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Christian Caple’s Keys to the WSU-Stanford Game

What went right

The offense and the defense, in tandem, for the first time this season. Jeff Tuel helped WSU overcome 10 sacks by completing 43 of his 60 pass attempts, taking advantage of a stellar defensive effort that gave the Cougars a chance to win. Stanford managed just 120 rushing yards on 37 carries, failing to exert its will on a WSU team that was overpowered by California two weeks ago.

What went wrong

All those sacks prevented WSU from establishing any kind of offensive rhythm in the first half, even with Stanford and quarterback Josh Nunes failing to do the same. A blown coverage also led to the Cardinal’s first offensive touchdown, spoiling what was otherwise a dominating defensive effort in the first half – 70 of Stanford’s 112 first-half yards came on one play.

Turning point

One of the few mistakes Tuel made led to Stanford’s final touchdown. On third-and-10 from WSU’s 13-yard line, Tuel tried to force a throw over the middle and it was intercepted by Cardinal safety Ed Reynolds, who returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Cardinal a 24-10 lead with 10:43 to play, making a WSU comeback all the more difficult.

Difference maker

Tuel provided some long sought-after stability at the quarterback position and was aided by the play of receivers Marquess Wilson and Dominique Williams. But Stanford’s defense pressured Tuel constantly, led by two sacks apiece from Usua Amanam and Trent Murphy. Cardinal players Amanam, Ben Gardner, Murphy and Trent Anderson finished with 2.5 tackles for loss.

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