Washington State Offensive Preview

Arizona will face one of the most potent offenses in the country on Saturday. Read on to find out about Washington State's offense, including what NCAA record Connor Halliday broke this season, where the Cougars are weak, and more.

Arizona will travel to Pullman this week to face off against Washington State as the Wildcats try to become bowl eligible for the third consecutive season.

The Cougars bring a deceptive 2-5 record to the game, as they have a prolific passing attack that leads the nation in yards per game with 490.

The spread passing attack has been a staple of Head Coach Mike Leach since his days at Texas Tech and the Cougars have adapted to it nicely in the three years under the coach.

Leach's offense is led by senior quarterback Connor Halliday. The signal caller has thrown for over 3,300 yards in seven games, including breaking the NCAA record for passing yards in a single game when he threw for 734 yards and six touchdowns in a 60-59 loss to California.

The quarterback is averaging four passing touchdowns per game, with 28 on the season. As good as Halliday is, he is also helped out by the plethora of talent at wide receiver. (Vince Mayle, River Cracraft, and Isiah Myers) have caught seven touchdown passes each, while Dominique Williams has caught six.

Mayle leads the team in receiving with 57 catches for 781 yards and Cracraft has 57 catches for 676 yards. Myers isn't far behind, grabbing 53 balls for 627 yards.

Redshirt freshman Jamal Morrow has caught 31 balls out of the backfield this season. Short screen passes are what Mike Leach's offense considers a running game, which is evidenced by the complete lack of an actual running attack. In seven games, Morrow has just 53 rushing attempts for 209 yards.

Gerard Wicks, another redshirt freshman, joins Morrow in the backfield, rushing for 195 yards this season. Wicks will generally get the ball in the redzone, which accounts for his three rushing touchdowns.

Arizona will see plenty of passing from Washington State on Saturday. The Cougars pass three out of every four plays and average just under 63 throws per game.

That may pose a problem for the Wildcats, as they have given up 278 yards per game through the air. Additionally, Arizona is dealing with some depth issues on the defense that could be exploited with the passing attack.

One thing is a certainty on Saturday: Washington State will throw the football. Whether or not Arizona can limit the effectiveness of that attack will determine the outcome of the game.

Players to Watch:

#12, QB Connor Halliday: The senior quarterback is perhaps the most important player in the entire game. The offense goes as Halliday does and this is a game where Halliday could throw well over seventy passes.

#21, WR River Cracraft: Just a sophomore, Cracraft's name should be known by just about everyone in the conference. He already has an 86-yard touchdown this season and is a deep play threat on just about every snap.

#23, RB Gerard Wicks: Washington State had a bye week to change things up and Wicks could be a big beneficiary of that. He will get some touches in the red zone, but could also see some extended action in the game.

Keys to the Game:

  • Limit big plays: Washington State has had 12 plays gaining 40 or more yards. Arizona will have to limit those big gain plays if it hopes to slow down the offense.

  • Get pressure on Halliday: The senior doesn't make many mistakes, but when he does, it is usually because there is pressure. Halliday has thrown eight interceptions this season and Arizona would love to increase that number.

  • Force field goals: The Cougars are going to move the football. That much is a given. What Arizona needs to do is bend, but not break. If the Wildcats can limit Washington State to field goals instead of touchdowns, it will go a long way towards leaving Pullman with a W.

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