Keys to victory for WSU
1Beat ’em up. Southern Utah’s playing style is a reflection of its coach, Ed Lamb: physical, workmanlike and characterized by effort. So it’s no surprise that despite the Thunderbirds’ success throwing the ball last season, they’ve chosen a ground-oriented approach this year, rushing the ball 91 times in two victories. WSU’s defensive line has been tested plenty in that regard already, and they need to use their size and depth advantage to impose their will from the start.
2Score in the red zone. The easiest way to let an FCS team hang around is to finish long drives with field goals instead of touchdowns. Or with turnovers instead of any scores at all. The Cougars have turned the ball over in the red zone in each of their first two games, both via interceptions thrown by Connor Halliday. Executing inside the 20-yard line is a must.
3Possess the ball. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point, but the Cougars can further exploit their depth advantage by keeping SUU’s defense on the field for long periods of time. And again, that means limiting turnovers. Consider that Halliday has turned the ball over six times and thrown just one touchdown pass. If that ratio flips today, it probably means WSU is celebrating a win when it’s over.
4Run a little more. WSU followed a successful rushing performance against Auburn (120 yards) with a less impressive game against USC. A 100-plus yard game should be attainable against the Thunderbirds, if Halliday makes the proper checks and WSU’s offensive line learns from last week’s shortcomings.