Don’t take your eyes off …
For the second straight week, it’s expected Washington State will have to funnel its run game through redshirt senior Deon McIntosh. Coach Nick Rolovich hasn’t offered an update on the status of junior Max Borghi and rumors on a potential return date for the Preseason All-Pac-12 first-team honoree seem to differ. McIntosh has played college football for five years, and in three states, but this is only his second opportunity to be a feature back. The Pompano Beach, Florida, native is shifty and elusive with solid breakaway speed. He displayed good balance to stay on his feet on more than one occasion last week at Oregon State, rushing 18 times for a career-high 147 yards and one touchdown against the Beavers.
When Oregon has the ball …One week after rushing for 269 yards and four touchdowns against Stanford, the Ducks won’t move away from their offensive identity. A team that ran the ball on 60% of its plays in the season opener could see that number jump to 70% if rain or snow impact the passing game. Oregon averaged 6.5 yards per carry while rushing for 306 yards against WSU last season. CJ Verdell, who accounted for 257 yards against the Cougars last season, should again get a high volume of carries, with the quick and electric Travis Dye spelling him . Similar to his predecessor, Justin Herbert, Ducks quarterback Tyler Shough is also a threat in the run game and got loose for 85 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinal.
When Washington State has the ball …Will the Cougars augment their run-and-shoot offense if precipitation becomes a factor? If so, there’s more flexibility to do that than there was a year ago, or more specifically two years ago, when Martin Stadium transformed into a virtual snow globe during the 2018 Apple Cup. The Cougars still put the ball in the air on 59% of their plays in that game, but Rolovich’s scheme is better equipped to lean on the run game if needed. McIntosh proved he could shoulder the load in Corvallis and WSU’s offensive linemen got a refresher in run-blocking during preseason camp while adjusting to tighter splits and slide sets, rather than the straight drop backs that were required in the Air Raid.
Did you know?
The home-field advantage at Martin Stadium won’t be as prevalent as it’s been in the past, but it’s still an advantage . Even in what many considered a down year for WSU’s football program, the Cougars managed to rack up a 5-1 record in their six home games last year. Dating to 2017, WSU has gone 18-2 in its past 20 home games and hasn’t lost to the Ducks in Pullman since 2014, when Marcus Mariota threw for five touchdowns in a 38-31 win for an Oregon team ranked No. 2 in the country.
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