The No. 23 Washington Huskies will travel to Eugene, Oregon to take on the No.2 Oregon Ducks in a nationally televised game on ESPN this Saturday night. The Huskies have rebounded nicely after a loss to the LSU Tigers, with a win over the Stanford Cardinal. But if the Huskies run defense doesn’t show up strong this week, it will be a party for Ducks tailbacks Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas come Saturday evening.
Steve Sarkisian and his Huskies are off to a good start this season. The squad is 3-1, with a notable Pac 12 conference win over Stanford this past weekend. The Huskie defense held Cardinal running-back Stepfan Taylor to just 75 yards on 21 carries, a 3.6 yards-per-carry average. The blemish in the season came in a 41-3 defeat to Les Miles and his LSU Tigers.
The Tigers ran wild on the Huskies for 242 rushing yards at Death Valley. However, that blemish might just fade away with another conference win over the undefeated Ducks. To do so, the Huskies will have to contain two of the most explosive players in the country in Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas.
Barner, a senior from Riverside, California, has averaged over six yards-per-carry throughout his entire career for Chip Kelly and the Ducks, and this season isn’t any different.
He is the team’s leading carrier with 96 rushes for 605 yards and 9 touchdowns, a 6.3 yards-per-carry average. Barner shredded the Fresno State Bulldogs as he had 201 yards on the ground with 3 touchdowns. If Barner is Batman, his Robin is De’Anthony Thomas.
Thomas is perhaps the more dangerous weapon, if that’s possible. The 5’9, 175 pound speedster is only a sophomore but had a filthy good freshman season as he totaled 595 yards on the ground on just 55 carries. An absurd 10.8 yards-per-carry average. Thomas likes to hurt teams through the air as well.
He caught 46 balls in 2011, getting in the end-zone 9 times. To start his sophomore campaign, the Los Angeles native is averaging nearly 10 yards-per-carry, with just under 500 total yards and 8 touchdowns. He is the Ducks leader in receptions with 19.
The Huskies are going to get a heavy dose of Barner and Thomas, and will need a collective effort to contain the two. Expect these Ducks to not only get several carries, but also see tosses to the flats out of the backfield.
Paul Bentley is a contributor to Rant Sports
Follow Bentley on Twitter at @KKingBentley
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