BY Art Thiel 10:48PM 10/18/2014

Thiel: Huskies’ Petersen: ‘Flat-out better than us’

The outcome was the same, only the names of some of the purple victims changed. Petersen’s success at Boise State against Oregon was not apparent Saturday in Eugene.

Jaydon Mickens lets a touchdown pass slip through his hands at the goal line in the first quarter Saturday night at Autzen Stadium. / Gary Breedlove, Sportspress Northwest

When Chris Petersen was pursuing the Washington coaching vacancy, his 2-0 mark at Boise State over Oregon glittered like a diamond on his resume. He got the job. Unfortunately for him, he discovered Saturday night in Eugene’s Autzen Stadium, Washington is no Boise State.

Despite his career accomplishments, Petersen experienced nothing different against Oregon than did his UW predecessors Steve Sarkisian, Tyrone Willingham and Keith Gilbertson. The Ducks were men, the Huskies were boys.

The 11th consecutive victory in the series was decided by the second quarter, but NCAA rules required completion of all four. After the tedious 45-20 outcome, Petersen was a master of only one thing — the obvious.

“They are flat-out better than us,” he said. “It was painful.”

After the Huskies forced a three-and-out on Oregon’s first possession and forged a 3-0 lead, the balsa-wood house fell in. The first of four touchdowns by freshman Royce Freeman was a thunderstrike of such simplicity that whatever myths harbored by the UW defense that it was competitive with Oregon were smashed.

On a third-and-eight at the Washington 37, Freeman, the latest in a long line of productive Oregon backs, ran a simple blast play straight up the middle and went untouched into the end zone. With potentially four NFL draftees on the Huskies defense, to not even touch Freeman was mortifying.

Even when the Huskies tackled, it did them no good. The Ducks’ next touchdown came from the UW 3 yard line when potential NFL No. 1 draftee QB Marcus Mariota was tackled running left on the option behind the line of scrimmage, yet somehow managed to flip the ball to Freeman, who went in again unmolested.

It was one of several head-shaking plays among the 49 Oregon ran off in the first half on the way to a 28-6 halftime lead.

“We didn’t come up big enough on defense to stop them,” Petersen said. “Someone’s got to swell up and get something done.”

If it wasn’t happening with the defense, it certainly wasn’t going to happen on offense, the least productive in the Pac-12 at 372 yards a game. The Huskies finished with 317 yards, but most of that came in the fourth quarter when reserves got some exercise with the outcome in hand.

In addition to two turnovers, including the first interception thrown by QB Cyler Miles this season, Huskies receivers had at least four drops, including one by receptions leader Jaydon Mickens at the goal line that forced UW to settle for a field goal.

“You have to make those plays against a team like this,” Petersen said. “It can get out of control quickly. (During the season) we had been capitalizing with turnovers. It’s hard enough to beat these guys playing a good game.”

The biggest failure was in the rushing game. Leading rusher Lavon Coleman managed 28 yards in 12 carries and developed a shoulder injury. Primary backup Dwayne Washington left the game with an injury after two carries for minus-8. The Huskies finished with 133 yards, inflated by garbage time.

“That’s the most disappointing thing,” Petersen said. “We’ve got to do a better job running the ball. The defense has its back to the wall, so we got to spark things to keep us alive. It starts and stops with the run game.”

Miles’ last play, a complete debacle that featured a 17-yard sack along with a lost fumble, also included injury. His head was smashed to the turf during the sack, and he was held out because of concussion-like symptoms.

That brought in redshirt freshman Troy Williams for his first collegiate action. He completed five of 10 passes for 37 yards, and ran five times for 28 yards, including a seven yard scramble for a touchdown in which he reversed his field and eluded several tacklers. Petersen had no definitive word on Miles, although he was animated on the sidelines.

There was no doubt about the diagnosis by anyone wearing purple: The massive annual headache was back, throbbing.



  • ReebHerb

    This is a tough league. UW is going to have problems with WSU. The results last night would have been the same if Sark was still here. Huskies are rebuilding while the league improves each year.

    Last night was painful for this Husky alum. However, the Ducks are fun to watch. They are very influential in the college football style of play.

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  • jafabian

    I hoped after their showing vs. Cal the Dawgs would at least be competitive but that wasn’t meant to be. Just the fact they wore the same uniforms that they wore during “The Pick” (I hate that call. I keep thinking “pick” as in picking your nose.) should have fired up the players but the focus wasn’t there. Too many dropped pass. Too many missed tackles. Too many woulda-shoulda-coulda’s.

    • Marc S

      I watched the game today and I don’t remember seeing many dropped passes unless you are talking about the ones the defense dropped that should have been picks. I thought the defense played ok, they were on the field too much in the first half. They could have tackled better and it looked like two guys filled the same gap on that first TD run, but overall I thought they showed up. Now just need to find a way to get off the field on 4th down.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Coach has got to be honest and thats refreshing. C.P. was a recruiting genius at Boise and in fairness judging this Oregon mess is really non applicable this year. In a couple of seasons we will see how his imprint will affect what the future holds in toppling the big giant Nike. The Sun Devils might be just as dangerous so there is little time to lament. I dont think C.P. wants two painful games in a row.

  • Marc S

    No excuse for this team having no offense. Lost Sankey a great RB, but they have others that should be able to do the job. Lost ASJ, but he wasn’t used that much last year and the offense this year doesn’t seem to want to use TEs. Lost Price, who I think is the biggest loss of all, he was a solid QB. Offensive line is so deep that a center on a preseason watch list isn’t good enough to get on the field. All the WRs returned, but can’t find a QB who can through the ball down field or bubble screens. Time to sit Miles and see what the other guys can do. If one can throw past the LOS then that would be an improvement. I think the UW upgraded at the HC position and downgraded at all the offensive coach positions. Had an opportunity to keep Kiesau or Tui (yes I know Peterson offered him a job as the TE coach, but that was a demotion to the job he had) who knew how to use this personnel. The guys he hand picked need to figure it out and take some of the pressure off the defense.