This could have been a pivotal moment for Jimmy Lake as Washington’s head coach. Instead, it turned into a demoralizing loss that has made this Husky season a still-manifest disappointment (or disaster, depending on how charitable you feel) — with some unique and embarrassing twists. with.
Questions would come flooding in after the Husky’s 26-16 loss at Husky Stadium, which included an unfair sideline incident involving Lake and one of his players during the game, and later a close-fight between Oregon and Washington players.
Huskies seem to have an uncanny ability to draw unwanted attention to themselves, and this game was perhaps the most obvious example, given the high scrutiny of a rivalry game. And it began earlier in the week when Lake said Oregon’s “academic prowess” was not up to the same standard as Washington’s—an unnecessary needle to outdo an opponent that already had plenty of motivation.
The Ducks’ athletic prowess was decidedly better on Saturday, as they outclassed the Huskies 427-166 and completely dominated Washington in the final three quarters. And it was hard to notice that for a group of smart people, Huskies didn’t always make the smartest decisions.
Of all the aspects of the game that effectively ended Washington’s hopes for the Pac-12 North title, the primary is that the Husky offense, which has been morbid for most of the season, is magically rehabilitated. Not there. We’re hearing the same lament after each game about the lack of execution. We’re seeing the same unimaginable play-calling week after week.
This is almost certainly going to cost offensive coordinator John Donovan at his job at the end of the season, if not sooner. The game was there to be taken by Washington, but they weren’t able to capitalize on the opening spell when presented with myriad golden opportunities to do so.
It began so brightly for the Huskies on a foreboding night, with a page torn from the troubled booklet. Oregon’s first possession was a pick-six for an easy Husky touchdown, a safety later in the quarter in which the Husky Stadium crowd was in a frenzy.
Something special was cooking, it seemed. But the Huskies made it away with a series of first-half possessions that faded and died—many of them beginning in possession of excellent territory. And finally, Oregon broke through a near-heroic Husky defensive effort, took the lead, and then used its ground game to submit to Washington.
“It was very disappointing. Very disappointing,” said Lake. “You have a team like that on the ropes in our stadium. And all the big plays we are making, the defensive stops we are making. Extremely disappointing. If we are able to convert that momentum into a touchdown, field goal, or simply move the ball and get the first down, we will be able to knock our opponent down.
“It changed the whole makeup of the game. And that’s what we have to work towards. We have to move the chains and score points, especially when we’re feeling that energy and juice from our crowd. And we’re on the second side of the ball.” Playing on the side.”
It’s a little late in working toward those results, though, when Lake said the Huskies’ ultimate goal of the Pac-12 title has already slipped.
Part of the issue were elements, as the trademark Seattle trifecta – wind, rain and cold – landed on Husky Stadium. The part was the predictable play calling that we have come to expect. And part was poor execution and/or judging by the Huskies, when quarterback Dylan Morris threw in triple coverage of Jalen McMillan, resulting in an Oregon interception.
The result was that once again Lake was left to justify a Husky offense that was much less than the sum of his parts. By the time Lake made the dubious decision to punt with only 1:59 in the game, down eight points and stunned on his 10-yard line, it was academic. The snap went awry, leading to safety and the Husky didn’t get the ball back as Lake expected.
“It’s all on the coaches,” Lake said of the offense’s struggle. “Execution starts with me. You can put 100% on the coaches. You can write that. That’s all we are. It’s all on us. We have to put our people in a position to go out there and perform and make plays. And so in my opening statements, when I spoke of hanging, I was talking about myself and my employees.
Lake was also left to address the first-half incident in which he was seen aggressively pushing back redshirt freshman linebacker Ruprake Fuwai while making contact with the player’s facemask.
“People were chipping back and forth,” Lake said. “And one of our players was close to the Oregon defender’s face. And I went in to separate them and push him back. After that we calmed down a bit. And that was our deal of the week, that you must have chivalry. We knew this was going to be a very heated matchup. And there will be a lot of garbage talk.
Asked if he regretted attacking Fuawai, Lek replied, “I didn’t kill him. I pulled him apart.”
Lake and his counterpart, Mario Cristobal, were also called for something different after the game ended as both sides warmed up on the field. Ultimately peace was restored without any major incident. Lake said it was a series of ficklenesses that lasted all night.
“It’s 18- to 22-year-olds, and they’re talking trash back and forth,” he said. “I didn’t hear what they were saying. But our staff and their staff did a good job of isolating people before anything serious escalated.
The game ended with Oregon on Washington’s 1, mercifully choosing to let the clock run rather than run the score. It hardly eased the bite that would last for a long, long time for Huskies.