2013 Opponent Preview: Washington State

We begin our look at Auburn's 2013 opponents with Washington State.

Coming off a 3-9 season in year one at Washington State, Coach Mike Leach is looking for bigger and better things in his second year with the Cougars.

With productive quarterback Connor Halliday returning along with his top four receivers, Auburn will face an air raid attack in the season opener on Aug. 31 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Quarterback Connor Halliday took over as the starter last year, Leach's first at Washington State.

Last season Washington State's offense averaged 330.4 yards per game with 23 touchdowns through the air. Returning four wide receivers with at least 40 receptions in 2012, the offense should be balanced through the air, but on the ground it's a different story. Averaging a paltry 29.1 rushing yards per game, the Cougars had just six rushing touchdowns and allowed 57 sacks for 366 yards in losses.

Defensively, Washington State allowed 33.7 points per game and gave up 46 or more points in a game four times in 2012. Totaling 35 sacks and capable of putting pressure on the quarterback, the Cougars must replace Travis Long after he made 61 tackles with nine and a half sacks and 13 tackles for losses.

Linebackers Darryl Monroe and Cyrus Coen are the playmakers on defense for Leach in year two, but they'll need plenty of help up front to improve Washington State's win total.

Wazzou is counting on Darryl Monroe to be a leader on defense.

Top Offensive Player

With Mike Leach's history it's no surprise that wide receivers are the deepest and most talented group on the offensive side of the ball. Sophomore Brett Bartalone (5-10, 187) is the leading returning receiver with 53 catches for 435 yards and five touchdowns, but the most dangerous player is 6-2 sophomore Dominique Williams. With 34 receptions for 546 yards and three touchdowns, Williams is a big-play threat for the Cougars and is part of a unit that will put the pressure on the Auburn defense.

Top Defensive Player

Sophomore linebacker Darryl Monroe returns for the Cougars after a monster freshman season at middle linebacker. The Orlando native earned Pac 12 honorable mention honors after making 80 tackles and adding three sacks. At 6-1, 235 pounds Monroe has the size to play physically inside, but also the speed to make plays from sideline to sideline.

Schedule Tough Stretch

After opening the season on the road at Auburn and USC, Washington State's brutal stretch comes later in the season. In week five the Cougars face Stanford at home followed by a road trip to California. Home games against Oregon State and Arizona State sandwich a trip to Oregon for a five-week stretch as tough as anyone in the country will face this season.

Newcomer To Watch

Needing help on defense, Washington State brought in junior college transfer Lyman Faoliu for spring practice and he should have a chance to make an impact this fall. A 6-3, 266-pounder, Faoliu is capable of playing defensive end, but also worked at linebacker for the Cougars in the spring.

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