Scouting Report: Washington State

The Wildcats are reeling. The Cats looked dreadful against a sub par Stanford team last week. The sometimes potent Wildcat offense scored just six points and squandered a number of decent drives with turnovers or misfires. This week the task gets more difficult as a very good Washington State team comes to town.

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The Cougars are very good. They have the Pac-10's best passer and possibly the West's last Heisman Trophy candidate. Jason Gesser is a great passer who throws a great, accurate ball. He has had some classic games at Arizona stadium, including last year's win.

"Jason Gesser is on heck of a quarterback," said Arizona coach John Mackovic. "He has great timing and anticipation and excellent accuracy. He gets the ball there right on time."

Gesser has a number of talented targets, including Devard Darling and Mike Bush, arguably the conference's best duo. Bush provides a tall target not unlike Reggie Williams and Teyo Johnson. Darling is a burner who has done wonders for the Cougars since transferring from Florida State.

Last week Darrell Brooks did a very good job shutting down Johnson and you can bet he'll get the call again this week against the very dangerous Bush. Bush, like Johnson, is a basketball player who has found a home on the gridiron. Bush is actually a better receiver than Johnson which will make Brooks' task even harder.

The WSU running game has not been as good as the passing game, but Arizona may be a great remedy for that. Last week they struggled to stop Stanford on the ground in the second half.

The good news for Arizona is that they are getting healthier. Defensive End Marcus Smith should be back on the field this week and Brooks should be at full speed. The bad news is the Cats will be forced to play a number of young players, including several in the defensive backfield. Expect the Cougars to attack the inexperienced Cats quite a bit.

The Wildcats have a very inconsistent offense. The same team that scored 28 points against a good Washington team turned around and mustered just six against a poor Stanford team. The Cats are struggling with consistency and that can be attributed to the line. The Cats have struggled to keep players healthy and that has hurt. With Brandon Phillips out the Cats will again shuffle the line and will be forced to rely on three true freshmen, two of which have been injured.

Bobby Wade has been phenomenal for the Cats and will again be the favorite target for Jason Johnson. The rest of the Cats' receivers have shown flashes, but need more consistency. Johnson can be deadly if given time to pass, but rush him and mistakes happen.

The running game is in shambles with Clarence Farmer out. Mike Bell is getting healthy and Beau Carr is a promising player. Getting help from the line is vital to a team that has been terrible the past few weeks.

The Cougars sport a veteran defense and have a very good unit. The put pressure on opposing quarterbacks and do a very good job in keeping their DB's out of one-on-one situations. Marcus Trufant is one of the best players in the conference and you can bet he will be used to contain Wade.

"I did not get a chance to play against Trufant last year," said Wade. "I'm looking forward to it, I had a pretty good game my sophomore year."

OUTLOOK: Both teams have scored a ton of points the past few years. Two years ago the Cougars came up just short and last year they ran roughshod over the Cats. This year they come in as one of the best teams in the country, with just a loss at Ohio State. The Cats will have to make a number of big plays on both offense and defense to have a shot. Frankly, the Cougars are the better team.

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