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5 keys for Cougs vs. Ducks: Be sure to zero in on those Oregon linebackers when Washington State has the ball

THE DUCK OFFENSE gets all the press -- but there is one position group on defense in particular, CF.C’s Matt Moore says, that will play a monster role in determining whether Mike Leach and Washington State wins its Pac-12 opener over Mark Helfrich and Oregon.

WHEN WSU HAS THE BALL
1. Attack the Linebackers.
Oregon's switch to the 4-3 defense put more pressure Oregon's least talented position group.  The Cougs need to hit them with both barrels of inside and outside receivers.

2. Avoid sacks and turnovers.
The Duck D has sacrificed size for speed.  They run a lot of corner blitzes and will will put more emphasis on attacking Falk after the Cougar QB tore them apart last year. Falk will will have to get the ball out quickly more often than he did the first three games.

WHEN WSU IS ON DEFENSE
3. Play for third-and-long.
Oregon thrives on unpredictability, but struggles when the defense knows what's coming.  Contain the running game to whatever degree is humanly possible -- you can't take it completely away but you can focus squarely on limiting the damage. Then, make the most of the opportunities on passing downs.

4. Win in the Red Zone.
Oregon will likely have success running the ball, but yards don't equal points.  In what shapes up to be a good old fashioned shootout, the team that can hold their opponent to field goals rather than touchdowns should win.

SPECIAL TEAMS
5. Pin them deep.
The Cougar kickoff and punt coverage teams were a revelation against Idaho.  It is imperative to keep up that same energy and execution, and make the Ducks work on a long field.

Kickoff: 6:30 pm / Pac-12 Network
Matt Moore’s Prediction: 45-40 Cougs

Check back with CF.C after the game for  our wall-to-wall coverage and during the game for lively message board conversation.

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