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Sports >  WSU football

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

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 28, 2018

Don’t take your eyes off …

They’ll be up against it playing opposite one of the country’s top defensive secondaries, but Washington State’s “Z” receivers, Easop Winston Jr. and Dezmon Patmon, each turned in their best games of the season last Friday at USC. They combined for 12 catches, 198 yards and three touchdowns. Winston is the smaller option, but he’s more elusive and has the best hands on the team. Patmon, at 6-foot-4, is more imposing and can become a matchup nightmare for smaller defensive backs. Julian Blackmon, the Utah corner who will presumably be on his side of the field most of the game, stands just 6-1.

When Utah has the ball …

The Utes have been balanced on offense, at least in terms of their play-calling, with 112 passing attempts on the season and 103 rushing. But they’ve been significantly more productive on the ground with 459 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Utah will need Tyler Huntley and the passing game to pick up momentum at some point, though, and the quarterback has thrown more than 70 passes since firing his last touchdown. In the last two games, the Utes have manufactured only 424 passing yards – something that probably has direct correlation to their points output against Northern Illinois and Washington. They scored just 24 combined points in those contests and will probably need at least that many to match the Cougars.

When Washington State has the ball …

Even in a 39-36 loss to USC, Gardner Minshew and the Air Raid offense were able to move efficiently, completing 71 percent of their passes for 344 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. But the degree of difficulty increases this weekend as the Cougars face another Pac-12 South secondary that looks to be more talented than the last one. Utah’s defensive backs are fundamentally sound, they’re physical and they’re experienced, but they haven’t seen an offense willing to throw it around the yard at the rate Washington State’s will. Likewise, the Cougars haven’t seen a defensive backfield this season that’s better equipped to contain their Air Raid. The Cougars won’t necessarily need to scale down the amount of passes they throw, but Minshew can’t afford to make many mistakes.

Did you know?

Washington State can extend the second-longest home winning streak in program history by capturing a victory at Martin Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Cougars have won nine in a row at home dating back to the 2017 opener against Montana State, something that hasn’t been done since the early to mid-1940s. A 10th straight win in Pullman would put this WSU team in rarefied air. The only other double-digit home winning streaks in program history happened between 1928-33, when the Cougars won 19 consecutive games, and from 1904-08, when they won 14 straight.

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