SEATTLE -- Here are five storylines as Washington prepares to play No. 2 Oregon on the road in Eugene, Ore., Saturday:
1. Justin Wilcox returns home: Washington’s defensive coordinator grew up about 15 miles from Eugene in Junction City. His father, Dave, played football at Oregon before a Hall of Fame career in the NFL. So did his brother, Josh. Justin was a defensive back with the Ducks, graduating in 1999 before eventually landing as the Huskies’ defensive coordinator.
After Washington’s defensive effort during last week’s 17-13 win over Stanford, Justin is getting plenty of attention for how he has turned around the Huskies’ defense. Justin faces a tough task in this homecoming, attempting to devise a game plan to slow down the Ducks.
UW linebackers coach Peter Sirmon also played for Oregon and was Wilcox’s roommate in college.
2. How to slow down Oregon? Washington faces a serious shift in offenses this week. Against Stanford, it was all about slowing down the Cardinal’s ground game. This week, the question becomes, can the Huskies contain Oregon’s speed? The Ducks have yet to score fewer than 42 points in a game and are No. 4 in the nation in scoring, averaging 52.4 points per game.
3. Keith Price returns to Autzen Stadium: The junior made his first start against the Ducks at Autzen Stadium in 2010. He was sacked five times. However, in front of more than 60,000 people, Price took his shots and dished out a few of his own, completing 14 of 28 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t turn the ball over, which will be a key in his return if the Huskies want to defeat Oregon for the first time in nine tries.
4. What will De’Anthony Thomas do? Through five games this season, Thomas is averaging almost 140 yards of total offense, and his speed makes him tough to tackle in space. While Thomas is explosive, the Huskies will also have to watch out for running back Kenjon Barner, who has rushed for 605 yards and nine touchdowns.
5. Seferian-Jenkins called on to block more: Sophomore tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was held to just two catches for 10 yards in the upset win over Stanford last week. The Huskies kept the standout in to block more against the Cardinal but will need him more involved in the passing game this week against the Ducks.