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Washington Huskies Football 2011: What We Learned in Week 9

Washington running back Chris Polk rushed for a season low of 80 yards against Oregon on November 5, 2011
Washington running back Chris Polk rushed for a season low of 80 yards against Oregon on November 5, 2011Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Brandon StewartContributor IINovember 6, 2011

The offense is what caused the Huskies' final loss inside of Husky Stadium.

The Oregon Ducks (8-1, 7-0) came away with their eighth straight victory against the Huskies and eighth straight on the year as they dominated the Washington Huskies (6-3, 5-2) 34-17 Saturday night.

An early interception thrown by quarterback Keith Price cost the Huskies more than they would have bargained for. The Ducks capitalized on the Huskies' mistake and got on the board early in the first quarter on a drive that covered 38 yards on three plays and ended with an 18-yard scamper by running back LaMichael James.

The Huskies could not get into the flow of things offensively all game, which was a bit of a shock, considering how well they have performed offensively all season. The Ducks dominated the line offensively and defensively, and the stats show as much.

The Huskies ran for a season low of 82 yards, which marks the first time all year the Huskies have failed to eclipse 100 yards on the ground. Keith Price was sacked six times, which also marks the most allowed sacks in a game all year by the Huskies.

The Ducks made some early mistakes in the game, including a fumble by quarterback Darron Thomas on the Ducks' first play of their second drive. The Huskies got three points out of that turnover, but against a team like the Ducks, you need seven in that situation.

The Huskies defense was not the weak link of the team for the first time all year. It was pretty bad timing for the offense to come out and perform badly when they were going to need to score a ton of points in order to come out with a victory.

The Huskies came within seven points of the Ducks early in the third quarter after a brilliant catch by freshman wide receiver Kasen Williams which put the Huskies within striking distance at 24-17.

Washington quarterback Keith Price was sacked for a season high six times against Oregon
Washington quarterback Keith Price was sacked for a season high six times against OregonOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

But after another quick score by the Ducks, the Huskies defense was in a bad situation, down 31-17 late in the third quarter.

The defense gave the offense countless opportunities to match the Ducks, but the offense continued to fail to move the ball up the field.

Now what have we learned after this loss?

The first question is, what gives?

When the defense held the Ducks to under 40 points after they had seven straight games of 40 or more points, what terrible timing for the offense to come out and play terribly in all phases.

The defense played well enough to give the offense a chance to win this game. They held the Ducks to under 385 total yards, which is far less than what fans were expecting.

For a team that was averaging over 35 points per game to come out and put up a dismal 17 on the scoreboard is pathetic.

The offensive line was simply outplayed by the Ducks defensive line. It seemed like every sack was by a defensive lineman, even on blitz packages. That goes to show that the offensive line was being pushed backwards all night.

Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had one reception for -6 yards against Oregon
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had one reception for -6 yards against OregonOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Another big question is, where has tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins been the past two weeks?

Two receptions for eight yards over the span of two weeks is a bit shocking for a physical specimen like Seferian-Jenkins.

As far as the other tight end, things went from good to bad.

After a touchdown reception from Keith Price, Michael Hartvigson hauled in a pass that looked like another first down for the Huskies, but Oregon defensive back Terrance Mitchell had other things on his mind. Mitchell not only stopped Hartvigson dead in his tracks, but he took the ball out of his hands in one fluid motion.

For a 6'1", 183-pound defensive back to out-muscle a 6'6", 254-pound tight end is depressing to see.

As for the good news, wide receiver Kasen Williams might have earned himself a starting role next week against USC after hauling in six receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown.

It's going to be tough to pull out a third straight victory against the Trojans in next week's matchup against USC.

The Trojans (7-2, 4-2) are coming off of a 42-17 blowout victory against Colorado. The Trojans were fueled to victory by quarterback Matt Barkley. The junior out of Newport Beach, Calif. threw for a career-high six touchdowns in the lopsided victory. He finished the night 25-of-39 for 318 yards and a lone interception to go along with his six touchdown passes.

Oregon running back LaMichael James rushed for a season high of 156 yards against the Huskies
Oregon running back LaMichael James rushed for a season high of 156 yards against the HuskiesOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Even after a performance like that, the Huskies defensive coordinator remains optimistic on going up against his former employers. After the game, Holt was asked about his upcoming road trip to Pasadena, "We’ll be OK against these guys. I’d rather play USC than Oregon, quite honestly."

Those are pretty strong words coming off a loss, but they could be justified.

The Huskies are coming off two straight victories against the Trojans, both by last-second field goals. But in those games, the defense has held their own against the Trojans. Granted, both of those defensive squads had NFL-caliber players, most notably being Mason Foster.

Offensive X-Factor: Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Seferian-Jenkins needs to be a part of the offensive game plan if the Huskies want to come out with a victory. We have seen what he is capable of doing and what he brings to the table with his tremendous size and athletic ability. The Huskies need to give him the ball more often.

Defensive X-Factor: Defensive backs. The Huskies will have their hands full this Saturday, as they will be going up against the best wide receiving crew they have seen all year. Robert Woods has been having a great sophomore campaign and leads the Pac-12 in nearly every receiving statistic. Players like Desmond Trufant, Gregory Ducre and Sean Parker had better come to play, and play hard, if they hope to contain Woods and the rest of the USC offense.

It might take another game-winning field goal if the Huskies want to win this game. Expect a shootout or a blowout.

Go Dawgs.

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