The washington defense is one that strikes fear into no one. Let's take a look at the numbers, courtesy of Rob Moseley.
SCORING DEFENSE, 103, 33.38 ppg
TOTAL DEFENSE, 95, 430.38 ypg
YARDS PER PLAY DEFENSE, 96, 6.1 ypp
RUSH DEFENSE, 65, Oregon, 157.63 ypg
PASS DEFENSE, 117, 297.38 ypg
PASS EFFICIENCY DEFENSE, 73, 132.36 rating
SACKS, 74, 1.75 pg
THIRD-DOWN DEFENSE, 112, 50.46%
For a team that is 6-2, against a merely above average schedule, that is impressively terrible. And it's not just old statistics that condemn the Huskies. Advanced stats make them look as bad.
In F/+, the Huskies are the 94th ranked defense in the country. In S&P+ (which looks at the defense on the play-by-play basis), they are 67th, overall, though ranked 82nd in rushing defense. In FEI (which looks at how the defense performs on a drive-by-drive basis), the Huskies are ranked 87th.
Frankly, this defense does not worry me one bit. Oregon has crushed far superior defenses this season, including Arizona State, California, and yes, Nevada. Unfortunately, we've seen Oregon's offense (and specifically the offensive line) falter this season more than we would like, and that is a cause for concern.
Oregon's offensive line has overall, been pretty great this season. So far, the Ducks are outpacing the 2010 team in both rushing yards, and yards per carry. They are giving up fewer sacks.
But for all the success, they have looked really poor at times. In the first half against Washington State, they were manhandled. They were hit or miss against California, and didn't get any push against Arizona State. In all of these games, they've come back to set the tone, but the trend is worrying. While California and Arizona State can be excused, because they're actually good, Washington State is the real head scratcher. We can blame lack of energy, but there is simply no excuse for that level of performance against a defense that is even worse than the Uw defense.
Against a team like washington, the Ducks cannot afford this slow start. Washington State controlled the ball last week, but did not have the offensive firepower to take advantage of that control. Unfortunately, the Huskies have the strength on offense to make the most of the opportunities they are given. The Huskies will score at least one offensive touchdown if they run 50 plays in a half, as WSU did.
With LaMichael James apparently at 100%, and a healthier Darron Thomas, the Ducks have all the advantages in this matchup. They should be able to run the ball well, and washington's secondary isn't good enough to take advantage of Oregon's weakness at receiver. But if Oregon has any mental lapses, it will play right into the Uw offensive gameplan, and give the Huskies a shot to win the game. If Oregon comes out and executes their game plan, the Huskies won't stand a chance, and the Ducks will give Husky Stadium a fitting farewell.