CF.C Keys To The Game: WSU vs. Oregon

WASHINGTON STATE will play host to Oregon on Saturday night (ESPN; 7:30 p.m.) as a 23 ½ point underdog according to the latest line from Las Vegas. Here’s how Wazzu can make up every one of those points, and a little bit more …

WHEN WSU HAS THE BALL
1. Connor Halliday must make smart decisions.
Turnovers compound the effects of Oregon's offense -- the way the Ducks put together three quick TDs, and essentially decide the game, is found in how they convert takeaways into points. Halliday simply has to make sound decisions and not force throws. Winning the turnover battle is essential and the offense must do their part and not take unnecessary risks.

2. Trust what they’re doing.
It is too late now to make drastic changes to the system, but we shouldn't want the Cougs to do that anyway. A fifth-year senior running Mike Leach's system should be a force to be reckoned with. And when Oregon lines up in a way conducive to the Cougar ground game, Halliday must call the proper run and not look to pass-first. To continue to throw, throw, throw when Oregon’s D is playing pass would put a check mark in Oregon’s column next to mental game/intangibles.

WHEN WSU IS ON DEFENSE
3. Compress the point of attack.
The zone option read thrives on speed and space. WSU needs to try and take away both. Teams that have given Oregon trouble hit them square in the face and never let up. WSU has been tentative and taken bad angles at times the first three games. They need to do away with that and play fast – 11 hats flying to the football.

4. Don't panic.
The defense is going to get burned, everyone does against Oregon. But when it happens, they have to stay confident and not over-correct. Guys like Daquawn Brown, who are always bouncing around on Cloud 9, will be critical this game – they need to constantly be rallying the troops. The Duck offense has a particular rhythm to it, one designed to hurt teams that try to correct what they did wrong on the previous play.

WHEN WSU IS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
5. Be bold.
WSU is playing with house money so take chances. Oregon relies little on its special teams play, but a blocked punt or on-sides kick by WSU could be a game changer. Or, fake a punt. But do something, even if it ultaimtely is unsuccessful, to get in Oregon’s head.

Check back on CF.C after the game for our wall-to-wall coverage.

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