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Two minute drill: Keys to victory for Washington State against San Jose State

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 7, 2018, 9:45 p.m.

Don’t take your eyes off…

WSU’s Rush linebackers – two of them in particular. Each playing a significant role for the first time in their careers, Dominick Silvels and Willie Taylor III were a few of the Cougars’ top defensive producers in the season opener against Wyoming. Silvels, a long, rangy former inside linebacker, finished second among WSU players in tackles, while Taylor III, a high school safety, constantly applied pressure on Cowboys quarterback Tyler Vander Waal, with just two tackles but one sack and one forced fumble.

When San Jose State has the ball…

The Cougars will have plenty of chances to defend the pass, especially in the event that SJSU running back Tyler Nevens, who was carted off on a stretcher last week, can’t play in Saturday’s game. The Spartans attempted 52 passes in their opener against UC Davis, eighth most among FBS teams last week. It was a light day of work for WSU’s defensive backs in the season opener against Wyoming. The Cowboys went to the air just 20 times and completed only eight of those, for 67 passing yards. The Cougars will see the pass much more this time, but they also see it plenty during preseason camp, so this shouldn’t be much of a test.

When Washington State has the ball…

It may not be a question of “if” we’ll see Anthony Gordon, Trey Tinsley or Cammon Cooper, but “when” we’ll see any of quarterback Gardner Minshew’s three reserves. The Cougars are expected to blow the lid open early and it could be an important time to get the backup QBs – none of whom has taken an FBS snap – some live reps. A backup has been pressed into action during each of Mike Leach’s six seasons at the WSU helm and there’s no reason to think 2017 will be any different.

Did you know?

The Cougars capped a perfect 2017 home record at Martin Stadium by beating Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 in Pullman. Their seven wins were the most in a single season in program history, and the seven-game home winning streak matches an early-2000s run in Martin Stadium, when the Cougars won all six home games in 2003, then beat Idaho in their first home game of the 2004 season. WSU will be aiming for its eighth consecutive home win on Saturday, something that hasn’t happened since the 1997-98 seasons.

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