BY Art Thiel 11:15PM 10/08/2016

Thiel: Huskies end the shame with a shaming

The Huskies’ astonishing 70-21 rout of Oregon not only ended the 12-season losing streak, it ended coach Chris Petersen’s three-year trial of having to answer the same question from generations of Huskies fans.

John Ross, here against Stanford, had three touchdowns among his nine receptions Saturday in Eugene against the Ducks.  / Drew Selleers, Sportspreass Northwest

The game was different from the first score Saturday when Huskies QB Jake Browning was busted for taunting. That was as unexpected as manners from Donald Trump. The usually deferential Browning didn’t know it, but he was channeling thousands of Huskies fans, 12 years deep into their sorrows against the Oregon Ducks.

A rare glimpse of immodesty from Browning — pointing a finger in the face of a Ducks defender as he crossed the goal line — foreshadowed a national-class humiliation of the archest of Huskies rivals in once-forbidding Autzen Stadium crucible in Eugene.

The 70-21 win was so done so early that the final three quarters were weirdly absent of drama.

Browning afterward was foot-shuffling contrite about his exuberance.

“It’s the rivalry,” he said. “It’s not who I am or how I play . . .  I’m kind of embarrassed.”

No one among the purples will hold it against him. Indeed, in the annals of the quarterback position at UW, he had one of the greatest games in a pinnacle moment — a school-record six passing touchdowns and two more on the ground, plus 22 of 28 passing for 304 yards — to help end a most aggravating streak against a most aggravating opponent.

It also climaxed a three-year odyssey for coach Chris Petersen, who at his first press conference upon his arrival from Boise State was hit with the question: When are you going to beat the Ducks?

“I’m glad I don’t have to answer that question anymore,” he said. “You know how I am with questions. I don’t like them. I don’t have to answer that one any more.”

Ranked fifth with the only undefeated record in the Pac-12 Conference, Petersen doesn’t have to answer many questions, just accept handshakes, hugs and backslaps. In the three conference games, his team scored 35 points at Arizona, 44 against Stanford at Husky Stadium and a stupendous 70 in the Willamette Valley, a total that missed by two points the most ever scored on an Oregon team.

“This was the most important game of the year — because the next game always is,” Petersen said, offering a bit of a fake by starting with a suggestion that he treated this game as more important. He’ll never admit to it, but sequestering his players away from interviews in the run-up to the game was a small indication that he understood the importance of the outcome to generations of Huskies fans.

He had to create in his team an emotional peak in consecutive weeks against quality teams who had dominated Washington (Stanford had won nine of the previous 11 in the series). He did it masterfully. But it wasn’t a product of two weeks’ planning. Beating Stanford and Oregon was the culmination of a three-year grind that Petersen insisted upon since the first question about beating the Ducks.

“We felt this team coming last year,” he said. “We knew we were so young at so many critical positions, and this is a tough league. We would execute with precision on occasion, but not consistently.

“When you work harder than you’ve ever worked, we kept telling them it’s coming. From January on, these guys have been on a mission. Winter conditioning, spring ball, they’ve  done what we’ve asked them to do: Practice hard, stay focused and stay humble.”

As spectacular as were the pyrotechnics on offense, it may have been a defensive play that epitomized what Petersen was talking about. Ahead 21-0 in the second quarter, Washington was getting a strong push from the Ducks.

RB Royce Freeman, a 230-pounder likely to go high in the NFL draft in April, had gained 169 and 138 yards in the two previous victories over UW. He was at it again, rumbling for 22 yards down to the Huskies six-yard line.

But S JoJo McIntosh swept in and ripped the ball from Freeman. Teammate Keishawn Bierria recovered. Shortly thereafter, it was 28-0.

“Our guys have been so good at creating turnovers,” Petersen said, referring to UW leading the nation entering the game in takeaways (15) and turnover margin (plus 2.2). “Every coach preaches that. But we needed to create them — we’re not looking for (opponents) to give us anything. We needed to pop that ball out.

“These guys have taken that to heart. It’s awesome when they’re playing like that.”

Awesomeness began on the Ducks’ first scrimmage play. Oregon chose to give a true freshman, 6-6, 225-pound Justin Herbert, his first career start, benching fifth-year senior transfer Dakota Prukop.

The judgment went haywire immediately when Herbert tried a pass into a tight window and was picked by S Budda Baker, who returned the ball 15 yards to the Ducks 30. Washington scored three plays later on Browning’s finger-wagging one-yard run.

“Herbert is going to be a great player  — no question he has great tools,” Petersen said. “I think the pass was a little behind (the receiver) and one of our guys hit him and the ball popped. That’s a hard way to start.”

It stayed hard all game. Not only was defense overwhelming to Herbert and Freeman, the UW offense flashed weaponry reminiscent of the Chip Kelly-led Ducks, who could score fast and often with multiple players.

In the third quarter up 42-14, Washington scored on consecutive drives that took 1:17 and 1:35 to cover 145 yards. Classic Oregon football, only it was Washington doing it without the spread formations, by beating their foes at the line of scrimmage.

They did it without two offensive starters, WR Chico McClatcher at RG Shane Brostek, who were late scratches because of injuries.

The Huskies flashed depth to go with speed, power and tenacity and versatility. It’s Boise State all over, only with more talent.

They have proven it against their primary nemeses. Critics will say that neither Oregon nor Stanford,  which was clobbered at home 42-16 by Washington State Saturday, are what they were.

True. Nor is Washington.








    Jamon Dotson BABY! Did you see that 180 on the 5? OMG! I had to look up his bio and he’s a SOPHOMORE, who ran for SIXTY (60) TD’s in high school. So there’s this guy, Gaskin, Coleman, etc. Wow – has the UW backfield ever been this LOADED? I don’t believe so.
    Also, Browning’s two fades to Ross were NFL caliber, as was his catch at the back end zone line.
    What really impressed me was the quality of the tackling, there being no drops by the receivers and the O line blocking, Every unit on this team is well coached and has very good skill players. Each of the three sacks were on four man rushes!
    And of course, Browning is lights out – a UW record EIGHT TD’s – whoah!

    • art thiel

      Good point about the tackling. It’s been superb the last two games. That’s a credit to the coaching.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        I did see on many occasions where their ball handler would either go down early or run out of bounds rather than take hits from our defenders. Very telling.

    • HuskyFanPodcast

      They also have Sean McGrew who is redshirting. He was Gatorade player of the year in California and the top back out of California. Think Darren Sproles. Many of us thought he would play this year and perhaps be the #2 guy to Gaskin.

  • ljstonebraker

    The offensive and defensive lines were highly praised after the Stanford game. How did they do today? I am in the Philippines and am most fortunate to be able to hear the game on radio. Gawd I would love to see a replay!

    • 1coolguy

      They did very well, No sacks of Browning and the D line had 3 sacks. If you want to read the truth, pull up the Oregonian for their Duck articles. The fans are already jumping off their bandwagon.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        Ok I visited that site, and jeez all I see is Chip Chip Chip!! and Marcus Marcus Marcus Marcus!! And duck nation appears to be turning on each other. quite enjoyable.

    • art thiel

      Both fronts did very well both games. O-line was impressive for both run and pass pro.

  • Jamo57

    Order restored.

    • art thiel

      So we had chaos for 12 years?

      • Jamo57

        To quote Dr. Peter Venkman, “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”

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  • Effzee

    Wow. Now that’s what I’m used to: Owning the Ducks. We didn’t always put up 70 against them, but they were pretty much inert for most of my adult life. I love that Dawgs are doing what they are doing with and old-school offense. Gimmicks are gimmicks in this offense, just the way it should be. Trickeration is the frosting, but not the cake. Amazing what good O-Line play, and execution, can do for an Offensive Coordinator’s reputation, ain’t it? ;-) Impressive display of tackling and catching the ball yesterday, too. Again, wow. WOW! We’ve handily slayed the two biggest pre-season dragons on the schedule. It will be interesting to see how Coach keeps getting the team up. The way they are playing right now, it looks like Boise State, but at the top level. Unfortunately, if this keeps happening, Texas is going to throw a bajillion dollars at him. Lets hope he wants to retire in the NW. Go Dawgs!

    • art thiel

      I think this is a destination job for him. I’d never say never, but I think he thinks he can get it all done here.

      • Effzee

        That’s the premise I’m operating under too. My only fear is that Texas is so Texas, that they may just think they can come and Texas all over everything. Here, he can be a legend of the NW. There, he can be a national legend. Hopefully, restoring the Huskies to a top tier program is good enough for him.

        • Jamo57

          I think the Seattle “media frenzy” is about high as Petersen wants to go in that realm. I’ve never bought that Petersen would have gone to USC if they had offered him. And the Texas microscope would be unbearable for him. I’ve heard the Seattle media is generally tolerable relative to big markets and he seems to squirm at times before our scribes.

          • Eric K

            Exactly. He stayed at Boise State 10 years, he retires here.

          • Effzee

            Ah. Great points. Thanks!

          • art thiel

            Compared to Carroll, Petersen hasn’t gotten comfortable with the public part of the job. He’s wrapped tight, but not in a belligerent way like Leach.

  • rosetta_stoned

    That was as unexpected as manners from Donald Trump the truth from Hillary Clinton.

    See? I can put silly, hyper-partisan political shots in there, too.

    You’re a great writer, Art. Why do you consistently ruin your sports pieces with one-sided political hits?

    • Doug Johnson

      Uh, sorry stoned, but the statistics have been done. Trump lies way more regularly than Hillary, and way more blatantly. At least get your facts right before you make your political statements.

      • art thiel

        Well, now here w go, partisan arguing. My bad.

        • Doug Johnson

          My bad too. Couldn’t let that one go. I agree about your writing. Always entertaining (the best similes and metaphors) and informative. Thanks.

          • art thiel

            Thanks for the cheer amid the political grimness.

        • Jamo57

          That’s what’s wrong with the world today. Manners have become confused with partisan politics. ;-)

    • art thiel

      I believe the word you’re seeking is occasional, not consistently. And I remember a day when making fun of political foolishness was an acceptable part of pop culture.

  • ll9956

    I wonder why no one from the media asks the Oregon offensive line coach, Steve Greatwood, about the comment he made before the game: “We’ve had the upper hand and we intend to keep that for the next several years. The streak’s not going to end.”

    • art thiel

      Can’t ask what you can’t find.

      • ll9956

        The comment was reported in several publications, including the (you should pardon the expression) Seattle Times in an article by Adam June on October 3rd.

        • MrPrimeMinister

          I think he meant that not-so-greatwood was nowhere to be found after the game.

          • art thiel

            You are correct.

  • jafabian

    I’d like to see that picture of Jake taunting the Oregon player with the caption of “This one’s for Damon!” I was laughing when I realized the starters weren’t being pulled when they got to 50 and that the Dawgs were going to just bury the Ducks. Coach Pete is reminding me of Coach James every week. He’s humble, has a cool demeanor and is all business. At this point talking contract extension and the end of the season is a given. And to think this game was played in Eugene! I can’t wait for when it’s played on Montlake.