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Some pregame thoughts from WSU


COUGARS

There is a crowd gathering, sort of like on the interstate when a truck leaves the pavement and rolls into a lentil field. And that might be an apt metaphor on what could happen today, so read on.

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• Much of the week it seemed easy to believe this was the first group of Cougars that could compete with USC in a long time (heck, the last year of Bill Doba’s reign, my first covering WSU, the game was a wipeout from the first snap). Not just because Washington State was better, but because the Trojans weren’t. In fact, this might be the poorest USC team in a decade, despite its 3-0 start. But the last few hours my thoughts have turned nearly 180 degrees. And it all revolves around, where it usually does for me, up front. … The Cougar offensive game plan today is simple. They want to test the USC secondary, just like Hawaii did. But to do that, they have to spread the field. Run formations with four and maybe five wides. Run guys into holes in the Trojans defense. And give Jeff Tuel the time to find them. Heck, give him time to find the hot receiver. Which means the offensive line has to do its job, mentally as well as physically. To me, that’s where Kenny Alfred’s loss shows the most, pre-snap reads. If USC stunts, blitzes, drops back, the offensive line has to recognize it and make the play. Then there is the physical challenge of containing people like Jurrell Casey, DaJohn Harris, Armond Armstead and the rest. The Trojans just don’t come after you off the edges, the push through the middle. How the WSU line handles that will tell you all you need to know about the Cougar offense. … The Trojans run the ball so well, WSU may respect it too much. What do I mean by that? The Cougars are going to do what ever they can to stop the USC rushing attack. Which means the defensive backs are going to be on their own against Robert Woods, Ronald Johnson and the rest, including tight end Rhett Ellison, who might be running free after play action. The past three years, WSU defensive backs having to cover one-on-one hasn’t turned out well for the Cougars. It would be hard to believe today will be any different. … Ever since Jared Byers went down with a knee injury against Oklahoma State, WSU has been searching for a fullback in short yardage. The Cougars will try a new one today. Watch for it.

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• That’s all for now. We’ll be tweeting throughout the game at vinceg55. Catch us there and here when we can. Until then …


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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jacob Thorpe Sports reporter Jacob Thorpe covers Washington State University athletics. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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