The Huskies set an Autzen Stadium record for points scored by an opponent, adding to the Ducks’ worst start in 30 years.
EUGENE, Ore. — Brady Hoke didn’t mince words as he walked off the Autzen Stadium turf Saturday night and shot a glance at the Washington side of the scoreboard.
“Seventy (bleeping) points,” Oregon’s first-year defensive coordinator muttered in disgust after the Ducks gave up a season-high 682 yards in a 70-21 loss to the seemingly unstoppable No. 5 Huskies.
Hoke wasn’t around for the past 12 years of Oregon success at Washington’s expense, or for the 17 Duck victories over their interstate rivals the past 21 years.
All he saw was a Husky offense that did as it wished, whether that was Jake Browning passing for 304 yards and six touchdowns or fellow sophomore Myles Gaskin rushing for 197 yards and another score.
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Washington dropped a stadium scoring record by an opponent on the Ducks (2-4, 0-3 Pac-12), who’ve yielded well north of a country mile of total offense (1,926 yards) in their three conference losses, an average of 642 yards per game.
The lopsided result added misery to Oregon’s worst start to a season in 30 years and led coach Mark Helfrich to apologize during his radio show to the sellout crowd of 58,842 — the first in four home games — for the final score.
Helfrich also said that what had been leaked from Oregon’s closed practices as a weeklong referendum on the quarterback position was a done deal, with freshman Justin Herbert replacing five-game starter and graduate transfer Dakota Prukop.
“The biggest thing our team needed was a spark,” Helfrich said. “Not only our offense needed a spark, but our team needed a spark, and the two guys who handled it great were Justin Herbert and Dakota Prukop.
“From the word ‘go’ last Monday, the team knew exactly what we were doing, and it showed. We prepared very well.”
Just four months removed from pitching his baseball team at nearby Sheldon High to the state-tournament semifinals, Herbert experienced his only glaring hiccup on the first play of the game.
On a crossing route to Charles Nelson, Herbert delivered behind the receiver and into the waiting arms of Husky safety Budda Baker, who returned the interception 15 yards to the Oregon 30.
“He hitched it and didn’t trust himself,” Helfrich said, “as a lot of young players tend to do.”
Three plays later, Browning was in the end zone with the first of his two rushing touchdowns and Washington’s four all told. The rout was on.
After the Ducks went three-and-out on their next two possessions, Herbert began to find his rhythm. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound right-hander finished 21 of 34 for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
“There are a lot of things he did well and a lot of things he can improve on,” Nelson said. “We all need to do that.”
Down 21-0 after one quarter, Oregon took a committee approach to its running game, with four backs sharing the load. Reserves Taj Griffin and Tony Brook-James each finished with 60 yards, and starter Royce Freeman was held to 50 yards on 11 carries.
Still, the biggest concern as the Ducks approach their bye week riding their first four-game losing streak since 2002 is what to do about the defense.
Hoke didn’t have any answers.
“We’ve got to do a better job and I’ve said that too many times and I’m getting sick of saying it,” Hoke said, “but these kids deserve better.
“There are a lot of good things in there. They’re hard to see right now, but they’re in there.”