1 Run the ball again. Starting center Elliott Bosch, as well as WSU offensive line coach Clay McGuire, couldn’t have been clearer in their endorsement of the Cougars’ 21 rushing attempts – not counting sacks or quarterback scrambles – last week against UCLA. When WSU can run the ball, it keeps opposing defenders from “teeing off” on the Cougars’ offensive line and quarterback.
2 Big special-teams play. WSU made a bunch of big special-teams plays last week. The problem was that they were all for the other team. A unit that has been solid all season was the only aspect in which the Cougars didn’t outplay the Bruins last week. A return to normalcy against ASU could be the difference.
3 Keep Jeff Tuel healthy. The senior has been hit more times than any quarterback ever should, but he keeps getting back up. And back in the game. After taking a blow to his collarbone area last week that forced him to sit the rest of the way, Tuel is back in the lineup as WSU’s starting quarterback. He had the offense rolling before his injury, so if WSU’s offensive line can keep ASU’s pressure off him, maybe Tuel can pick up where he left off.
4 Sack Taylor Kelly. This hasn’t been a problem for Sun Devils opponents recently. ASU ranks among the bottom 10 teams in the country in sacks allowed, and its offense is considerably more stagnant when Kelly, a fleet-footed quarterback, is being dropped in the backfield. The Cougars applied decent pressure to UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley last week. No reason to think they can’t do it against an ASU team with some injuries up front.