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Cougars fumble most of the keys to the game: Review

EARLIER IN THE WEEK, we revealed five keys for Washington State if it wanted to beat Washington. How did the Cougars fare? Let's go to the scoreboard:

1. Protect Peyton Bender: When it comes to guarding the quarterback, sacks are the first number people assess. So at first glance, it appears the Cougars did OK here, giving up only two sacks. But clearly, the eyeball test wasn't as forgiving. The Cougars' offensive line protected Bender well early in the game, but as the action progressed, so did Washington's pressure. Bender was responsible for many of his errant throws, but others were the product of having to hurry or get buried.

2. No turnovers, or at least limit them. A cynic might say who cares about the other four keys? When this one is as bad as it was for Washington State - 7 turnovers, SEVEN! -- nothing else matters. And when three turnovers are returned by the defense for touchdowns, well, those are numbers that are difficult, probably impossible, to overcome.

3. Contain Washington RB Myles Gaskin. The UW freshman had 138 yards, but here's another stat that needs a little closer inspection. The Cougars weren't as bad in defending Gaskin as it appears. WSU handled Gaskin just fine in the first half, holding him to 26 yards on 11 carries. Suspect defensive coordinator Alex Grinch would take that all day long. It's the third quarter where Gaskin began to gash the Cougars, running 12 times for 70 yards.

4. Force QB Jake Browning to beat WSU safeties. Another factor that we'll never know for sure, because of the seven turnovers. Browning completed 14 of 20 passes for 203 yards, and took very few shots. The one big one was a 43-yard pass to Isaiah Renfro late in the second quarter, a play where Browning caught WSU corner Darrien Molton peeking in the backfield and Renfro ran right by him. But that one play was big, as it allowed UW to take a 17-3 halftime lead and clear momentum into the second half.

5. Watch out for Tricky Pete. Washington coach Chris Petersen didn't go to the gimmick bag often, in part because he didn't have to. But Pete turned to one during the first quarter that was very effective, a double reverse that sprang Chico McClatcher for a 26-yard touchdown run to give the Huskies a 7-3 lead.


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