Sure, the Ducks valued the victory Saturday at Husky Stadium, but only for the big picture. It keeps them at the top of the Pac-10 standings and sets up the league's game of the year on Halloween night in Eugene against USC.
The least the Oregon Ducks could have done is whooped it up a little. You know, celebrated, done a little rap number, made it seem like they were geeked up about beating Washington.
Instead, they were as workmanlike in the postgame interviews as they had been in 60 minutes of football. If it was a big deal to beat the Huskies, 43-19, for the sixth straight time, the Ducks did a nice job masking it.
Sure, they valued the victory Saturday at Husky Stadium, but only for the big picture. It keeps them at the top of the Pac-10 standings and sets up the league’s game of the year on Halloween night in Eugene against USC.
“Should be pretty wicked,” said Nate Costa, the backup quarterback.
That was about as splashy as it got as the Ducks reviewed their sixth win of the season after the rotten start at Boise State on Sept. 3.
Looking for an incendiary comment about Ducks and Huskies? This one, from defensive end Will Tukuafu, will have to do.
“We have rivalries every week,” he said evenly. “Whoever shows up on Saturday to play us, that’s our rival.”
Really wakes the echoes of Mel Renfro and Rick Redman and Mark Lee and Kenny Wheaton, doesn’t it?
Say this for the Ducks: They not only throw a lot of talent out there, they’re as good as anybody at hoodwinking you as well. Against the Huskies, just when you might have thought Oregon was ripe to be had, the Ducks overloaded Washington’s left side on a second-quarter punt.
That became a three-on-two fast break. Wide receiver Rory Cavaille of Shelton wedged himself through to block Will Mahan’s punt and Tyrell Irvin fell on it for a touchdown.
“I thought the gap was closed,” said Cavaille, showing a telltale red mark on his right forearm. “I kind of turned my shoulder and saw the ball right there.”
“That punt,” mused Chip Kelly, the Oregon coach. “You watched us gain some confidence and start flying. When this group gets flying, it kinds of gets into a frenzy mode.”
Before the flying, though, came the flim-flamming. After the Irvin touchdown, Oregon lined up in one of those weird, offset extra-point formations and Costa ran in for two points. They’ve done that three times this year.
“You have no idea in Pac-10 games if it’s going to come down to a one-point game,” said Kelly. “If it is, those hidden points you can kind of steal, we’re going to do it. It makes the defense spend time during the week. You’ve got to defend it.”
Soon after, Oregon up 8-3, there was no defense for Costa’s 7-yard dash to the left on fourth-and-five, with the Ducks lined up for a 32-yard field goal that instead morphed into a touchdown.
“If I saw a defense I didn’t like, we could have kicked it,” said Costa, the holder, who gives hand and verbal signals for the fake. “I saw the right numbers and the right situation, so I ran it.”
Not to say the Ducks didn’t just play a lot of good old-fashioned, dominating football. The play that set up the Costa fake was a third-and-25 throw over the middle perfectly laid in by Jeremiah Masoli to backup tight end David Paulson of Auburn Riverside, sustaining that drive.
“Huge,” Kelly said. “I thought it was one of the turning points of the game.”
“Masoli put it in a great spot,” said Paulson, who later turned in a killer block to spring LaMichael James on a 56-yard touchdown run.
Shortly, the team that had looked vulnerable — shut out for the first 17 minutes — had put 43 points on Washington, and Kelly said matter-of-factly about the Ducks, “They love to practice and they love to play.”
You’d figure that will hold true against USC in six days.
“I’m guessing it’ll be fired-up,” said Tukuafu, referring to Eugene. “We aren’t really too worried about getting involved in the hype.”
He could have almost stifled a yawn. That’s the way it is with the Ducks, a good team that knows it. But not too much.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org