It was all on the line for Oregon on Friday night in Las Vegas, and they blew it. Not showing up for the first quarter was a pretty bad start. Being down 20-3 was never going to lead to an easy win. But the Ducks had a shot in this one.
Oregon went up 24-20 with 1:51 left in the third quarter. They had a couple of stops on defense, the offense had scored 21 unanswered points. All of the momentum was on their side. UW followed it with a methodical touchdown drive. Oregon followed the Washington touchdown with a horrendous drive, attempting to force-feed a Bucky Irving who didn’t look like himself. The Ducks punted, Washington scored again to go up 34-24 and the game was effectively over.
Sure, Oregon scored on a crazy run after the catch by Traeshon Holden, but Washington only really needed one first down to ice the game, and they got two.
This was, arguably, the biggest game in the history of a now-dead football conference. One of the biggest games in Oregon history. It was there for the taking, and the Ducks couldn’t deliver.
Folks online kept saying that the game was “good” and “fun to watch” but I couldn’t see it. Sure, I am overly emotional during big games, it is why I don’t watch sports with other people. But spotting your opponent a 17-point lead in the first half of the biggest game of the careers of almost every player on the roster seems like a missed opportunity.
Losing is a miserable endeavor, and unfortunately the Ducks have only lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Huskies this season, enhancing the misery.
To the eyes of this writer at least, cornerback development needs to take a step forward during this offseason, or it will be the same story next year. The guys on the outside actually performed admirably today, but whenever a player was lined up eight yards off the ball in the slot, you could tell Michael Penix was going to throw a quick out route to whichever of his three NFL caliber receivers was lined up there.
It worked every time.
Shore that up, and the Ducks could be in business for some big things next season as well. For now, head into the bowl season with the knowledge that the only team that could beat Oregon during the best Pac 12 season ever had the best receiving corps in the history of the conference.
Dan Lanning is going to have to develop his secondary, because Washington is going to be right there competing with Oregon next year. Fail to develop cornerbacks and nickelbacks and the Ducks will find themselves on the losing end of more and more games to our most-hated rival.
Hopefully he can pull it off.
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Ryan Robertson is a defense contractor for the United States Marine Corps. A lifelong Duck fan from Grants Pass, he joined the Army out of high school. After four years as an Intelligence Analyst he decided it was time to further his education and pay more attention to his Ducks. One of Ryan’s first memories is of watching the Ducks, led by Joey Harrington, beating up on the Utah Utes in 2001. His grandfather ran track at Oregon in the ‘50s. He loves the Ducks, and has a passionate interest in reading every scrap of analysis centered around the football team.
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