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

Don’t take your eyes off …

Renard Bell has taken quick to learning Nick Rolovich’s run-and-shoot offense and through three games is the Pac-12’s leader in multiple receiving categories. The Washington State senior is first in the conference with 98 receiving yards per game and he leads the Pac-12 with 9.0 receptions per game. The only other player in the Pac-12 over 6.5 receptions/game is WSU teammate Travell Harris, who’s averaged 7.7. Bell’s caught 21 passes in his past two games and had what was then a career-high 10 catches for a career-best 158 yards in the Cougars’ last home game, against the Oregon Ducks.

When California has the ball …

They haven’t shown they can do either effectively this season, but the Golden Bears are throwing the ball almost as much as they’re running it, logging 148 rushing plays and 138 passes through their first four games. Although the Cougars didn’t get much pressure on USC’s Kedon Slovis in the first half of last week’s game, they were better in the second half and should be confident in their ability to carry that effort into Saturday’s game. The offensive line is a weak point for Cal, which has allowed 15 sacks and an average of 3.75 per game this season. The Golden Bears haven’t shown pass-protection ability and the blockers aren’t opening too many lanes for running backs, with Cal averaging 3.4 yards per carry.

When Washington State has the ball …

There will be a few things to keep an eye on as WSU’s offense attempts to rebound from its lowest output of the season. First is the availability of running back Max Borghi, who’s been practicing with the team for at least two weeks and could make his season debut against the Golden Bears. If not, it’ll be the Deon McIntosh show for the fourth time. McIntosh had just 65 rushing yards at USC, but that came on 10 attempts and the senior is still averaging nearly 7 yards per carry. Jayden de Laura’s response to last week’s catastrophe in Los Angeles will be another plot line to follow. Teammates have suggested the freshman QB maintained a positive attitude after accounting for three turnovers last Sunday, but how he rebounds between the white lines will also be critical.

Did you know?

The Cougars will be debuting a new uniform combination when they take the field on Saturday. As is tradition, the combo was announced from the team Twitter account Wednesday. WSU will wear anthracite pants, anthracite jerseys and white helmets with anthracite stickers. The closest the team got to Saturday’s combo was in 2017, when the Cougars wore white pants, anthracite jerseys and white helmets in a 45-7 home rout against Nevada.