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Any talk of Washington State’s offense has to start with its passing game. However, the Cougars are even more dangerous this year because they are running the ball effectively as well.
In fact, the Cougars have run the ball more than 50 percent of its offensive plays for an average gain of four yards a carry.
The Cougars will usually run a single back offense that doesn't utilize tight ends, but has four effective receivers on the field at all times.
Luke Falk has completed an absurd 72.6 percent of his passes because the offense will take what the defense gives it, often utilizing quick slants and rub routes.
As soon as the defense adjusts to those quicker routes and crossing patterns, Falk will throw deep in order to keep it honest and mix up the secondary.
In addition, Washington State will use plenty of motion before the snap and sends out its running backs on passing routes more than any other team in the conference.
Therein lays the problem for defenses.
Washington State’s top two running backs, Jamal Morrow and James Williams, average around 6.3 yards per carry.
The opposition will often lineup in a nickel package and Washington State recognizes it immediately, attacking the gaps with its running backs.
Washington State only averages 115 yards on the ground, but that number is deceptive when you take a look at the overall success and how establishing the run will change the defensive scheme.
Arizona has some major questions as to how it is going to handle this offense, especially considering that the tackling this season has been below average.
Washington State has let up 23 sacks this season and a lot of that is because of the amount of times that the Cougars go back to pass.
Does Arizona bring pressure and hope that it gets to Falk or does it drop into coverage and ask the secondary to do something that it likely is not able to do?
There’s no logical reason to think that the defense will be able to contain this offense and it’s a bad matchup for a defense that is relatively thin in the secondary.
Players to Watch
#9, WR Gabe Marks: He has 56 receptions for 554 yards and nine touchdowns and is reliable as they come. Teams have focused on him this season and his teammates have made him pay, but that certainly does not mean that Marks isn’t capable and Arizona will have to respect him as one of the better receivers it will see all season.
#8, WR Tavares Martin: He is a bit under looked with Marks and River Cracraft, but Martin is third on the team in receptions and second in touchdowns. He might be the Cougars’ top deep threat with his speed and is going to be lined up all over the field in order to create mismatches with the safeties.
#25, RB Jamal Morrow: What makes Morrow so dangerous is that he has as many receiving touchdowns, four, as running touchdowns. He is capable of breaking a big run at any time, but the Cougars will also send him on wheel routes and like the rest of the offense, Morrow will create confusion and force a linebacker to cover him in order to create spacing issues.
Keys to the Game
1. Tackle on the first attempt: Arizona is going to be challenged in space and in order for the defense to succeed, its tackling is going to have be the best it has been all season.
2. Stay in your lane: Or in other words, be disciplined. The Cougars like to create mismatches and move the defense around in space, so Arizona’s linebackers and defensive backs are going to have to stay in their lane and play disciplined football.