Know the Opponent: WSU offense has slowed, but still dangerous

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Washington State may have figured something out up in the Palouse. In order to win games on a consistent basis, you can’t just outscore teams. You have to have a defense.

Under coach Mike Leach, the Cougars would spread opponents out and through 40-50 times a game. While they had an explosive offense, they didn’t compete for conference titles.

That may have changed.

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WSU’s offense still spreads opponents out, but they are more methodical and score less, but so far, it’s worked. The Cougars are 3-0, including a road win over Wisconsin. Just a couple of years ago, a 17-14 win in Madison would have been unthinkable.

Now they are preparing for a sell out crowd this Saturday at Martin Stadium as the No. 18 Ducks come rolling into Pullman. Although they’re not going to put 40 points on the scoreboard, that doesn’t mean the WSU offense isn’t dangerous. It’s just dangerous in a different way.

The quarterback, Cameron Ward, is a transfer from Incarnate Word and moving up a level of competition hasn’t affected him in any way. In fact, he has settled down anxieties in the program after former Cougar Jayden De Laura transferred to Arizona.

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Ward has completed 65 percent of his passes and has 727 yards (242.3 ypg) under his belt, with eight touchdowns, but three interceptions.

His favorite targets have been a pair of sophomores in Donovan Ollie and De’Zhaun Stribling. They have combined for 33 catches, 319 yards, and five touchdowns.

The Cougar running game isn’t much to look at as they averaging just 111 yards a game. In comparison, Oregon averages 205 yards a game on the ground. Nakia Watson carries the load for the Cougars, averaging nearly 75 yards a game and he has scored one time.

As for the Cougar offensive line, it has plenty of size, but is low on experience. It’s led by redshirt junior Jarrett Kingston at 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, who started all 13 games last season. Konner Gomness (6-5, 295 pounds) started eight games last season. That’s where the experience ends for the most part.

Redshirt sophomore Christian Hilborn (6-5, 300) started one game last season, redshirt sophomore Ma’ake Fifita (6-5, 305) appeared in all 13 games and started three, and senior Grant Stephens (6-4, 295) is a transfer from Northern Colorado.

So far, the offensive line may be a work in progress as it has allowed nine sacks this season.

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Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire