Unfortunately, we're not all Chip Kelly. We can't watch every single play for the Ducks opposition every single week. The first step I take in looking at the upcoming game is by spending some time over at cfbstats, to see just how our opponent has fared in the box score. So let's kick off the week by taking a look at the Washington Huskies.
First off, let's be honest, the Huskies are a much improved team. They sit at 3-4 (2-2 Pac-10), and have an energy that they have not had over the past few season. Though this energy makes them a trendy pick to some, they are still a team that is in the bottom 3rd of the Pac-10.
The first stat that sticks out is the poor showing of the Washington defense. While it may be covered up somewhat by a very good red zone defense, Washington is giving up an astounding 6.8 yards per play. In comparison, the only other Pac-10 team giving up over 6 ypp is WSU at 7 ypp. By contrast, Oregon is giving up a mere 3.9 ypp. Washington is simply being pushed around, giving up over 21 first downs per game. Meanwhile, they have given up explosion plays left and right, and are at the bottom of the Pac-10 in both rushing and passing explosion plays.
From what UW games I have seen, they simply do not have the athletic ability on defense to go head to head with the big boys of the Pac-10, and this is born out in the stat sheet.
But, there is a bright spot for the UW defense, and that is the red zone. If there has ever been a defense that exemplifies "bend but don't break," this is it. Washington beat USC and Arizona because of field goals (ok, and a bad call). They were in the Notre Dame game because of field goals. They beat Idaho by multiple scores because of field goals.
On the opposite side of the ball, Washington has has a good offense, and most importantly, has done an excellent job getting 3rd down conversions, and are converting at over 50%. Part of this is due to Jake Locker's threat as a runner, but he has also improved dramatically in the passing game, and is completing 63% of his passes on 3rd down, and the Huskies are doing a great job converting 3rd and long situations.
Overall offensively, it's the Jake Locker show. Chris Polk has been a solid back, but was has been held in check against decent rushing defenses. Locker has been the real deal, and has accounted for over 3/4 of the Huskies total yards. While Locker has slipped a bit in recent games, his running ability and improved accuracy allow the Huskies to be a threat on offense.
Looking at the stats, it's clear that Washington has done well because of red zone defense and 3rd down offense. Though pedestrian in other areas, when a team excels here, a lot of deficiencies can be covered up. I'll be looking for Oregon to come out strong in both areas. Oregon is allowing only 34% conversions on 3rd down, and is scoring TDs on 67% of their red zone trips. If they can continue, it will be a very long day for the Huskies.