EUGENE — No. 17 Oregon (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) will host rival No. 7 Washington (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC/ESPN2.
Here are our five questions and Adam’s prediction for the game:
1. How has Washington’s offensive line changed since the season opener against Auburn?
Jude: “The loss of preseason All-American left tackle Trey Adams before the Auburn game was significant. That forced Washington to play four offensive linemen for the first time at new positions, including linemen (Beaverton’s Jared Hilbers and Jesuit High product Jaxson Kirkland) making their starting debuts. The Huskies were tested early against a really good Auburn D-line, and then again two weeks later against a really good Utah D-line in Salt Lake City. The O-line has settled in since and played well the past three weeks.”
2. Is Myles Gaskin’s drop in production because of the increased passing or is there more to it?
Jude: “A lot of that has to do with the top-flight defenses the Huskies have faced. Gaskin’s typically be a slow starter in his career, largely because of the way coaches have deliberately “saved” him for late in the season. He had 116 yards and two touchdowns against UCLA last week, and in three games against Oregon he has 475 yards and three TDs, with a 9.3 yard-per-carry average.”
3. Does the UW secondary mind its drop in interceptions so far or is the overall effectiveness and talent satisfying enough?
Jude: “The Huskies want more turnovers, certainly. Part of the reason they were so good during their run to the College Football Playoff in 2016 was because they led the nation that season in takeaways, with 33. Those turnovers haven’t come at the same rate this season, and some of that is by design. Opposing offenses have at times shied away from throwing at that secondary. Arizona State, even with perhaps the nation’s best receiver, N’Keal Harry, went with a run-heavy game plan. (Harry, by the way, had just five catches for 20 yards vs. UW last month.) The Huskies have allowed just three touchdown passes in six games, and two of those came last week against UCLA and its true-freshman QB, Dorian Thompson-Robinson.”
4. How much of a concern is the lack of consistent pass rush?
Jude: “It should be a concern for Washington. It’s telling that a safety, Taylor Rapp, has half of the Huskies’ eight sacks this season. The Huskies don’t have any sacks from a defensive end or outside linebacker this season. They’re going to have to get creative to get some pressure on Justin Herbert on Saturday.”
5. How do you see things playing out and what’s your score prediction?
Jude: “We know it’s going to be an emotionally charged atmosphere at Autzen Stadium, and we know how good — how great — the Ducks have been to start games so far this season. If the Huskies can withstand some of that early pressure — and that is a big if — I like their chances. Washington’s defense rarely gives up big plays, and Jake Browning doesn’t rattle easily (he’s 7-1 vs. ranked Pac-12 opponents). I’m thinking 34-28, Huskies.”