1 Keep Carroo in front. The Scarlet Knights run the ball more often than not. If the ground game has success, it will be difficult for WSU’s defensive backs to not let their eyes wander over to the Rutgers RBs. Playmaking receiver Leonte Carroo is too good at tracking and securing the football, and too good at sprinting away from defenders for the Cougars to keep him out of the end zone if he gets behind the defense.
2 Maintain gap integrity. There is an easy way to tell if WSU’s defense is doing its job against the Scarlet Knights: If you see two players in white jerseys occupying roughly the same area, that’s a problem. Against Portland State, WSU defenders frequently covered the same gap and Vikings ball carriers found and exploited the resulting open spaces. You can bet Rutgers will do the same.
3 Air it out. WSU’s receivers will typically have an advantage in size and athleticism over the defensive backs they face and should always be better at catching the ball. They are receivers, after all. When WSU throws it deep, it allows those advantages to manifest in jump-ball situations. The Cougars want to do that as much as possible against a depleted Rutgers secondary.
4 Don’t allow big plays. Last year a muffed punt was decisive when the Cougars lost to the Scarlet Knights. Drops, a blocked kick and another muffed punt helped PSU pull the upset last week. All of those are avoidable plays that the Cougars brought upon themselves. In what could certainly be a close game today, WSU can’t afford to give the Scarlet Knights any freebies.
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