Saturday, December 20, 2014
Washington Offense vs. Oregon Defense
Washington sophomore QB Jake Locker rushed for a Pac-10 quarterback record 986 yards last year; expect the Huskies to take advantage of his mobility by running plenty of designed quarterback keepers. One of the ways Oregon can slow Locker down is by using rover Patrick Chung to spy or lock in on Locker. The Ducks will likely line Chung up near the box or have him move up to the linebacker level at the snap of the ball, putting him in better position to defend the run. That should be a concern for the Huskiesí ground attack, because Chung is a physical run-stuffer who recorded 117 tackles last year. When Locker isn't tucking and running, RBs Brandon Johnson, David Freeman and highly touted freshman Chris Polk are expected to get the bulk of the work. Polk, who originally committed to USC but came to Washington because he wanted to make an immediate impact, is the player Oregon needs to keep an eye on. He will get his chance in this game, as offensive coordinator Tim Lappano created a new position specifically for him. Lappano will use Polk in a role similar to the one Reggie Bush played at USC a few years ago. Regardless of who is carrying the ball, the success of the Huskiesí running game in large part depends on how quickly the offensive line can come together. Sixth-year senior captain C Juan Garcia suffered a potentially career-ending foot injury during the spring and is expected to play, though how effective he is and how well the foot holds up remains to be seen. If Garcia needs to come out of the game, he will likely be replaced by redshirt sophomore Matt Sedillo, who has two career starts. Despite all of Locker's success on the ground last year, there's no getting around his mediocre passing numbers. He completed just 47.3 percent of his passing attempts and ended up with 14 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. The hope for Washington fans is that Locker is ready to take the next step in terms of reading the defense, taking what the coverage gives him and consistently hitting his target on the numbers. An experienced Ducks secondary should be an excellent test for Lappano to see how far his quarterback has come. Chung is flanked by a pair of solid junior cornerbacks in Jairus Byrd and Walter Thurmond. Byrd is a ball hawk who led the team with seven interceptions last season, and Thurmond notched six interceptions himself last fall. Making the challenge that much harder for Locker is the Huskies' inexperienced receiving corps and offensive line. At receiver, sophomore D'Andre Goodwin and redshirt freshman Alvin Logan are slated to start, and they should have some problems consistently separating from Byrd and Thurmond. Meanwhile, an offensive line that fields two returning starters and could lose Garcia at any time faces an active defensive front led by DE's Nick Reed and Will Tukuafu. Locker is going to have to get rid of the ball quickly and will at times be forced to throw into tight coverage.
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