1 Throw deep. Quarterback Connor Halliday acknowledges that when he gets angry he throws deep downfield, so the Cougars need to find a way to upset him before the game. Rutgers gave up more passes of 10 or more yards than any other team in the country, and were No. 3 in the country allowing 58 passes of at least 20 yards. The Cougars’ deep receiving corps can have a field day if Halliday goes for the long ball.
2 Limit big plays. Rutgers can be inconsistent on offense but when its playmakers get rolling they can pile up offense in a hurry. Running back Paul James averaged 5.6 yards per carry last season and receiver Leonte Carroo scored all nine of his touchdowns in just four games.
3 Protect the quarterback. This will be the key not just to this game but to WSU’s entire season. Quarterback hits take a toll and every sack could be costly, not just against Rutgers but also down the road. Washington State will be as good as its fifth-year senior quarterback and if he’s in trouble, so are the Cougars’ chance.
4 Create energy. The annual Seattle game, a tradition that will likely end after this season, has hardly seemed like a home game in recent years. With attendance expected to be around half CenturyLink’s capacity, this could have the feel of a true neutral site game. Washington State will need to create its own momentum and can’t expect the crowd to pick the defense up on any critical third downs.