Insider Steve’s WSU Cougars MMQB
For the Washington State Cougars, the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. After having a winnable game slip through their fingers in southern California, the Cougars will travel to Boulder, Colorado to open up their Pac-12 this Saturday against the Buffaloes.
Once again, this will be a game that will come down to two key areas. Will the Cougar defense be able stop an offense with game changing weapons? And can the Cougar offense continue to do what makes them so very dangerous?
This should be a very good test for the Cougars against a quality team on the road.
For the Buffaloes, who come into this game at 1-3 after last week’s 37-17 loss to Ohio State, are led by their two-headed monster of QB Tyler Hanson (83/150 1150 yards, 9 td’s, 1 int, 53.3 com%, 7.67 yds per attempt) and RB Rodney Stewart (72 carries, 278 yards, 3.9 yds per catch.)
It isn’t so much the 23.3 points per game the Buffalo’s are averaging, or Hanson’s 9 passing TD’s, but the multidimensional way they use Stewart. Along with his duties as the primary ball carrier, it’s his pass catching abilities out of the backfield the Cougars need to pay attention to. Through the first four games to date, Stewart has 23 rec, for 304 yards, a 13.2 avg.
Stewart forces defenses to play honest, because if you try and stay back a little to take away the short yardage game, he will beat you with the run. It gives Hanson the perfect weapon to pair along side with WR Paul Richardson (22 rec, 398 yards, 4 td’s, 1.1 ypc) to form a complete offense.
The challenge facing Colorado’s offense is their propensity to have their drives stall. Last week, during the second half versus Ohio State, the Buffaloes had two key possessions end in a punt. It has been a reoccurring problem the Cougars will be looking to take advantage of.
This area will be the difference between a Cougars win or loss.
I think we can all agree that the offense will not be the reason why the Cougars will lose the game. They simply have too good of an offense to be stopped.
It’s the defense that has to be able to match the intensity of the offense and generate a stop when it matters. We saw what happened to this defense when it couldn’t find a stop in crunch time. They allowed 28 unanswered points versus San Diego State in a game in which the Cougars were leading.
The Cougars simply cannot allow Colorado to establish a second half tempo or the Cougars will find themselves on the losing end of a winnable game for the second consecutive time.