Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oregon closes out Husky Stadium with win over Huskies 34-17

By Kshell

The #6 Oregon Ducks(8-1,6-0) defeated the Washington Huskies(6-3,4-2) 34-17 in the final game at old Husky Stadium. The Ducks who rushed for 212 yards were led by LaMichael James who ran for 156 yards including a touchdown. The atmosphere was electric as the Huskies honored their 1991 National Championship team amongst others. Unfortunately, the Huskies couldn't suit up the 1991 team and their current team struggled offensively. For the first time all year Steve Sarkisian saw his team struggle which was highlighted by Keith Price throwing two interceptions in the opening half which set up 14 points for the Ducks. The Huskies battled the Ducks but once again came up well short of the victory against their rivals and against top tier opponents. For the Ducks this win sets up a Pac-10 showdown this week as they take on undefeated Stanford Cardinal.

The game started off terribly for the Huskies. After Keith Price completed a 13 yard pass to Chris Polk down the middle it was all downhill from there. Price two plays later threw an interception which was returned to the Huskies 38 yard line. Darron Thomas completed a pass for 13 yards to the Huskies 25 yard line. Then LaMichael James took over first rushing for seven yards to the Huskies 18 yard line. James then finished off the drive with an 18 yard touchdown run to give the Ducks an early 7-0 lead. On the following series the Huskies offense continued to be shutdown and went three and out. The Ducks would take over possession with the ball on their own 35 yard line.

That is when the Huskies caught a break. The Ducks Darron Thomas went back to pass but fumbled the ball. The Huskies recovered on the Ducks 32 yard line. Price immediately completed a 13 yard pass to Jermaine Kearse. After that the Huskies would go backwards and would have to settle on an Erik Folk 42 yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3. On the ensuing kickoff DeAnthony Thomas busted it 69 yards and was tackled from behind by Justin Glenn to the Huskies 21 yard line. The defense got tough and pushed the Ducks high powered offense backwards. The Ducks would have to settle on a 40 yard field goal to give them a 10-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Huskies were driving into Oregon territory after the teams had traded punts. The Huskies were on the Oregon 43 yard line when Price threw another costly interception which was returned 49 yards to the Huskies 34 yard line. James started the drive off with an eight yard run to the Huskies 26 yard line. James again ran for 16 yards to the Huskies 10 yard line. Darron Thomas kept it for six yards to set up second and goal from the four yard line. Thomas then hit David Paulson for the wide open four yard touchdown to give the Ducks a 17-3 lead. The Huskies offense continued to struggle on the next possession giving up another sack. While this time the defense three and outed the Ducks giving the offense the ball back at midfield with over six minutes left in the half.

The Huskies would go on a perfect drive which ate up all the clock so Oregon could respond. The drive began with four straight runs to Chris Polk which he gained 19 yards to set up a third and one from the Oregon 30. Price on a play action hit fullback Tim Tucker for a gain of five yards to move the chains. Once again Price was sacked for a loss of two but Polk would gain eight yards back setting up a crucial third and four. Price hit Jesse Callier in the flat for a gain of five yards to the Oregon 14 yard line. After a short run by Polk the Huskies once again went to the pass as Price connected with Kearse for a gain of nine yards to the Oregon three yard line. Sarkisian called for a fake to Polk and have Price keep it which appeared Price scored a touchdown but was ruled out at the one yard line. On the next play the Huskies faked the fullback dive to Polk as Price hit a wide open Michael Hartvigson for the one yard touchdown pass. The Ducks would drive down but would run out of time as they missed a field goal. The Huskies were only down 17-10 at halftime.

The Ducks began the second half with the ball first. After a penalty the Ducks were starting on their own 10 yard line as well. James began the drive with a 22 yard run  to the 32 yard line. Thomas completed a 12 yard pass then James rushed again for 16 yards to the Huskies 40 yard line. Thomas completed back to back passes to the Huskies 26 yard line. Facing a third and six from the Huskies 26 yard line Kenjon Barner rushed for eight yards to pick up the crucial first down. James ran for six yards to the Huskies 12 yard line setting up a third and four. Barner would again pick up the first down with a gain of eight yards. Facing a second and goal from the one yard line Barner would cap the drive with a touchdown to give the Ducks a 24-10 lead. The Ducks went on a 12 play drive for 90 yards to open up the second half to silent the Huskies crowd. The Huskies were once again trailing in the second half by 14 points to the powerful Ducks team who had crushed the Huskies by over 20 points the previous seven meetings. The third quarter was typically the Ducks big quarter as well so the Huskies offense had to respond to the score.

The Huskies knew the Ducks offense was about to wake up so they had to respond. After an incomplete pass from their own 25 yard line Polk ran for 14 yards to their own 39 yard line. Price completed a seven yard pass to Polk. Facing a third and four Price hit Polk again for six yards to the Ducks 49 yard line. True freshman Bishop Sankey then had the longest run of the game for 19 yards to the Ducks 30 yard line. On the next play Price would hit Devin Aguilar over the middle for a gain of 20 yards. The next play Price threw an out route in the back of the endzone to true freshman Kasen Williams. Williams went up and caught the ball while dragging his feet for the touchdown. After the review the play was confirmed Williams made the spectatular touchdown catch to pull the Huskies within 24-17. For Price he bounced back from two interceptions with two touchdowns giving him 25 touchdown passes on the season which puts him at three behind the school record. More importantly the Huskies answered the Ducks touchdown with a score of their own hoping to make this a game unlike the past seven years. The Huskies defense would have to make a key stop on the Ducks offense to truly make this a game.

The Ducks were facing a crucial third and nine from their own 31 yard line. The Huskies defense had a chance to three and out the Ducks after scoring a touchdown. That is when the Ducks made the play of the game when Thomas hit Paulson down the middle for a gain of 34 yards to the Huskies 35 yard line. Thomas completed a 19 yard pass to the Huskies 16 yard line. James ran for seven yards to the Huskies nine yard line. The Ducks called an option play as Darron Thomas pitched it to DeAnthony Thomas for the nine yard score giving the Ducks a 31-17 lead. The Huskies on the following drive after Price hit Aguilar for a gain of 14 yards were at midfield. Trailing by 14 points the Huskies were facing a fourth and four from the 49 yard line. That is when Price was under pressure tried to shovel pass to Polk but he was stopped well short. The Ducks then put the game away going on a nine play drive ending in a field goal putting them up 34-17. The Huskies fumbled on the following drive but the Ducks missed the field goal.

The Huskies had one last chance to make this a game in the fourth quarter. Price completed a pass to the fullback Tucker for a gain of seven yards to the 27 yard line. Price on the following play was sacked and was laying on the ground appearing to have hurt his non throwing shoulder. Nick Montana came into the game facing a third and 10 from the 20 yard line. Montana completed a long pass down the sideline to Kasen Williams for 53 yards down to the Oregon 27 yard line. Price then immediately came in for Montana and hit Kearse over the middle to see Kearse drop the ball. On third and 10 Price had Kevin Smith in the endzone wide open but Smith had the ball hit his number for the drop. On fourth down Price was rushed out of the pocket and threw an incomplete pass. From there on out the Ducks ran out the clock for the 34-17 victory over the Huskies.

The Ducks won the game 34-17. They were led by LaMichael James who ran for 156 yards(6.2 YPC) with a touchdown. Kenjon Barner ran for 41 yards(4.1 YPC) with a touchdown as well. Darron Thomas was 13-25 passing(52.0%) for 169 yards(6.8 YPA) with a touchdown. David Paulson had three receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown. For the Huskies their offense struggled behind Keith Price who was 24-35(68.6%) passing for 143 yards(4.1 YPA) with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Nick Montana in relief was 1-1 passing for 53 yards. The running game struggled as Chris Polk rushed for only 80 yards(3.3 YPC) but did have six receptions for 31 yards. Bishop Sankey had 21 yards rushing on two carries including the longest run for the Huskies. Another true freshman had a breakout game in Kasen Williams who had six receptions for 79 yards(13.2 YPC) with a touchdown. The receptions and yards were a career high for Williams. Aguilar was next in line with two receptions for 34 yards. Kearse was held to just 24 yards receiving on three receptions. Kevin Smith had just one reception for 14 yards. The Huskies offense was just shut down all game long.

All in all, the Huskies just aren't ready to beat top 10 teams like the Oregon Ducks. The Huskies in their last 13 games are 0-3 against top 10 ranked opponents but 10-0 against the rest. That shows the Huskies are a good program but not a great program. Steve Sarkisian has this program progessing pretty well which is taking time. The Ducks dominated the line of scrimmage and until the Huskies improve up front they aren't going to win these type of big games. In front of a great atmosphere under the lights Husky Stadium will be closed for a year. Even though the Huskies lost these seniors have helped change the program for the better. The Ducks are the class of the Pac-12 and until a team dethroans them they will remain on top.


- The atmosphere was pretty incredible pregame. Very rarely does legendary head coach Don James go to the games anymore. There was definately a who's who on the sidelines. You had several big names as all the Husky legends were at the game. James did the opening coin toss and the crowd gave him a thunderest standing ovation. James while at Washington went to six Rose Bowls, won four Rose Bowls, won an Orange Bowl and most importantly won a National Championship in 1991. James was also 10-4 in bowl games while at Washington when he coached the Huskies from 1975-1992. The 1991 team was honored as well as other Husky greats throughout the contest. It was nice seeing Don James and Jim Lambright at the game as well as many other great legends.

- I'm a big fan of the Huskies wearing the black uniforms.This was the first and probably only time I was disappointed though. Most Husky fans were hoping the Huskies would come out in the 1991 uniforms to honor the 1991 team.

This was also the final game in old Husky Stadium so I was hoping the Huskies would wear traditional uniforms. Like I said I'm not against wearing the black uniforms the Huskies were previously 3-0 all-time when wearing the black uniforms. I think in the Apple Cup wearing the black uniforms would be terrific as well especially if the Cougars are wearing their all grey's. Had the Huskies won this game the uniforms wouldn't be an issue though.

- The Huskies have to stop killing themselves with dropped passes. Last week in a win over the Arizona Wildcats the Huskies receivers dropped several passes including a touchdown and two more that went for interceptions.

This week Jermaine Kearse continued to drop multiple key passes. Devin Aguilar had some key drops as well. No drop was bigger than Kevin Smith who as you can see let the ball hit off his number for a wide open touchdown. Price had poor numbers but his receivers aren't helping him at all. The Huskies receivers are too talented to be dropping as many passes as they have been dropping the last two weeks. Hopefully going forward the dropped passes problem goes away or the Huskies might lose another game or two.

- The lone bright spot on offense was wide receiver Kasen Williams. Williams has had a struggling first season with the Huskies. Prior to two weeks ago Williams season high for yards receiving in a game was only 30 yards. In the last two weeks though Williams has played really well. Last week in a win over Arizona Williams had two receptions for 60 yards including a key 48 yard reception.

This week Williams had easily his best game in a Huskies uniform. He had six receptioins for 79 yards with a touchdown including a 53 yard reception. The last two weeks Williams has been part of the offense and has made long receptions. For the year now Williams has 20 receptions for 236 yards with three touchdowns in eight games. Williams came in as a heralded five star recruit but the Huskies receiving corp has been pretty loaded. That was nice to see Williams have a breakout game in a big game. Williams touchdown catch in the endzone was an incredible touchdown reception. He went up to grab the ball and held on for the tough catch. Williams is a future star and look for Sarkisian to feature him more in the next coming weeks especially if the other receivers are dropping passes.

-  Chris Polk for only the second time all year was held under 100 yards rushing and was also held out of the endzone. First time all year he was held under 100 rushing and without a touchdown in the same game. Polk's longest rush of the game was only 14 yards as the Ducks defensive line dominated the Huskies upfront.

Polk for being shut down still had 111 total yards offense. Polk also tied for the team lead in receptions with six as he had six receptions for 31 yards. On the year Polk has rushed for 1,096 yards(5.3 YPC) with nine touchdowns. He has also caught 24 passes for 280 yards with three touchdowns on the season. Polk has yet to have a game where he was held to under 100 yards of total offense. Polk had a rough game but showing why he is a good player still had a productive game when it was all said and done.

-  Keith Price had his worst game as a Husky and has appeared to have slowed down since starting off so hot. Price was sacked six times last game and threw two interceptions. Price has thrown five interceptions the last two weeks after throwing only five interceptions his first seven games. Price was checking off way too much this game throwing the ball 35 times yet only passing for 141 yards.

Price had two interceptions that led to 14 points for the Ducks. For the year Price is still having a great season completing 66.8% of his passes for 2,133 yards(7.8 YPA) with 25 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Price is only a sophomore quarterback so growing pains was bound to happen. He will have better days ahead of him and hopefully this was just one of those games. The receivers dropping all those passes are hurting his touchdowns and interceptions the last two weeks. With more help for his receivers and his offensive line Price can be comfortable and play "Keith Price" football once again.

In conclusion, this game was a tough loss but overall a great day. My friend Camden Rider went to high school with Jon Brockman so I had the pleasure of talking to Brockman prior to the game. You couldn't even tell he was an NBA player(besides his size) as he was just a low key person. As for the game itself the Huskies as a program will have better days. Sarkisian as a coach will have better days as will his quarterback Keith Price. The Huskies lost to a top 10 team and now must turn their focus onto USC. The Huskies are still a 6-3 football team who has a chance to be the third best team overall in the conference this week with a win over USC. The Huskies program is still going in the right direction while Husky Stadium is closed for over a year. I'm going to miss Husky Stadium quite a bit and I hope the Huskies open up their new temporary home Century Link with a victory in two weeks.

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