Theo Lawson’s keys to a possible WSU victory over Boise State Saturday:
Don’t take your eyes off
The Poly-born defensive linemen on either team. For Washington State, that’s junior defensive end Nnamdi Oguayo, senior nose tackle Daniel Ekuale and junior defensive tackle Hercules Mata’afa. For Boise State, junior defensive end David Moa and sophomore nose tackle Sonatane Lui. The Cougars were responsible for seven tackles-for-loss against Montana State and the Broncos had nine in their season-opening win over Troy. Which is to say, both of these groups are lethal.
When WSU has the ball…
WSU quarterback Luke Falk was content with taking what the defense gave him in the season opener, so the senior never really needed to test out his deep ball or stretch the field. That’s why a running back, James Williams, is the Cougars’ leading receiver through one game with 13 catches for 163 yards. But Falk will almost certainly have to confide in his outside receivers in this game, so expect some more production – or at least, opportunities – for Tavares Martin Jr., Isaiah Johnson-Mack, C.J. Dimry and Dezmon Patmon.
When BSU has the ball…
Who’s under center? Coach Bryan Harsin reaffirmed that junior Brett Rypien is his guy, but even if Rypien starts the game, it doesn’t mean he’ll finish it. Against Troy, the less-agile Rypien was the biggest victim of BSU’s breakdowns on the offensive line and was sacked four times. That caused Harsin to bring in Montell Cozart, a graduate transfer from Kansas who’s more elusive than Rypien. If the Broncos haven’t patched up their problems up front, expect to see more of Cozart, because WSU’s front seven should be at least as disruptive as Troy’s, if not more so.
Did you know?
The Broncos haven’t lost to a Pac-12 team since the 2013 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, when Oregon State cruised past BSU 38-23. Since then, Bryan Harsin’s team has won four times against the Pac-12 – 38-30 versus Arizona in the 2014 VIZIO Fiesta Bowl, 16-13 versus Washington in 2015, 31-28 versus Washington State in 2016 and 38-24 versus Oregon State, also in 2016.