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Washington vs. Oregon: X's and O's by Dose

Every week we will be breaking down a few plays from the previous week's game. This week we will be taking a look at how the Ducks were able to keep drives alive and win their 11th consecutive game against Washington.

Steve Dykes

Last Saturday the Oregon Ducks defeated the Washington Huskies for the eleventh straight year.

What a sentence. It has officially been 4,007 days since Washington beat Oregon, a streak that was fairly easily extended by the score of 45-20. Oregon has continued to get healthy and had made strides in the right direction both offensively and defensively, and the loss to Arizona a few weeks ago seems like a fleeting memory. The Ducks are once again in the driver seat of the Pac-12, and more than likely control their own fate in securing a College Playoff spot.

But let's get back to what matters right now - how Oregon beat the Huskies and kept #LastTimeUWbeatUO tweets alive for another year.

Marcus Mariota 18-yard pass to Darren Carrington for 1st down

After a quick first two possessions from Oregon resulting in a touchdown and a punt, the Ducks did something we rarely see them do - chew up some clock and stay on the field for a prolonged period of time. The first of these drives was a 17 play, 81 yard drive that saw the Ducks offense stay on the field for over six minutes, otherwise known as an eternity in Oregon offense time. The drive featured three conversions on 3rd down, with the last one being a pass to Darren Carrington.

Oregon runs matching route patterns on either side of the field with the wide receiver running a post towards the middle of the field, and the slot receiver running outs to the sidelines. Washington only rushes three defenders and drops into a 2-deep safety zone coverage.

Carrington catch - UW

Mariota's initial look is to the short side of the field, where Devon Allen and Pharaoh Brown are his first and second option respectively. Neither are open, as the linebacker jumps Brown's route, and Allen hasn't created much separation from the corner.

You often hear about quarterbacks "going through their progressions." The phrase is probably overused, but that is exactly what Mariota does here. After realizing both his first two reads are covered, Mariota stays calm in the pocket and looks to the other side for his next reads. The Washington safety drops back too far, and Mariota has a big window to find Carrington for the first down.

Cyler Miles 2-yard screen pass to John Ross

After Royce Freeman's second touchdown gave Oregon a 14-6 lead, Cyler Miles and Washington took over and were looking to tie the game up. On a 2nd and 9 play, Washington went to a screen play that went for a long touchdown last week against Cal.

Oregon saw the play coming and shut it down.

This play from Washington is a delayed middle screen, where Ross fakes a route before cutting in for the pass. The Washington slot receiver makes the block on Ross's man, while two Huskies linemen attempt to get to the second level of the defense to set up blocks.

The problem for Washington on this play is two fold. First, Oregon was clearly ready for plays of this nature for Ross, who has been hands down the Huskies most explosive offensive weapon so far this year. Right when the screen starts to develop, Joe Walker immediately realizes it and darts for Ross.

Secondly, the left guard who is supposed to block Walker to spring Ross gets caught up on DeForest Buckner's rush of Miles.

This snag costs him precious time that he isn't able to make up because of how quickly Walker realizes the screen. Walker can't wrap up the elusive Ross himself, but he does slow him down enough for other Duck defenders to get there and drag him down for a minimal gain.

While the defense still isn't perfect, there seem to have been major improvements since the Arizona game - both in terms of scheme and play - that we can hope to continue to see.

Royce Freeman 4-yard run for 1st down

With a quality pooch punt from Washington on the previous drive, Oregon began their drive from their own 1-yard line. After 1st and 2nd down runs to Freeman, the Ducks went right back to their workhorse on a critical 3rd down.

With a 3rd and 4 deep in their own territory, Washington knows Oregon is probably running the ball on this play and lines up five on the line. Oregon keeps Pharaoh Brown in on the line to keep the numbers in their favor. The key on this play for Oregon is center Hroniss Grasu. Grasu has to chip the nose tackle lined up directly across from him long enough for right guard Doug Brenner to get over and pick up the block. But Grasu also has to get to the second level of the defense and pick up the linebacker, creating the inside of the lane for Freeman.

Grasu does a great job with his two assignments, and the Washington end helps the Ducks cause by shooting the B gap which leaves the gap the run is designed to go through - the A gap - wide open. This allows Freeman to pick up the four yards needed for the first down and keep the drive alive.

These plays can be easily forgotten when watching the game live, but have a huge impact on the game. Live, it just seems like another four yard run, nothing too special. But when thinking about the game in the big picture, picking up the first down here was huge. If Oregon is short they have to punt the ball back to Washington, more than likely giving them incredible field position in the process. While you cannot assume the Huskies would score, starting a drive from around midfield will usually result in points. A Washington touchdown either puts the game at 14-13 or 14-14. Instead, Oregon takes this possession the length of the field and takes a commanding 21-6 lead, in part because of a 3rd and 4 at their own 7-yard line.


Everyone loves a good 'ol back juke. Watching the defender fly helplessly at air, where you can almost read his mind as he says, "yes I'm going to make a tackle!...Wait, I usually hit something when I make a tackle, why am I only hitting air. Is Byron Marshall made of air? Ohhhhh, he's over there now." This Denver defender knows how you feel, man.