Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
Sports >  WSU football

Two minute drill: Keys to victory for Washington State against Michigan State

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 28, 2017

Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) runs the ball against Minnesota during the first half of the 2016 National Funding Holiday Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) runs the ball against Minnesota during the first half of the 2016 National Funding Holiday Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Don’t take your eyes off…

“X” and “Z” for the Cougars. Those are WSU’s outside receiver positions and for the first time this season, Tavares Martin Jr. or Isaiah Johnson-Mack won’t be occupying either. The dismissal of Martin Jr. and the departure of Johnson-Mack have forced the Cougars to turn to true freshman Tay Martin at “X” receiver and sophomore Dezmon Patmon at “Z.” Martin has flourished as a rookie, with four touchdown catches in his last five games, and Patmon, a San Diego native who played at Patrick Henry High, will be eager to show out in front of a home audience while making the first start of his career.

When Michigan State has the ball…

The Cougars have to deal with a dual-threat quarterback in MSU’s Brian Lewerke. The first-year starter has made his sophomore mistakes – twice this year Lewerke’s passed for under 100 yards – but WSU won’t want to see him at his best. On two other occasions, he threw for 400-plus and in five games, he’s been able to muster 50-plus on the ground.

When Washington State has the ball…

All eyes are on Luke Falk, the Pac-12 record-holder in passing yards, attempts, completions, touchdown passes and total offense. Falk was seen wearing a cast before practice in San Diego on Tuesday and he’s been careful to keep his left, non-throwing hand in his pocket during many of the team’s public appearances throughout the week. Falk’s injury is unknown, but if it hampers him at all against Michigan State, don’t be surprised to see an early cameo from backup Tyler Hilinski.

Did you know?

A 10-win season is on the table for the Cougars for just the sixth time in program history. WSU went 10-2 under Babe Hollingberry in 1929 and didn’t manage the feat again for another 68 years. But Mike Price delivered a 10-2 record in 1997, then went 10-2 in 2001 and 10-3 in 2002 before handing the keys to Bill Doba. Doba led the Cougars to 10-2 the following season. A victory in the Holiday Bowl would give Mike Leach the second 10-plus win season of his career. Leach’s 2008 Texas Tech team went 11-2 before losing in the Cotton Bowl. The WSU coach is an even 6-6 all-time in bowl games.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Cougs newsletter

Get the latest Cougs headlines delivered to your inbox as they happen.