No one should have to explain the importance of what a win of this magnitude would mean for the program. It’s the Apple Cup – the most important game on the Washington State schedule.
Winning this Saturday would instantly validate everything Paul Wulff has been trying to get accomplished in such a short period of time as head coach. A loss would make that constant swirling of criticism surrounding him seem almost deafening.
In that regard, the Apple Cup has become a must win for Paul Wulff.
To say the Cougs are coming into this game struggling to find consistency is an understatement. They are in desperate need of a win after having lost six of their last seven games by an average score of 35-22, including a heartbreaking loss last weekend in overtime to Utah.
On the surface it gets much worse for the Cougars. After being hit midway through the third quarter last week, redshirt freshman QB Conner Halliday suffered a lacerated liver, ending his season after one of the most promising starts in WSU history. Leaving the offense in the hands of QB Marshall Lobbestael.
Some feel this plays directly into the hands of the Washington Huskies, who are coming into this game with one of the worst passing defenses in the conference.
With Lobbestael’s propensity to check down in to some rather horizontal passing situations, it could allow Washington to be able to play up on the line of scrimmage more consistently, allowing their speed to make an impact on the ball. Click Here for all your Cougars STATS.
Know Your Enemy – Washington Huskies
Make no mistake about it, the Washington Huskies can, and will move the football. Not only are they dangerous at the QB, RB, and WR positions, but their offensive line is so good at the point of impact that defenses have to figure out alternative ways to get at Keith Price.
Because of that stability up front, it has allowed Chris Polk (241 carries, 1241 yards, 10 TD’s) to run free up the middle and around the edges. The success in the running game has allowed Keith Price (198-296, 2334 yards, 26 TD’s, and a 66.9 com%) to be one of the more effective QB’s in the conference.
Whether it’s play action down the field to Kason Williams or Jermaine Kearse or wheel routes to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Huskies can be deadly on offense if you let them get comfortable early.
The Huskies defense on-the-other-hand has been the weakness the entire season.
Here are the Huskies defensive rankings in conference.
- 7th in rushing yards allowed per game (152.09 yards)
- 11th in rushing TD’s per game (2.18)
- 9th in passing attempts allowed per game (37.3)
- 9th in completions allowed per game (22.91)
- 11th in passing yards allowed per game (278.2 yards)
- 10th in total yards allowed per game (430.3 yards)
- 10th in TD’s allowed per game (4.1)
- 10th in total points allowed per game (34.4)
Can you find the common denominator with those numbers? If you guessed that you can throw against the Huskies, you guessed correctly.
The Huskies are continuously dropping back in soft zones leaving the underneath, and the middle of the field wide open. This will allow Marshall Lobbestael to get into an early rhythm with some early completions.
This will lead to bigger plays in the passing game which should allow Ricky Galvin to play free.
Keys to the game
This is the Cougars final game of the season, and it is their biggest. Wulff cannot hold anything back. This is Washington State’s bowl game.
It will start by attacking the Huskies at the heart of their problem. They cannot cover man-to-man or cover down field. Take your shots early and often because the Huskies will give it to you all day.
Keep your mistakes to a minimum, the Huskies are allowing opposing QB’s to convert 50% of the time on 3rd downs (75-150). Try to mix in Ricky Galvin, but keep the offense geared to what Paul Wulff likes to do. Spread out defenses with multiple looks.
On the defensive side of the ball, you must not allow Chris Polk the ability to run free. During last year’s 35-28 Husky win, Polk rushed for 284 yards on 29 carries with 2 TD’s. The Cougs had no solution for stopping Polk, and couldn’t figure out how to consistently tackle him on impact.
Instead of playing in a short zone, load the box with 7 or 8 bodies. Drop safety Casey Locker (team’s best hitter) into running lanes and let him put his helmet in the chest of Polk. If the Cougars can neutralize the Husky running game, they can control what the Huskies will be able to do.
Much like Oregon State was able to accomplish last week
News, Notes, and Injuries
The Cougs struggled in practice along the offensive line with Dan Spitz and David Gonzales out. The good news for the Cougs is Spitz returns to practice today, while Gonzales will return on Thursday. Both will be available on Saturday.
QB Conner Halliday was released from the ICU late yesterday afternoon. He won’t make the trip to Seattle this weekend.
WR Isiah Barton’s season is over. The senior WR tore his ACL against Utah, and that will leave receivers Kristoff Williams and Bobby Ratliff getting the balk of the catches inside.
Washington State @ Washington at Century Link Field in Seattle
Kickoff @ 4:30pm
TV: Versus ch. 34
Radio: 770 KTTH and Sports Radio 950 KJR
Vegas odds: Washington -9 (Opened at 6.5)
Insider’s Hopeful Prediction: Just the sight of the Cougars taking the field will scare the Huskies into complete shock. Cougs win in a route 72-0
Here is my real prediction: Cougs win on a last second FG by Andrew Furney. 31-28
|Nov 26-7:30 PM ET||Record|
|WSHST||4-7 (1-4 V)|
|WASH||6-5 (5-1 H)|