Huskies Insider Blog

Best way to stop Oregon? Cramp up, fall down

Neuheisel audio (11-16)

It's one of the oldest tricks in the book - to stop the action on the football field, feint an injury.

There is no rule against it - only a wink.

There are very few ways to track it.

But the issue comes up - and has this week around the Pacific-10 Conference as a ploy to slow down the frantic pace of No. 1 Oregon's high-charged offense.

And Ducks fans are sensing the trend, too. Every time an opposing defender wilts to the ground, writhing in pain, the obvious assumption is that the player is acting.

"Yeah, you hear the boos," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said.

Kelly said it's not his responsibility to seek out the validity of players' injuries. If the league wants to investigate them, he added, it's their prerogative to do so.

"Whether they're real or not, I'm not smart enough to figure that out," Kelly said.

The Huskies played Oregon on Nov. 6 at Autzen Stadium, which turned out to be a 53-16 Ducks' victory.

Late in the third quarter, after a 4-yard run by LaMichael James to midfield, UW linebacker Victor Aiyewa fell down after the play near the line of scrimmage, apparently hurt.

As the Huskies' medical staff ran onto the field, boos came cascading in from the Oregon faithful.

Aiyewa returned in the fourth quarter. Whether it was fake or real, nobody is real certain. But Aiyewa was walking around fine after the game.

"We have pretty intelligent fans here at the University of Oregon," Kelly said.

Last week at California, at crucial junctures, Bears' players fell down with apparent injuries. Coach Jeff Tedford was asked about the validity of the injuries.

"(With) fast-tempo stuff, there are cramps," Tedford said. "(Faking injures) is not the deal. Anytime anybody goes down against Oregon, they think that is the case. That’s not the case."

Here is UW coach Steve Sarkisian's transcript from today's conference call:

Impressions about the way the defense played against Oregon?"I thought definitely for 21/2 quarters especially, really into three quarters, our defense played a physical, fast game. I’d like to think there are some real positives to take out of that – that we are capable of playing that brand and that style of football. The key is how you got to that point … and it was through our preparation, not only on the field, but off the field, to give us the ability to play that fast, and that physical. So I think our guys have understood that. We’ve had a really good week-and-a-half of work, and I’m excited to go see our defense play against Thursday night versus UCLA. I’m anticipating us playing the same brand of football."

How did the 'Blackout' theme for Thursday come about?"Well, it’s something before I got here even, the color of black has become almost a secondary color at the University of Washington. So much of the gear, not just the uniforms, but the gear people are wearing is on black – sweatshirts, T-shirts and jackets. It looks sharp. As we’ve gotten going since I’ve arrived, the basketball team has worn black, the women’s softball team has worn black uniforms, and we presented the idea of Nike, and went through a few different combinations of what it might look like and came to a conclusion that these looks sharp. They’re a great alternate uniform for us. It would be exciting for our fans, and for our students. And it would be something to change up – Thursday night game, first time in almost 90 years the University of Washington has played a Thursday night ballgame – we thought it would be a nice changeup and a way to close out the seniors’ career at Husky Stadium to give them something special to walk out the door with."

Any update on Jake Locker's playing status?"I have not, yet. I’m sure we’ll hear by practice time."

What would a win mean for Locker in his final home game?"I think it would mean a great deal, never mind it’s just his last home game. Anytime you miss a ballgame, and have a couple games due to injury, a real competitor like Jake Locker is champing at the bit to get back out there. He wants to get back out there in the worst way. Nothing means more to him right now than going out, playing well Thursday night and walking off the field his last time at Husky Stadium with a victory. All that being said, we’ve got to do a great job of keeping his emotions in check, and letting him play the game, and not play the game with just outright emotion in decision-making. He’s got to play the game making great decisions, and managing the football game. One, let’s get over the hurdle … getting him cleared to play. Two, managing his emotions so he can play to the best of his ability so, three, he ultimately can walk off the field with a ‘W.’"

With so few teams close to being bowl-eligible in the Pac-10, how will that affect non-conference scheduling in the years to come?"Well I think we’ve started to see that trend change in the last couple of years, and I think we’ll continue to see that trend change some in the years to come of just the type of scheduling that takes place. Obviously we’re the one conference in America that plays nine conference games. This is an extremely challenging conference where you see so many teams stuffed right in the middle of the pack that are beating each other, that can make it difficult if you go out in your non-conference (schedule) and go 1-2, you’re at risk of not being bowl-eligible. I think you’re seeing teams start to understand that, and try and schedule to get at least themselves in really good position to get to 2-1 in non-conference play. Most teams would like to be 3-0, but at least get to 2-1 so that if you get into conference play and you go 4-5 … you’re at least bowl eligible that way."