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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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WSU: 2-minute drill

Attack Miami’s deep passes: Miami’s offense is well-balanced between the run and the pass, putting the ball in the running back’s hands about as often as chucking it downfield. But when Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya does throw the ball, he really lets it rip. Only 14 teams have thrown more passes of 30-plus yards than Miami’s 28, and that number could be even high if not for some injury issues Kaaya dealt with this season. Fortunately for the Cougars, WSU has been very good this season at preventing wide receivers from getting behind the defense, giving up just 10 passes of 30-plus yards, good for seventh nationally.

Make use of the run game: WSU uses its rushing attack sparingly, ranking last among FBS teams with 79.9 yards per game, even though its top three running backs each average at least 5.9 yards per carry. The Cougars would be well-served to keep it on the ground against a Miami defense that gives up 210.5 rushing yards per game and 5.4 yards per rushing attempt.

Keep forcing turnovers: The Cougars set a goal of forcing 24 turnovers at the start of the season – an ambitious one, considering they only had eight takeaways last season – but with one game left that goal is within reach. The Cougars have 21 takeaways this year, but will be hard-pressed to come up with three against a Hurricanes team that takes care of the football. Despite his propensity for deep passes, Kaaya threw just four interceptions this year. Furthermore, the Hurricanes are tied for third nationally in fumbles lost, having coughed up the ball only four times in 2015. The Cougars took great strides in forcing turnovers this year, but Saturday’s opponent won’t give up any easy ones.

Force third-and-long: The Hurricanes simply aren’t very good on third down, converting just 35.9 percent of the time in those must-convert situations. So if the Cougars can limit explosive plays and hold Miami to short gains on first and second down, the defense should be able to get off the field quickly and give the ball back to the offense.

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