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Huskies' defense falls apart in third quarter

  • Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt (left) talks to freshman safety Nate Fellner in the second half.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt (left) talks to freshman safety Nate Fellner in the second half.

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By Scott M. Johnson
Herald Writer
Published:
  • Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt (left) talks to freshman safety Nate Fellner in the second half.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt (left) talks to freshman safety Nate Fellner in the second half.

SEATTLE — With the exception of one key breakdown on a third-and-long, the University of Washington defense might have had its best first half of the season on Saturday night.
The Huskies followed it with their worst second half.
Oregon piled up 284 yards after halftime, and 196 of those yards came on three drives during the third quarter.
“They were just a better team than us the second half,” UW defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu said. “They came out with a vengeance, they were ready, and they hit us in the mouth.”
Head coach Steve Sarkisian used a similar cliche to describe the third quarter.
“Sooner or later, if water’s filling up and you’re not doing anything about it, that dam’s going to break on you,” he said. “That dam broke, and they got rolling there in the third quarter.”
What happened, in an X’s and O’s sense, is that Oregon made a key halftime adjustment.
UW had been keying on the Ducks running backs throughout the first half, knowing the Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was hobbled by a knee injury. But Masoli took control in the second half and made several big runs on option plays. After loosening up the defense, the junior quarterback made a few big passes, including a 26-yard completion on third-and-15 and a 16-yard touchdown throw.
In the third quarter, Masoli had 145 yards of offense — 63 rushing, and 82 passing.
“The big issue was the quarterback scrambling,” Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. “He got out on us and made some big plays.”
Oregon finished with 416 total yards to become the fifth consecutive UW opponent to go over 400 yards of total offense.
“They got us in the third quarter and early part of the fourth quarter, and that was the ball game there,” Holt said. “I thought the first half was a really good ball game for us. The kids executed and played their butts off.”
The biggest blow of the game might have come in the second quarter, when Masoli hit tight end David Paulson on a pass over the middle for 32 yards on third-and-25.
“We were just battling the whole day after that,” Holt said.
The Huskies are working in several younger players in an effort to learn on the fly.
Saturday’s game featured a lineup that included three freshmen in the secondary: safety Nate Fellner and cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Adam Long.
“We’re getting some great experience,” Sarkisian said. “ ... We’ve got some good, young talent on defense, and they’re getting a lot of good, valuable reps for them and for the future of our program.”
Story tags » Huskies Football

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