I can’t decide. Are Husky fans hypocrites or simply ignorant? While I was mulling it over I realized that I was willing to give them credit for the worst of the two conditions, but not both. (I should first bring you up to speed.) We have all heard them speak of how our #1 scoring offense is a “gimmick” and I listened to a Husky say it again on the radio before our game last week. Yet guess what the second play from scrimmage was for Washington? A Zone Read! While I understand that, “if you can’t beat them, then join them,” but it certainly surprised me after listening to the Washington fan who must not have known. Actually Washington ran the Zone Read similar to Oregon’s many times through the game as their QB is ideal for that style of offense. It is one of many surprises from the Washington game that pulls on me to write again about subjects passed over by media sources. Perhaps the Husky fans and the media have something in common? (They don’t see it?) I’ll contemplate it further……..
Did you see the new formations? We started right out in one of them on our first play which featured the RB behind the QB and to the right like a usual Inside Zone Read, but then we see a TE (Paulson) lined up alongside to the left of the QB! In real-time during the game I was unable to see what the TE was doing since it all goes so fast, but with TiVo Slow-Motion I watched the TE block the DE, and sometimes a LB. It’s pretty common for a TE to block those defenders, so I assume this gives the TE a different angle to attack and gives the defense a different look with a new formation. Then I smiled to myself as I realized that our Head Coach just added the equivalent of an old Fullback to our offense with this lineup. The end result was simply an Inside Zone Read from a different formation; later we ran play-action pass plays out of it as well in order to keep the defense guessing like we do with our base formations. Cool.
The surprises with formations continued through the game as I saw us line up with a double RB formation, but while the Triple Option starts with the RBs behind the QB—this time we saw them in OZR formation in front of the QB. Now I’m aware of a series that other teams use with this formation as one of the RBs becomes a lead blocker, but in this case it was a complete ruse as both ran out of the backfield into pass patterns! I was barely done shaking my head when I saw another unusual backfield formation of the TE being directly to the side of the QB with the RB back behind and in between them!? I call it an offset triangle formation, and it brought recollections to me of counter plays run by Oregon State fifteen years back when they operated the wishbone. I was surprised again as the play began and both RBs took off into pass patterns! I have been stunned at large number of downfield passing plays that have been introduced into the offense in the last three weeks. At times it looks like the wide variety of passes that a true passing Spread Offense would have, yet we use them for balancing the offense, and to accent the abilities of our QB. New running formations, and new passing formations! We love it!
I kept telling my guest from Texas to bring several layers of clothing and to have the full lineup of ponchos/rain pants ready. This was November in Oregon, and while usually the “winter rains” don’t begin for a week later—this year they came three weeks early and BIG TIME. That day though had temps going up to 60 degrees and the sun came out! Imagine my surprise as we peel off layers and watch the game in a polo shirt at Autzen in November! My Houston friend was highly amused with Don Essig’s motto about our weather during football games in our stadium. For that day—it was true!
The incompetence of Pac-10 Officials is beyond alarm—it is becoming dangerous for all teams involved. We won big, and did not have a major beef, but the mistakes made were so glaring that we all in the Pac-10 have a ton to lose. Something bad is going to happen from their blunders that will cost all conference members huge money before it’s over.
We all love Cliff Harris and what he has done for our defense, but the elephant in the room is all the interceptions he SHOULD have had going back to the Spring Game. It is not an exaggeration to say that he has had a pick missed in each of the games on average. His extraordinary cover and recovery skills gets him in position and then he misses a routine WR catch. If he spends time with the WRs in the offseason-the end result will be leading the nation in picks next year. For now,--I’ll take his “rough” abilities!
It was great to see Marvin Johnson make TWO pass deflections that saved Touchdowns. You love to see a senior step up and help the team, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much the additional playing time he’s got due to the platooning has helped his game. It’s fun to see the same type of growth occurring with RFr Taylor Hart. He’s getting better at shedding blocks and catching RBs in open space. In the Washington game he overwhelmed an OG and as he was falling he snagged the legs of the QB for a sack! He and Dion Jordan not only got TFLs in this game, but the improvement in their performance from the expanded playing time is becoming evident. Good for them!
There is no doubt that our explosion as an offense is due to Darron Thomas and his downfield passing abilities. It is that element of the offense that will defeat our opponent in the bowl game later—but there still are some areas that need polish. I noted that his Zone Read mesh fakes for play action passes in the USC game were incredible, but they turned lame in the Washington game at times. He is also becoming too predictable in the center snap. He claps, and then plunges his right shoulder downward, and then everyone on both sides of the ball knows it’s coming a second later. That makes it too easy for LBs with their blitzes, and for the DL to time their push. I hoping these areas will be cleaned up as we enter the clutch part of our schedule.
Darron still has some things to learn in the passing game. While it was exciting to have a player like Maehl featured by the media after the USC game and showing WR recruits how we throw the ball downfield---DT was a little too focused upon him. I was appalled during the Trojan game at how many times Thomas was trying to force the ball to Jeff when Davis was wide open on the side. Or another forced pass between three Trojan defenders when Paulson was open further downfield. I can’t say I blame him wanting to throw the Maehl, but those two and Tuinei were available for big plays often because of how good Jeff was at attracting coverage. In the Washington game we saw DT miss a few too many open TDs as well as not see open WRs downfield. The bad news is while he’s good—he has a ways to go in the passing game. The good news is—while he’s good, he has a ways to go in the passing game. He is a coach’s dream with his current production, and yet huge upside remaining. All these errors while being a soph and leading our team to averaging 53 points per game? I know. We gotta count our blessings!
There have concerns about the Offensive Line building the same depth that the Defensive line is accomplishing, and I’m seeing some significant progress. I’ve noticed Ramsen Golpashin playing at Right Guard a TON the last three games, and he’s made blocks that have helped spring us for touchdowns. This last game I watched him do some good things, and he seems to coordinate well with the other O-Linemen. If the rumor is true about York moving over to center next year, (which I love because he has the smarts and athleticism to do it well) then we could have Golpashin and Cody at guards, York at center, with Weems and Asper at tackles. Cool! We could have an experienced and talented group carving holes and protecting DT next year just fine! A very pleasant thought-----
The Washington Marching Band has always done well in their performances in Eugene, despite their puzzling unsportsmanlike set of five notes that they play to taunt the opponent when something goes wrong. In the past it surprised me that such a proud band would resort to such childish stuff—but it IS the Huskies. This year I was watching them at halftime thinking that they would not have many more opportunities for taunting in the second half. My eyes scan the band, see the usual baton twirler in a satin-like dress, and then eyes are pulled to another baton in the air and as I watch it being caught—and I can scarcely believe my eyes. It was a MALE Baton Twirler! Holy Crap. Is that gay? I watch him twirling with ANOTHER big male as they poof out their hips while working their hands. Wow. Is this the epitome of diversity at Washington? I then began to have questions about it all; what do they write in the ads for tryouts? I began to picture a Male Baton Twirler audition—and then quickly erased that visual image from my mind. Yikes.
Bow down to a male baton twirler? I think I’ll stick to my beloved Ducks!