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Sports >  WSU football

Two-minute drill: Keys to victory for No. 19 Washington State against UCLA

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 20, 2019

Don’t take your eyes off …

Gardner Minshew will hog most of the attention before the game kicks off, but once it does all eyes will turn toward his successor, Anthony Gordon, who’s been the nation’s most productive passer through three games. While it’s easy to be enthralled with Gordon’s FBS-leading 1,324 passing yards or his 12 touchdowns or his sterling completion percentage (78.3), the redshirt senior also is averaging 10.9 yards per attempt, indicating that he has great playmakers by his side and isn’t afraid to test the defense deep.

When UCLA has the ball …

He’s one of only six returning 1,000-yard rushers in the conference, but you wouldn’t know it judging by Joshua Kelley’s production after three games. The UCLA senior rushed for 1,243 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018, but he’s not on a 1,000-yard pace this year, rushing only 33 times for 104 yards and one touchdown. That’s mainly because he’s been dividing reps with Demetric Felton, who looks like Chip Kelly’s offense at this point, accounting for 335 all-purpose yards and one TD. Felton, listed at wideout, is UCLA’s leading receiver, with 13 grabs for 171 yards, and also the Bruins’ No. 1 rusher, with 38 carries for 164 yards.

When WSU has the ball …

The Cougars aren’t finishing every drive in the end zone, but when they’ve given the ball back to the opponent, it’s usually been via punt and not turnover. WSU has logged 193 plays this season with only two turnovers. Both came on Gordon interceptions, which is still impressive when you consider that just one of every 61 passes the QB throws is being picked off – that’s fewer than 2%. If the Cougars get through four quarters Saturday without a turnover, it won’t be much of a surprise: the Bruins have played 217 defensive snaps this season and generated two takeaways.

Did you know?

UCLA has started each of the past two seasons with a 0-3 record – something that hadn’t happened in Westwood in nearly a century, when the Bruins lost three consecutive games to open the 1920 and ’21 seasons. On the other hand, WSU has opened each of the past three seasons with a 3-0 record. The only other time the Cougars won their first three games at least three years running was from 1905-09; it happened under four coaches.

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