1 Be physical on defense. Few if any teams have the raw speed to keep up with Oregon’s offense, but teams have had success neutralizing the Ducks’ advantage by playing physically and taking out blockers at the beginning of plays. If the Washington State defense sets a physical tone it should be able to get off the field.
2 Play till the whistle. Marcus Mariota is an escape artist playing quarterback and has a special ability to keep plays alive long after it looks like the defenders have him cornered. Some of his biggest plays come as a result of defensive players letting up and assuming he will be sacked only to watch him run past a moment later, so it will be very important for WSU’s defenders to avoid the urge to let their guard down.
3 Recognize defensive patterns. Oregon is going to bring multiple defensive looks against the Cougars and likes to throw in heavy blitzes. Connor Halliday and the rest of the offense need to be aware of subtle shifts in the Ducks defense and adjust accordingly.
4 Strong second-half start. The Cougars have played a good first half against UO the last two seasons and the Ducks have a tendency for slow starts. But the so-called “Oregon ambush” is bound to happen in the third quarter, so the Cougars need to be ready to respond.
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