1 Where does Bumpus get the ball?: Last year against Idaho, Cougars wideout Jason Hill caught three passes and turned them into three touchdowns. As such, the guess here is that Idaho will roll coverage in his direction, opening up things for other Cougars wide receivers. Top on that list is sophomore Michael Bumpus.
From the slot, WSU can move Bumpus to the same side of the field as Hill, using him in underneath routes while Hill clears out defenders down the field. Or, the Cougars can move him to the opposite side of the field and try to take advantage of the attention going towards Hill in that manner. Last year, Bumpus made most of his receptions on underneath routes. That could remain the same this year and in this game, but a key to the Cougars’ offense will be how he plays off of Hill.
2 Under pressure: WSU middle linebacker Will Derting hasn’t been at full strength since his sophomore year. Now recovered from last year’s dislocated wrist and this fall’s hamstring pull, what does the senior see? Two freshmen. Idaho is starting redshirt freshmen Adam Korby at center and Kris Anderson at right guard. Derting, one of the best linebackers in the country and never shy about blitzing, could give those two all they can handle up the gut.
Korby and Anderson will also have to help manage Cougars defensive tackles Aaron Johnson and Fevaea’i Ahmu if Idaho is to have any chance in this game. Between running backs Jayson Bird and Rolly Lumbala, the Vandals have a chance to establish a decent running game and keep the game close. If WSU is able to blow holes up the middle, though, forget it, the passing game and any chance Idaho has for an upset.
3 Harrington to whom? Michael Harrington doesn’t have the best track record against WSU, going 27 of 52 for 228 yards with four interceptions in the last two seasons. This year, if the senior quarterback – or junior college transfer Steven Wichman backing him up – is to improve upon those numbers, he’ll need help from wide receivers.
That’s where the question mark is, though. It’s possible that of three starting wide receivers and one tight end, just one will have played a down of major college football before. Two junior college imports and a redshirt freshman in Matt Askew, Daniel Smith and Rick Harrison take center stage for the Vandals. WSU’s secondary is its perceived weakness, and any big-play ability those newcomers on the edges can show will be much appreciated by their veteran quarterback.
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