Pac-10 Analysis

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Which unit should shoulder the blame for Washington's loss to Stanford?

Two weeks ago, Washington held the USC juggernaut to 13 points in one of the most memorable collegiate football upsets of the last decade.

Seven days later, the Huskies gave up 34 points in a 20-point loss to Stanford.

At first glance, it seems that coach Steve Sarkisian should be focusing on his inconsistent defense as it prepares for the bulk of its conference slate.

But a bigger problem for Washington heading into its marquee matchup with Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., is its offense, which has averaged only 15 points in its first two Pac-10 games.

Sixteen points were enough for the Huskies to take down the Trojans in Seattle, but that epic victory wouldn't have occurred without the outstanding effort they received from their defense.

One week later, when Washington's defense wasn't as stingy, Stanford exposed what has been a futile offense for the last two weeks.

In their first two games of the season, the Huskies (2-2) averaged better than 30 points in a loss to LSU and a win over Idaho.

To be fair, they have definitely shown signs of greatness during this young season.

In his team's first victory, junior quarterback Jake Locker completed 17 of his 25 passing attempts on his way to racking up 253 yards and three touchdowns.

Against USC, Locker engineered the fourth-quarter drive that set up Eric Folk's game-winning field goal, and freshman wideout James Johnson emerged as a promising target.

Indeed, Washington has come a long way since last season, when it didn't win a single game and put more than 20 points on the scoreboard only twice.

But it'll take more than two touchdowns per week for the Huskies to stay alive in Pac-10 play.

-Jeff Goodman

Is Oregon really as good as it looked against the Bears last Saturday?

Yes. And no.

Going into the game against Cal, the Ducks had a laughable offense. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was booed at home-a serious achievement considering the loyalty of the Oregon fan base-in an effort that saw him complete just four of 16 pass attempts. Former golden boy Masoli was a cruel joke, and any team that could stop the run was able to completely stifle the Oregon attack.

So how did the Ducks score 42 points on the to-that-point lauded Cal defense?

Give coach Chip Kelly a hand. Mike Bellotti's youthful protege crafted a simple but stunningly effective game plan for his ailing offense-lots of short, high-percentage passes to boost Masoli's confidence and open up the run game.

On defense, the Ducks had it easy, as anyone who watched anything other than the first minute of last Saturday's game will tell you. You'd better hope you can hang a near-shutout on a team that never even reaches the red zone.

It was the perfect game for Oregon. But with that said, perfect games don't happen every Saturday and not every team the Ducks see in the coming weeks will lay down and die as thoroughly as the Bears did.

For all intents and purposes, Cal had neither an offensive nor a defensive line to speak of against Oregon. The Ducks could run, pass and stuff the Bears' offense all day, because of their manhandling of the lines.

Last Saturday was a glimpse of what Oregon is capable of on a perfect day against a sleepwalking opponent, not necessarily a decisive look at what the Ducks will bring to the table every game. Ideal situations are hard to come by, especially in conference play, so give it another few games before sending roses to Kelly and Co.

-Katie Dowd

Tags: PAC-10 FOOTBALL, WASHINGTON, OREGON


Contact Katie Dowd and Jeff Goodman at [email protected]



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