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

Washington State hasn’t gone consecutive games without either Renard Bell (81), Jamire Calvin or Tay Martin hauling in a touchdown pass. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Don’t take your eyes off…

Washington State’s middle linebacker rotation. It’s not a given that Isaac Dotson will make his long-awaited return at this point, but inside linebackers coach Ken Wilson didn’t rule it out when he spoke with Cougfan following Wednesday’s practice. And on the game-week depth chart, WSU added an “or” between Dotson and Justus Rogers, who’s been the Cougars’ replacement at Will linebacker since Dotson left the Oregon game with a lower-body injury. Since replacing Dotson and Peyton Pelluer, respectively, Rogers and Jahad Woods have been enforcers in the middle of the field, helping the Cougars become a top-10 FBS defense. How will WSU utilize Dotson if he’s available? Does he start? Does he work in and out of the rotation? Is he an emergency replacement for the other two? It sounds like Dotson could be in line for some type of return before the season’s over and he’ll have another few weeks to heal before the Cougars play UW in the Apple Cup.

When WSU has the ball…

There’s a good chance a freshman wide receiver will get into the end zone for the Cougars on Saturday. It’s happened in six of the 10 games this season and it’s happened in each of the last three. In fact, WSU hasn’t gone consecutive games without either Renard Bell, Jamire Calvin or Tay Martin hauling in a touchdown pass. Those three account for nine of the 31 passing TDs this season – each have three – and they’ve combined to pile up 943 receiving yards on 76 catches. Bell, a redshirt freshman, and Calvin, a true freshman, have been steady throughout the year, but Martin, another true freshman, caught his three touchdowns in a recent two-game span, against Arizona and Colorado.

When Utah has the ball…

Utah’s Tyler Huntley and Arizona’s Khalil Tate are the only quarterbacks in the conference who rank top-12 in both passing and rushing yards. And both have logged only seven games. Unlike Tate, Huntley isn’t necessarily one to strike fear into opponents because of what he can do with his legs, but his improvisation is certainly something you have to account for. The Utes and Wildcats are also the only teams in the league with multiple players inside the top-12, so the Cougars will have to take care of Huntley, along with tailback Zack Moss (740 yards, five touchdowns).

Did you know?

It’s been 1,141 days since the Cougars and Utes last collided on the football field – and when they last met three seasons ago at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Mike Leach’s WSU staff looked vastly different than it does now. This will be the first trip to Salt Lake City for defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, outside linebackers coach Roy Manning, defensive line coach Jeff Phelps, outside receivers coach Derek Sage and inside receivers coach Dave Nichol. Special teams coach Eric Mele was on the WSU staff, but as an offensive quality control aid.