Jake Browning's touchdown pass to Jaydon Mickens makes for a pretty highlight, but what doesn't look nearly attractive is this: Down 13 points and needing to score two touchdowns with 8:57 left on the clock, Chris Petersen and Jonathan Smith's offense took over at Washington's 29 yard line and proceeded to chew up 5:22 of game time and one of Washington's two precious remaining timeouts when the players were confused as to which personnel grouping was to be on the field. Furthermore, according to Christian Caple, the Huskies allowed the play clock to run under 20 seconds on nine plays in which the game clock continued to run, and allowed it to go as low as 11 seconds on four of those plays. That inability to execute quickly, and especially the burned timeout, is a direct reflection on the team's coaches.