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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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August 30, 2008 11:52 PM

Oregon post-game

Posted by Bob Condotta

As you might expect, a pretty somber UW contingent in the aftermath of this one.

Players and coaches alike said varying versions of "we didn't see this coming,'' --- offensive coordinator Tim Lappano saying exactly that. If this wasn't the worst possible scenario leaving here, it's pretty close, the only real silver lining being that the Huskies appeared to escape relatively unscathed physically.

But this was pretty ugly from start to finish other than the second quarter, which UW won 10-0. Even the long drive in that quarter, however, was mostly the result of Jake Locker improvising and not the result of anything established consistently.

Coaches and players said their biggest disappointment was that the team couldn't run the ball, something it figured would be a given this year with that veteran offensive line.

"We just couldn't run the football,'' said UW coach Tyrone Willingham.

UW rushed for just 95 yards on 43 carries, an average of 2.2 yards per carry worse than anything UW had a year ago. The Huskies were held under 100 yards rushing only once last season when they got 85 on 31 at Oregon State. Maybe the Huskies will miss Louis Rankin more than everyone thought. Or maybe the line just had an off day. But this wasn't thought to be an incredibly stellar Oregon defensive front, especially at the tackle spots, so there's nothing encouraging about that.

Defensively, UW played well for a while, though the score could have been worse at the half had Oregon not made a few self-inflicted errors (missing a short FG, for instance).

But eventually, the Huskies caved, and while Oregon scored a garbage TD late, I think the score's fairly indicative of how the game went --- the Ducks outgained UW 496-242 gaining more yards on the ground (256) than the Huskies had total. The total offense was lower than UW had at any point last year other than being held to 190 by USC, a better defense than this one.

Here are some quick grades on the game:

QUARTERBACK --- Jake Locker had a tough day statistically (12-28 for 103 yards and 57 yards rushing on 16 carries) but he also had zero help and despite what everyone is saying, can't be 100 percent considering the amount of time he missed during fall practice. So the view here is Locker deserves huge benefits of the doubt when it comes to judging his performance --- he didn't have time to throw, and didn't have a lot of open receivers to throw to. Ronnie Fouch looked good going 5-7 for 44 yards, but while that's encouraging, it has to be considered that Oregon wasn't exactly firing all its bullets at that point. GRADE --- B.

RUNNING BACKS --- Chris Polk's numbers look really bad --- 19 yards on 14 carries. But he also had little help, Lappano admitting that "it didn't look like there was anywhere to go.'' Lappano said the playbook was kept simple for Polk given that it was his first start, and on the road in a tough setting, one reason he mostly just got the ball up the middle. Given all of that, it's really hard to judge Polk a lot when he basically got hit the minute he got the ball every time. Brandon Johnson had nowhere to go, either, and the fullbacks were pretty much a non-factor other than short-yardage plays. Paul Homer dropped a pass in a key situation early. GRADE --- C-minus.

RECEIVERS --- What was feared might come to pass, did. The young receivers had trouble getting open against Oregon's veteran secondary and also dropped a few passes at inopportune times. This is one spot where judgment should maybe be tempered by the fact that it was probably unrealistic to expect any of these guys were going to turn in Reggie Williams-style debuts. The brightest spot was Kavario Middleton's 4-35, maybe the only thing in this game that was a positive for the offense. GRADE --- C-minus.

OFFENSIVE LINE --- The biggest disappointment in the game. The Huskies are hanging much of their hopes for this season on the veteran offensive line. But those vets looked overmatched today. "We thought we'd be able to knock them off the ball and run the football,'' Lappano said. Instead, UW never could do anything running, and the Ducks were also able to get pressure on Locker when he dropped into the pocket. GRADE --- D.

DEFENSIVE LINE --- Another spot where the Huskies figured to have issues heading into the game going with so much youth and inexperience. Again, grading some of these guys is like grading fifth-graders on a high school test. Alameda Ta'amu appeared to have the best night of the young guys with four tackles and Johnie Kirton, who didn't play much until the end, had three tackles and one for a loss, one of just three tackles for a loss for the Huskies. He also made a TD-saving tackle on the long punt return. GRADE --- C.

LINEBACKERS --- Mason Foster had a team-high 10 tackles and Donald Butler was next with six, but neither seemed to make much of an impact on the game, nor did any of the others. This unit needs to do a better job keeping relatively small gains from turning into bigger ones. GRADE --- C-minus.

SECONDARY --- The Huskies opened with a 3-3-5 look to begin the game, going with three safeties. It seemed to work a little bit but like the rest of the defense, the secondary eventually broke down. Quinton Richardson had the best day statistically with an interception that momentarily gave UW some momentum, and two pass breakups. But given Oregon's QB situation --- two guys playing the second half who were making their college debuts --- the defensive lapses look that much worse. GRADE --- D.

SPECIAL TEAMS --- Not a good day here, either, with a couple of shaky punts and some porous coverage and no returns of any note. GRADE --- D.

COACHING --- A 34-point loss to a team's biggest rival in the opening game of the season when the other team is playing the second half with a true freshman and a JC transfer QB pretty much speaks for itself. GRADE --- D.


--- Here's the game story with details.

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