1 Don’t allow explosive scoring plays. Stanford’s offense is going to march up and down the field, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Cardinal have been fine between the 20-yard lines, but have been one of the country’s worst teams in the red zone. So it’s imperative the Cougars don’t give Stanford any long scores and force the Cardinal to earn it.
2 Receivers need to get off the line of scrimmage. Stanford has one of the country’s best pass defenses because its secondary is willing to play more physical than most. The Cougars have size at wide receiver, and Dom Williams, Isiah Myers and Vince Mayle have beaten some good defensive backs. They’ll need to do it again so QB Connor Halliday can get rid of the ball before Stanford’s big defensive linemen bear down on him.
3 The offensive line needs to have a great day. Last year Stanford nearly knocked two quarterbacks out of the game and their best chance to slow down the WSU passing attack is to get after Halliday. If the passing game struggles, it will be even more important for the line to play well to get the run game going. The WSU offensive line has exceeded expectations so far this season. Now it’s time for their biggest test.
4 Execute on special teams. The Cougars would have beaten Cal if not for a missed field goal and a pair of kickoff returns for scores by the Golden Bears. The week before they almost lost to Utah, which benefitted from a punt return for a TD. With new coaching, and possibly personnel, the WSU special teams are at a crossroads, but they can’t let it affect them against Stanford’s Ty Montgomery, one of the country’s best return men.
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