On the season, the Huskies improved to 1-2 in late-night kickoff games, while also winning in the desert, which has been a tough task.
The Huskies were able to put it all together as all three phases of the game were in sync throughout most of the game.
Defensively, the Huskies had a superb game plan and they were able to disrupt Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate and their offense.
On offense, the running game produced another 200+ yard game, while the passing game created some explosive plays downfield.
After suffering a season opening loss to Auburn, the Ducks have rebounded with a five game winning streak and supreme confidence.
“It starts with good players,” Washington head coach Chris Petersen said in regards to why it’s hard to throw on Oregon’s defense.
Here are some keys to the game, the Huskies must do to put themselves in a good position to win this game…..
Embrace The Rivalry
The biggest game of the season every single year for the Huskies, is the Oregon Ducks. It is now the most hated rivalry for the Huskies, even surpassing the Apple Cup against the Washington State Cougars. Make no mistake…Washington doesn’t like Oregon and Oregon doesn’t like Washington. Embrace It! Last season, the Huskies lost a heartbreaker in Eugene, and the Husky players have not forgotten about that all offseason. One of the biggest reasons you recruit in-state players is because they fully understand the importance of the game every single year. Instead of just treating it like another game, as Washington head coach Chris Petersen says, they should do the exact opposite. Don’t downplay it! It’s a monumental game and a defining opportunity for the Petersen era.
Convert Red Zone Trips With Touchdowns
In what has been the hottest topic all season, and the most widely criticized, the Huskies must convert touchdowns on all of their red zone trips. The Oregon Ducks defense is elite, and they are currently holding opponents to 8.7 total points per game. With an offense like the Huskies, that has been sporadic on a weekly basis, they will need to put points up on the board to have a chance to win. The glaring stat that stands out about the Ducks defense, is they have held their opponents to 2 for 14 in red zone touchdown opportunities. That is crazy! Field goals will not cut it against Oregon this week, as they have a talented quarterback who can score points. It will be imperative for offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan to put his players in the best position possible to punch in touchdowns!
Force Oregon’s Offense To Settle For Field Goals
While the Oregon Ducks offense is converting 76% of its trips to the red zone, at 25 for 33, there is one area in which they haven’t been successful this season. Their field goal kicking has been less than perfect, and it could come back to haunt them in a tight game. Freshman placekicker Camden Lewis has only had 5 total field goal attempts on the entire season, of which he has only converted 2 of those, at a 40% average. In 3 of those 5 attempts, they have come from the 20-29 yard range, where he has only gone 1 for 3 in that close of a range. From the 40-49 yard range, he is 0 for 1. If the Huskies can bend but don’t break in the red zone and force the Ducks to kick field goals, then advantage Huskies. With the game on the line at hostile Husky Stadium, the pressure may prove too much!
Win The Special Teams Battle
The most improved position group on the team this season for the Huskies is the special teams unit. They are now considered a strength to the team as opposed to last season. It will be critical for this group to continue to play at a high level and make some big impact plays. Sophomore placekicker Peyton Henry, is perfect with 14 for 14 this season on field goals, and senior punter Joel Whitford has been outstanding, with pinning teams deep in their own territory. Somehow, the Huskies will need to win the field position battle with timely returns and turnovers, which could turn the momentum of the game. Giving the Husky offense some easy yardage is a huge way to settle down the offense and get them into rhythm. Points will come at a premium in this game.
Generate Explosive Plays Down The Field
Redshirt freshman running back Richard Newton is the Huskies red zone specialist and they likely will be without his services again this week. Oregon’s defense will sell out and try and stop the Huskies running game at all costs. The Ducks are holding teams to 107.5 rushing yards per game, at only 3.1 yards per carry. If Oregon wants to load the box against the Huskies, then taking some shots down the field and creating explosive plays will be crucial. Last week at Arizona, the Huskies made some big-time explosive plays in the second half, that really broke the game wide open. Keeping the Ducks defense off balance and guessing will be important to the success of the Husky offense. You brought quarterback Jacob Eason to Montlake because of his arm…Well…Let him fully unleash it!
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