Wondering whether WSU weather will matter

Time to talk about Washington State, the weekend weather, and the players USC will take to the Palouse and whether they'll all be ready to play against the pass-happy Cougs. And just how pass-happy can they be if it's as cold and rainy as predicted?

Lots of Washington State -- and weather -- talk here today after Thursday's closed practice in helmets, shells and shorts.

Although this time of year, talking WSU and the weather might be the same thing. "We know it's going to be wet," Steve Sarkisian said. And thanks to his stay in Seattle, he added: "It's the Palouse, it'll change."

So the key here seems to be whether "it's going to be wet . . . misty . . . like it is in Seattle a lot," Sark said. "Or really wet . . . I refer to it as soggy."

The weather forecast has a high of 46, a low of 36 and 60 percent chance of rain in Pullman Saturday. So there's a chance it will be "soggy." Or maybe just another day this time of the year in the Palouse.

And yes, Sark said this USC team has "worked a lot of wet ball scenarios early in the week . . . we'll see when we get there." Sark did say he has great confidence in snapper Zach Smith and holder Conner Sulivan to handle it well no matter the conditions. We'll see about the other snaps.

But for point of reference, Sark said his Washington team played Arizona last year in the worst weather he'd ever coached in "and Bishop Sankey ran the ball 40 times."

So get ready Buck Allen and Justin Davis, the latter of whom may be getting more early carries to get him in the flow of the game, Sark said. Although that pits USC against the strength of the WSU defense, Sark feels, "three very good and physical defensive linemen."

The Cougs also "have arguably the best Red Zone defense in the conference," according to Sark. And are well-coached. But on a Mike Leach team, when they're going to throw the ball 80 times and run 110 plays, your defense is going to be out on the field for a great many plays and give up a lot of yards.

The emphasis this week for USC, especially on the back side of the defense, Sark said, is "to build confidence . . . we're continuing to build confidence."

As to how the game-losing drive the secondary gave up against Utah, Sark said he was "on the headset with [defensive coordinator]" Justin Wilcox the entire time that USC went with no blitzes to protect a secondary that had given up two long TD passes in the game-losing last seconds against Arizona State, one they almost replicated at Arizona.

"They needed a touchdown," Sark said of Utah. "You go with five or six and you don't make the tackle and you give up a big play like the 70-yard touchdown to Arizona State."

But then "a four-man rush didn't get contain on the quarterback," and USC lost again on an opponent's last play.


Antwaun Woods is being treated for an ear infection and will travel to Pullman this weekend with his playing status a Saturday decision . . . Also no leaving people behind like last week with Gerald Bowman and George Farmer on the Utah trip that saw 22 walkons traveling . . . Bowman and Farmer should be ready to go with Leonard Williams and Bowman both practicing Thursday . . . Soma Vainuku arrived late after rehab and remains very doubtful . . . Ajene Harris less doubtful but still limited . . . The "worst-case scenario," Sark said about the injured, is they'll all "be back by the Cal game." . . . Placekicker Andre Heidari is not 100 percent and it will be a game-time decision taking in the weather and all other conditions to determine his range for the WSU game, Sark said . . . No practice schedule released yet for the bye week with Cal coming up 12 days later, Nov. 13, Sark said . . . probably do that on Sunday.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.

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