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5 Keys for Cougs vs. Eagles

WHEN WASHINGTON STATE’s Luke Falk is surveying the Eastern Washington defense pre-snap, this area of the field figures to draw his attention

1. Attack the safeties.
Eastern's defense was terrible last season and while they should be better in the d-coordinator’s second season and with nine starters back, they remain suspect and the secondary on paper looks thin.

2. Protect Luke Falk.
The Eagles do have some decent pass rushers, and the No.1 priority for WSU is to keep Falk’s jersey clean.  The Cougar offensive line, with a new starting left side in LT Andre Dillard and LG Cody O’Connell, needs to gel early and Week One is the place to start.

3. Attack the line of scrimmage.
Eastern has to replace all five starter from last year’s offensive line.  The Cougars need to test the replacements early and often.

4. Get the ball back.
Portland State last season against the Cougars benefited greatly from ball control and a shortened clock.  Eastern can play catch up if they have to, but they will prefer to play keep away first. The Cougar D needs to scuttle those plans.

5. It's long past time for WSU to be special on special teams.
Is this the game Wazzu breaks the long return for score drought (2003 for kickoff, 2005 for punt return)?  Will WSU’s special teams coverage units looks sharp? Or will they, as in the first half of last season, plague the Cougars? EWU kicker/punter Jordan Dascalo is a WSU transfer.

Kickoff: 5:00 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Matt Moore’s Prediction: Cougs win, 40-28

The Cougars hope to carry forward the momentum from last season, while not forgetting how it began.  A pesky Eastern Washington team is taking the short drive from Cheney to Pullman, hoping to pull off what is now becoming almost routine – an FCS team taking down an FBS squad.

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