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How We Stop: Oregon doesn't need to shut down washington's offense, only contain them

Obviously, I'm not one that likes to dish out superlatives to anything related to the university of washington.  That said, there is one undeniable truth that pains me.

washington's offense is really, really good.

uw's offense ranks ninth in the country in yards per play, at 6.6.  Only Stanford and Oregon rank higher in the conference at 7.2 each.  washington is balanced, a team that can gash you through the air or on the ground.  They average almost 36 points per game, and have stars everywhere on the offensive side of the fooball:  Chris Polk at RB, Keith Price at QB, Jermaine Kearse, Devin Aguilar, and Kaisen Williams at WR, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins at TE.  Every player I just mentioned will be playing on Sundays at some point in the near future.

Oregon isn't going to stop the husky offense.  That said, the thing you have to feel good about as a Duck fan is that Oregon doesn't really have to.  Oregon's offense is better than washington's, yes, but the key to the game is that Oregon defense is good while washington's is one of the worst in the country.

Oregon gives up 4.8 yards per play.  Washington 6.0.  Oregon doesn't have to shut the huskies.  They only have to get enough stops and hold them to 3 enough times to outscore them. 

This is the most competent offense Oregon has faced all season, and there are many scenarios in which the Ducks could lose this game.  People have pointed to the pass defense against Washington State, but having Anthony Gildon back really makes me feel good about that aspect of the defense.

There are a couple of things that I want to key in on:

The first is the short to intermediate passing game for washington.  Austin Seferian-Jenkins is among the best tight ends in the country, and Chris Polk is very good at catching the ball out of the backfield.  Josh Kaddu, Michael Clay, and Boseko Lokombo have all been very good when asked to go into coverage, and they're going to have to do a lot of that game.  I think this will be the biggest key to limiting the washington passing game as Anthony Gildon and Terrance Mitchell have been fairly solid, and especially because uw doesn't have a great offensive line and Keith Price won't have all day to throw.  uw gives up two sacks a game, and some of the better defenses washington has played have really beaten Keith Price up. 

The other key is in the red zone.  uw converts red zone opportunities into touchdowns at the second highest clip in the conference.  Oregon is second best as turning those into field goals or turnovers.  washington moves the ball well and will get their opporunities in the red zone, but if Oregon can turn a fair amount of those into field goal attempts, it bodes well for the Ducks.  Field goals don't beat Oregon.

As was said above, uw averages 36 points per game.  If Oregon can contain the intermediate passing game and force uw into a few field goal attempts, Oregon has a great shot to hold them below that.  If they do, I don't feel good about the husky defense being able to hold down Oregon's offense.