NOTEBOOK: A surge in run defense

THE TOP PRIORITY on defense this season was to better and more efficiently stop the run. Halfway through the 2011 season, how do the Cougs measure up against that goal?

In terms of one year improvement, exceedingly well.

After surrendering an average of 220.25 rushing yards per game in 2010, WSU has sliced that number to 136.3 ypg this season.

They've surged in the rankings from 115th in the nation last year to No. 47 this season, and from dead last in the conference to sixth.

On paper, WSU should improve on those numbers after this week's tilt against Oregon State. The Beavers rank 107 out of 120 teams in rushing offense.

One potential caveat – OSU starting running back Malcolm Agnew has missed all or most of the past five games with hamstring issues after running for 220-plus yards in the opener against Sac State. He is expected to be back at full strength for the WSU game.

OFFENSIVELY, WSU HAS not capitalized on a number of scoring opportunities of late – close observers feel they're capable of putting many more points on the board.

But they've still scored 217 points in six games this season.

That already nearly matches the Cougs' total of 235 points for the entire 2010 campaign.

THE COUGS HAVE not been as sack hungry as some fans would like, with 11 sacks this season. But half of the Cougs' six opponents rank in the top nine nationally in sacks allowed – Stanford (1), SDSU (T-3) and UCLA (9).

Oregon State, although they've thrown it (269) far more than they've run it (168), is allowing a relatively modest 1.5 sacks per game, placing them in a tie for 37th nationally.

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