Christian Caple’s keys to a possible Washington State victory over Washington in Friday’s Apple Cup:
(1)Force Price to pass. It’s not as if Washington quarterback Keith Price can’t throw the ball. He did it quite well last season and he’s become more efficient as this season has progressed. But if the Huskies can’t run the ball effectively with Bishop Sankey, they’ll have to rely on their at-times weak offensive line to protect Price and fuel the passing game. That’s where WSU must start defensively.
(2)Protect, protect, protect. With quarterback Connor Halliday likely sidelined – he didn’t practice this week – WSU’s backup this week will be third-stringer David Gilbertson, who hasn’t played this season. That makes it even more imperative for the Cougars to keep Jeff Tuel from getting hit. They’ll have to improve to do so: The Cougars have allowed 53 sacks this season, more than any team in the country, and have allowed six or more sacks in each of their last four games.
(3)Score early. The Huskies have been prone to slow starts this season, evidenced by their mere 7-0 halftime lead over lowly Colorado last week. The Cougars need to make that happen again, and take advantage by scoring in the first quarter. Applying some kind of early pressure, especially with a homefield advantage, could allow WSU to believe in its chances of winning.
(4) Find ASJ. Washington’s 6-foot-6 tight end, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, is the Huskies’ leading receiver and a finalist for the Mackey Award. And as WSU defensive coordinator Mike Breske said earlier this week, Seferian-Jenkins tends to make his biggest plays when the Huskies are at their most stagnant. If the Cougars cover him well enough, they can limit Price’s options in the passing game.