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Blame it on Ngata
Rich Linde, 11 November 2011

Haloti Ngata, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
After the Oregon game (2011), head coach Steve Sarkisian was quoted as saying, "I'm proud of our defense." The Huskies held the Ducks to 381 total yards, which is 145 yards below their average.

"But I didn't think we'd have 278 yards (on offense), either, I can tell you that," Sark said.

Oregon also gained 212 yards on the ground -- 5.4 yards per carry -- which Sark failed to mention.

LaMichael James rushed for 156 yards on 25 attempts for an average of 6.2 yards per carry while, at times, Oregon's hurry-up offense had Washington's defense back on its heals.

UW also failed to register a sack, ranking 81st in the FBS in sacks, 87th in sacks allowed and 111th in tackles for a loss.

The Huskies rank 101st in scoring defense, allowing 33.44 points per game, and have lost their last 8 games against the Ducks.

The bottom line this season is that Washington can't stop the run against teams ranked in the top 25 -- so far. On Saturday, UW gets another chance to nix a ground attack against 18th ranked USC.

Oregon's mastery over Washington, its 8-game winning streak, began in 2004, not coincidentally with the emergence in the rivalry of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. His worth to a team? Ask the pros. On September 20, 2011, the Baltimore Ravens signed him to a 5-year deal worth $61 million.

Yes, blame it on Ngata, a devout member of the LDS church, who came close to choosing Washington in the recruiting process. Was it Washington's alleged reputation as a party school that convinced Ngata to sign with the Ducks? Was skullduggery afoot in the recruiting process?

"(Mike) Bellotti, usually a fairly taciturn sort, couldn't restrain his glee over one of these giants, Haloti Ngata, a defender from Salt Lake City, who the Duck head master blurted, is the biggest signing in the history of Oregon football." (Oregon Magazine).

Ngata was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft as a 12th pick.

The Huskies will begin to compete with the big boys, as in Stanford and Oregon, when defensive coordinator Nick Holt, out on the recruiting trail, begins to think "SEC front four" -- or say, Ngata -- and settles for nothing less. (With this in mind, see Table 1 below for a significant defensive stat and its correlation with the Huskies' six victories and their three losses this season.)

Table 1. In its six victories, Washington has held its six opponents to an average of 51.5 yards per game on the ground, which would rank first in the FBS if those six games were all Washington had played. In its three losses, UW has allowed 322.3 rushing yards per game. In its nine games, UW ranks 52nd in the FBS in rushing defense (5th in the Pac-12), yielding 141.78 yards per game. This table seems to say stop the run and win the game.

School

W/L

Rush

UW Rush

Eastern Washington

W

31 yards

148 yards

Hawaii

W

55

151

Nebraska

 L

309

146

California

W

108

117

Utah

W

17

185

Colorado

W

62

295

Stanford

L

446

172

Arizona

W

36

179

Oregon

L

212

82

Richard Linde can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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