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UW's best not nearly enough.

Byline: Terry Wood For The Register-Guard

SEATTLE - Even on a night when his team played one of its better offensive games of 2007, Washington Huskies coach Tyrone Willingham understood his squad was in a shootout with too little ammo.

"We knew coming into the game we were facing one heck of a football team, especially on the offensive side of the ball," Willingham said after witnessing a 55-34 Oregon win in which the Ducks amassed 661 yards of total offense and a school-record 465 yards rushing.

"It was for much of the football game a heck of a football game, except we were unable to match score for score with them in the end. Good effort, but no victory."

It is an uncomfortably familiar outcome for Willingham and the Huskies (2-5 overall, 0-4 Pac-10), who have now lost five straight after winning their first two games as they battle their way through one of the nation's toughest schedules.

It was no easier for Willingham and his players to watch knowing that a Washington state product, Jonathan Stewart, tore through his defense for a career-best 251 yards, the second-highest total in Oregon history.

"He's one of the toughest backs I've played," said Washington's 6-foot-6, 295-pound defensive tackle, Jordan Reffett. "I give him credit. I give their offensive line credit. They came in here and played well, and it's disappointing the numbers that they put up.

"He's a big back," Reffett said. "He's physical, he's strong, he's an NFL-caliber type guy. We've just got to learn how to bring him down."

Poor tackling, Willingham conceded, is an area of concern for the Huskies, who began the game with the worst-ranked rushing defense in the Pac-10, surrendering 203 yards per game.

"I think we've got some issues," Willingham said when asked about his team's ineffective tackling.

"Obviously, there are a lot of things that we didn't do and places where we didn't get to that we wanted to be at.

"I don't think it's as simple as saying, `We missed a tackle and played a good back.' There are things we have to work at and continue to improve at to get ourselves in the right position."

The Huskies were in pretty good position after scoring two third-quarter touchdowns and, after a 42-yard field goal by Ryan Perkins with 5 minutes 59 seconds left in the fourth quarter, trailed just 41-34.

Willingham, noting that Oregon typically plays a four-man front about 15 yards off the ball during kickoffs, opted to try an onside kick following the field goal. It was recovered by Oregon on the Washington 44.

The Ducks needed just three plays - one a 26-yard run by Stewart, then a 13-yard scoring dash by Dennis Dixon - to move ahead 48-34 with 4:52 remaining on the clock.

Why try the onside kick? "I wanted to create something to give our team the best chance to win," Willingham said.

Was it a desperation move because he had given up on his defense, which to that point had already given up 17 fourth-quarter points?

"No," he said, "I don't think it's that approach. If you looked at the timing of the game, you're starting to run out of time and we need to make something happen.

"We need to see if we can get the upper hand in that, because if you're just chasing them, I don't think you're in a great position. We needed to get that wanted possession advantage and a score."

Willingham said part of his game plan included throwing deep against the Ducks, and much-hyped freshman quarterback Jake Locker had his best game as a collegian against Oregon, connecting with Anthony Russo on an 83-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter.

The 6-3, 225-pound Locker finished with 257 yards on 12-of-31 passing and rushed for 78 yards. His game was helped by an above-average running night for tailback Louis Rankin (73 yards, 11 carries).

"Louis had a great game today," Locker said. "He made guys miss and made our running game go. Obviously any time you're able to run the ball it opens those lanes in the passing game."

That gave Locker the added courage to air the ball out.

"We had seen on film that they kind of like to bring some pressure and put some man coverage down the field," he said. "We were able to take advantage of it deep. Coming in we thought we were going to take our shots, and we needed to connect on those."

He admired what the Ducks could do on offense. "Who doesn't want to put up 600 yards of offense?" Locker said. "I thought they did a really good job of carrying out their fakes. It was hard to tell where the ball was, and that makes it tough on the defense.

"We knew we were going to have to put up some points to win this game," Locker added. "That's a good team, and we didn't put up enough to win, obviously."
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Title Annotation:Football Oregon; The Huskies put up plenty of offense, but they can't match Oregon in the conference shootout
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 21, 2007
Previous Article:GAME REPORT.

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