3 keys to victory for No. 18 Oregon Ducks against Washington State Cougars

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The Oregon Ducks turned a lot of heads last week with a blowout victory over the higher ranked BYU Cougars at Autzen Stadium on Saturday.

While Dan Lanning remains undefeated at home in his Oregon career, the team will have to win in Pullman this Saturday – and their opponent will not be an easy one.

Jake Dickert has the Washington State Cougars rolling early in the season. After a scary game against Idaho to begin the campaign, the Cougs went out and defeated Wisconsin in Week 2 and blew the doors off Colorado State in Week 3.

Trips to the Palouse are never easy, and this year will be no exception. However, if the Ducks are able to follow these three keys, they should find themselves victorious heading into Week 4.

Generate a Pass Rush

Syndication: The Register Guard

The Cougars don’t do damage on offense on the ground, they do it in the air. Washington State averages just 111 rushing yards per game, while transfer quarterback Cameron Ward has thrown for 242 yards per game in his three games so far.

While Mike Leach’s air raid offense isn’t exactly what Oregon will see on Saturday, this team does need to move the ball through the air, and a relatively inexperienced offensive line means the best way to secure a victory in the Palouse is to generate consistent pressure off the edge.

Ward hasn’t done anything as a runner (he has -12 rushing yards on the season) and he does have three interceptions, which leads into the next key:

Take the Ball Away

Syndication: The Register Guard

Washington State is not going to drop 40-50 points like they used to under Mike Leach. But, they do still have an effective offense and more importantly, a tremendously improved defense.

They held Wisconsin to just 14 points and Colorado State managed just seven, so finding ways to get into the end zone will be crucial for a victory.

While Bo Nix and the offense will shoulder most of that burden, securing a turnover (or two) would go a long way toward helping this team come out of Pullman with a third consecutive victory.

Ward has three picks on the season. If the defense can increase that number while forcing a fumble or two – and getting good field position – Nix’s job gets a lot easier.

Protect No. 10

(Photo Courtesy of Ethan Landa)

The Cougars are tied for first in the Pac-12 with 14 sacks on the season. The defense has taken a huge step forward under coach Jake Dickert – although it had nowhere to go but up after the Mike Leach era.

Still, this is a defensive front that garners respect, and Oregon’s experienced and talented offensive line – led by Alex Forsyth – will need to play one of their cleanest games of the season if they want to secure a victory.

Daiyan Henley is the man to watch out for, as he leads the conference in sacks with four.

If Oregon can gameplan to keep Nix safe in the pocket, this should be another victory for Dan Lanning and the Ducks – and their first on the road this season.

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Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire