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5 Things we learned from Oregon vs. Washington State

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It wasn't a game that Oregon fans have become used to over the years but there are a number of lessons we should take away as we carry through the season.

It's all fun and games until someone blows a pass interference call.
It's all fun and games until someone blows a pass interference call.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

1. Washington State is getting better and we need to stop thinking of them as the conference doormat.

While it hasn't appeared this way in the win column, Mike Leach has their program going in a good direction and has dramatically improved the talent in Pullman over his tenure. The Cougars aren't the pushovers fans have come to expect and we need to move past our recent historical views on Pullman. Sure, we can make excuses for Oregon's performance but the reality is that this Washington State team is competitive in a very tough Pac-12. It took an otherworldly performance by a Heisman candidate quarterback to escape Pullman with a win. Time to adjust our perspective

2. The Oregon fanbase needs to adapt to the "You are the hunted" philosophy.

We just want to be friends but the reality is that no one wants to be friends with teams that win a lot of games. Over the years, people just want to see you lose and be "knocked down a peg". Think about this for a second. Even USC fan... USC FAN of all people... is trying to rally everyone around our opponent.

It's time to stop apologizing for our wins and success to other fanbases and enjoy the moment. No matter how much comfort we might offer up, we'll always get this.

Opposing fans will always be angry and seek out the commentary that fits their narrative so they can be DOUBLE ANGRY because honestly, they will ignore every single one of these.

3. It's time to stop hyping the secondary every year.

Washington State's physical receivers abused our secondary. I get it, they are a designed passing team but the unreal expectations we seem to bring to the table every year just isn't based in reality. Since Chip took over the team, we've had this bizarre expectation that our corners lock everything down and we have a no-fly zone in the secondary. By mid-season, we're always disappointed. It's no different this year. The only thing I can think of is that the coaching staff is putting Dior Mathis in on 3rd downs to really emphasize the "bend" part of our defense because he's an opponent-targeted liability out there.

4. Mark Helfrich and staff are good at second half adjustments.

We had a feeling after Michigan State, but certainly after Washington State, we know that the coaching staff is doing the right things in terms of second half adjustments. Looking at just the leaking offensive line, the staff dialed up some simple rollouts and quicker pass plays to take the heat off of Marcus Mariota (and the offensive line). It seems like a minor thing, but it made all the difference in the world in terms of successful drives. 17 games into the Helfrich-era, these adjustments appear to be a strength that will carry forward... as long as the talent remains to take advantage of those adjustments.

5. The freshman on the team have been tested by fire early in the season and they have passed the test so far.

We have to temper our expectations somewhat because Oregon is such a young team but what better training to receive this early then to have a tough Michigan State win at home and then a road test in a crazy place like Pullman. Because of how potent this offense can be, it's easy to forget that, in many ways, critical positions are still growing up with their first shot at a Pac-12 season. Having a test in a hostile environment this early gives these freshman a lot to work on going into the bye week and Arizona.