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A pregame post from Boulder

COUGARS

This might be my favorite blog post of the week. The pregame post. When we look at the upcoming game, pass along our thoughts on how the game will go, then sit and watch the opposite occur. Read on.


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• Talking with a few players over the past couple days, I sense a quiet optimism, tempered with the knowledge it's time to prove something. Colorado presents challenges on both side of the ball, to be sure, but not so many the Cougars feel overmatched. Handle the Buffs' pass rush, and there are opportunities to be had in the passing game, quite possibly big opportunities. But they have to handle the pass rush first. And doing that is a worry. In other words, the onus today is on the offensive line. If it plays well, backed up by the running backs in blitz pickup, this is a game the Cougars could score a boatload of points. Expect to see a lot of short passes early, with the screen game once again being a staple of the WSU offense. … On the other side of the ball, though the statistics don't show it, the Buffaloes have weapons in the passing and running game. Cornerback Nolan Washington will draw a big part of the assignment in controlling Colorado's Paul Richardson, the one guy in the Buff receiving corps WSU fears can take a short pass a long, long way. As for Rodney Stewart and Tony Jones, the main rushing threats, both are quick, elusive and fast. Stewart, in a lot of ways, seems like an older, more experienced Rickey Galvin, though he's a couple inches shorter. … You probably all know by now Colorado leads the Pac-12 with 14 sacks (though the Colorado stats have them with 15, but that's too long a story to go into here). But, thanks to an offensive line riddled by injury, the Buffs have also given up 10. The Cougars have a chance to turn the tables a bit on Colorado, pressuring quarterback Tyler Hansen and hoping to force the 6-foot-1 senior into some mistakes. One thing to worry about there: taking the sacks out of the equation, Hansen has 18 carries for 83 yards, a 4.6 yards-per-carry average. In other words, if he breaks containment, he can pick up some yards. … We picked Washington State to win a close game this week and we stand with that assessment. But that's a skill this team needs to learn. How to win the tight game. Think of the games since ASU routed the Cougars in Tempe last season. WSU has been in three games in which the score was within a touchdown heading into the final quarter: Cal, UW and San Diego State. Washington State has dropped them all. For the Cougars to take the next step, the need to learn how to win those games. Today would be a good start.

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• That's all we have for now. Follow us on Twitter before and during the game. Until then …


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