Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday Wanderings: Duckade of Dominance, Seahawk Wide Receiver Woes and What's Wrong With the Sounders

By Marshall Cherrington

Wednesday Wanderings is a weekly column written by Editor-in Chief and creator of the Sports Soup Network, Marshall Cherrington. He brings you all of his weekly thoughts pertaining to Seattle sports, and anything else for that matter.
When I was thinking about how to begin this second edition of Wednesday Wanderings, I thought to myself, what do the people want? What does Seattle want? What do the true fans want? I came up with the conclusion that they would probably just want me to stop trying to make small talk and get to the point. I like these introductions and it’s my goal to try and make you laugh so you can settle in and loosen up for a journey through the week in Seattle sports. If you like this portion of the column, please comment below. I’m begging you. Out of the 60+ articles posted on this website, not one person has commented on an article. Not one reader. So please be the first. And if you are the first, good things will come to you. Just trust me.
Alright, I’ll cut the small talk and get to the main points. It was really an up and down week for Seattle sports, with more downs than ups. The Sounders are struggling mightily, the Huskies got blown out by Oregon, and the Seahawks are still trying to find that groove that has been evading them for the past couple of weeks. But hey, the ‘Hawks still got the win and that’s really all that matters in a true fan’s heart. Let’s dive into some more details on the week that was in Seattle sports.
I’ll start off with the biggest story. The Oregon Ducks’ decade of dominance against the Washington Huskies. Did you see those shirts Oregon is selling in their team shop? I thought those were pretty cute. “Duckade” instead of decade. Ha. Duck fans always talk about how the Huskies are not one of their rivals and are just “another faceless opponent” yet they go and make those haughty t-shirts making sure to let everyone know that they’ve dominated the decade. But, if Washington dominated Oregon for a decade, I’m sure they would do the exact same thing. Just look at the example from last year. After the Huskies beat Stanford at home, they created a t-shirt just to commemorate one game. Isn’t one of the Huskies’ mottos “expect to win”? Both parties are at fault here.
But to get to the real game between the Ducks and Huskies, I think the final score was not very indicative of how close the game really was. The Huskies played the Ducks well for most of the game, but I didn’t even realize they were playing the Ducks THAT close. I guess I’m just used to Oregon dominating these games. I was watching during the second half and after Bishop Sankey darted down the field for a 25-yard touchdown run, I said to myself, “The Huskies are really only down seven?! At the start of the fourth quarter?!” Given, I was a little distracted during the game and that’s why the score came to me as a surprise, but still, I think most Husky fans were glad to be only down seven at that point in the game. Husky fans could feel it. Finally, a legitimate chance to beat the Oregon Ducks. A game that would deny the Ducks of their “Duckade of Dominance.” That was until the fourth quarter came around.
The Ducks controlled all facets of the game in the fourth quarter and the Huskies defense just looked tired out there trying to chase Marcus Mariota. I expected him to have a game like he did. A kind of Heisman statement game. Here is my game prediction that was published on

Oregon 42, Washington 31
The Washington defense has never faced an offense as talented as Oregon’s is this year. This Duck offense is a better version of last year’s Duck offense, an offense that hung up 52 points against the Huskies. However, the Huskies defense is much improved as well and that’s why I think the Huskies will be in it the entire way. The Husky defense has proven its strength late in games and that was evident just last week as they gave up zero points to Stanford in the fourth quarter. Despite the strength of the defense, Oregon’s offense is just too good. With talented receivers in Bralon Addison, Josh Huff and Keanon Lowe flanking Heisman favorite Marcus Mariota, I find it hard to see how the Husky defense will consistently stop the Ducks. On the other hand, I think the Washington offense will be able to move the ball well coming off their impressive performance last week. I expect Keith Price to have another exceptional game, but I think he could be under the same amount of pressure he was in the Stanford game. With Arik Armstead, Taylor Hart and Tony Washington all applying consistent pressure, Price might not be able to stay together like he did last week. Oregon is the better team right now, and after this loss, I don’t see UW losing another game this year.

I think, for once, I did a pretty spot on job of predicting what was going to happen in the game. However, the game could have gone completely differently than I expected if Bishop Sankey would not have fumbled that ball in the second quarter. What a momentum killer for the Huskies. At the time, they were down just one score and it looked like the Huskies were going to put the ball in the end zone on that drive. But mistakes happen and Husky fans have got to be pleased with the best running back in the nation at this point in the season.

Another point that I mentioned in my pregame prediction was the pressure Keith price was going to face. Price constantly felt pressure during the game and I think the offensive line really got worked. But to give the offensive line credit, they have faced two great front sevens in back to back weeks. Stanford just battered and bruised them, which didn’t help against an underrated Oregon front seven. It doesn’t get any easier for the unit this week when they take on Will Sutton and the Arizona State Sun Devils.

One player who really stood out to me during the game, besides Marcus Mariota, was Ducks wide receiver Bralon Addison. The kid is only a sophomore and I think he has the potential to become an All-Pac-12 first team receiver when it’s all said and done with. He ran great routes, showed some exceptional speed and most of all, displayed very strong hands as he didn’t drop one pass that was thrown his way. He makes Marcus Mariota’s life just a tad bit easier. Mariota should take him out for a nice dinner in the beautiful city of Eugene after he wins the Heisman and after the Oregon Ducks win the National Championship. Yeah I said it. Oregon is the best team in the nation, and I don’t doubt that for a second.

Your 2013 Heisman Trophy Winner, Marcus Mariota. Oh, and those jerseys are sick.
Sports Illustrated

The Huskies will head off to the desert this week as they are set to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils in a mid-afternoon game. Brutal for the Dawgs, right? Mid-afternoon in the desert does not sound nice to me. I’d be living by the Gatorade cooler if I were a Huskies player. The forecast calls for a high of 88 degrees on Saturday and I think that is part of the reason why the Huskies have been practicing in Dempsey Indoor all week.

I think it goes without being said that this is a must win game for both teams, but especially for the Huskies. I mean, every game is a must win game, but this is a must win, must win game for Washington. If they lose, it will mark yet another season where the Huskies have lost three games in a row under Steve Sarkisian. But if they win, it will get the Huskies confidence level back on track after two really tough losses. This team plays much better when they’re confident and you could definitely see that during the Boise State game. They came into that one knowing they should dominate a mid-major team and they completely did. That’s the mindset they have to have in this one and for the rest of the season. A killer mindset of sorts. But Arizona State will be gunning for the Huskies as well. They lost a tough one to Notre Dame two weeks ago before their trouncing of Colorado this week and they still have a bitter taste in their mouth.

The key matchup to watch in this one is Will Sutton against Mike Criste, Dexter Charles/Erik Kohler, and Colin Tanigawa (Charles is questionable to play so that’s why I threw Kohler in there). Those three Washington lineman are all the inside guys on the line and will have to contain the beast that is DT Will Sutton. Even though he could have been a top-15 draft pick last year, Sutton chose to return to school. I don’t know if I agree with that decision, like many other people, but nonetheless, he is a force to be reckoned with. Just watch this matchup during the game. If the Husky lineman can stop him, I think the Huskies will win easily. If they can’t, the Sun Devils could snatch this victory away from the Dawgs. The Huskies are the higher ranked team, but the Sun Devils are favored by three at home. I think this could be the most entertaining game of the year for Husky fans. I think it’ll turnout 31-24 Huskies. And I think Keith Price will have an exceptional day through the air. I think.

So, Will Sutton is kind of a beast.
Getty Images

Man, always so much to talk about with the Huskies. Any college team for that matter. But now let’s move on to the Seahawks. For yet another week, it was a gritty win for the team. Even though it didn’t look like the team was going to pull it out, I think every Seahawks fan knew deep down that the Seahawks would win. Russell Wilson will just not lose at home. It’s just not who he is as a person. Wilson continues to bail his teammates out with his legs and even though it’s fun to watch and all, I just don’t think it’s a good thing for Russell to be doing so often. Not because he’s bad at it, but because I’m afraid he’s just going to wear down and will have barely anything left in him when the playoffs come around. One thing that would help this, is if his receivers were able to get separation on a consistent basis.

Doug Baldwin insists that the Seahawks receivers have been getting all the separation they need in their routes, but I think he’s just talking about himself. Sidney Rice doesn’t seem to be worth the millions of dollars the team is spending on him and if it’s possible, the team should try and trade him before the deadline. That would be yet another stellar move by John Schneider and Co. The reason I think Rice is expendable is because the Seahawks have former Husky Jermaine Kearse. In my opinion, Kearse would be able to step right in and match or even increase the production Sidney Rice was giving the team. Kearse’s hands are clearly not a problem for him anymore and if he worked on his route running just a bit, I think he could be a big contributor in the near future. Kearse, along with Baldwin, can give Wilson the separation Wilson is desiring from his wide receivers.

The future at wide receiver for the Seahawks?
King 5 News

I also think the Seahawks’ front office has a huge decision on their hands this offseason, a decision pertaining to another wide receiver. That decision is whether to re-sign, or to let Golden Tate walk. Tate has been Wilson’s favorite target this season and Wilson always looks for him when he is in a bind. What makes this decision easier for the Seahawks is the play of Kearse, and if Percy Harvin can prove that he can produce like we all think he is going to. This team is already fun to watch, but just imagine how fun it’ll be when Percy Harvin lines up at the wide receiver position for that first time in the 2013-2014 season. Apparently, he’s about a week and a half away and could make his season debut Monday night against the Rams. Wouldn’t that be a storyline for ESPN? Only time will tell in this case, but there is no question the production of the Seahawks’ offense will go up when Harvin returns to the field.

Now to move on to the most disappointing team right now in Seattle sports (only because the Mariners aren’t playing): the Seattle Sounders. What a tumble this team has taken. They went from being favorites for the Supporter’s Shield to losing a combined 10 goals to 2 in their last three games. The defense is in shambles, Clint Dempsey has shoulders popping out, and Eddie Johnson just can’t seem to stop thinking about his contract (although I do agree with him on this issue). Sigi Schmid benched Michael Gspurning for the Portland game this past Sunday and even though Gspurning is an easy scapegoat for the woes of this team, I think Sigi needs to take a look at his defense. They’re just not doing their jobs. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado has been a mainstay in the backline for the entirety of the Sounders’ being in the MLS and even though he has played well in seasons past, I think he’s taken a step back this year. I just don’t see the quickness or strength I saw in him in years past. Don’t get me wrong, I still think he’s one of the Sounders’ best defenders, but the decline in skill level is starting to show. One defender who I think has to go is Leo Gonzalez. I really don’t know how this guy has a job right now. Sure, you need him on the left side of your defense because he is a lefty, but he’s just so slow and clumsy. All he does with the ball is turn it over with his long passes that slowly travel across the field. I mean c’mon man. Granted, I don’t know a whole lot about soccer, but I do know some things. One thing I know for sure, is that this Sounders defense needs to get fixed before fans can start worrying about how many goals Dempsey is scoring for the team or not. Defense wins championships. Am I right, or am I right?

That just about does it for another edition of Wednesday Wanderings. I think I’ll take my man Kevin Cacabelos’ advice next time when writing this column. 2000+ words gets to be daunting at times. But I can’t help it. I like to write a lot. Come back next week to find out if I can keep it under 2000 words. But hopefully you come back for other reasons than that.


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