In the past, the heat would be a huge issue of concern for Washington State going into a non-conference season opener (or early game). If you’ll remember back over the past decade the Cougs have not done well on the road, in the hottest conditions. Just for a refresher course, here are the games I’m referring to, in which the Cougs have a 3-9 record.
- 2002 @ Ohio State: L 25-6
- 2003 @ ND (2nd game): L 29-26 OT
- 2003 @ Colorado (3rd game): W 47-26
- 2004 @ New Mexico: W 21-17
- 2006 @ Auburn: L 40-14
- 2007 @ Wisconsin: L 42-21
- 2008 @ Baylor (3rd game): L 45-17
- 2010 @ Oklahoma St: L 65-17
- 2010 @ SMU (3rd game): L 35-21
- 2011 @ SDSU (3rd game): L 42-21
- 2012 @ BYU: L 30-6
- 2012 @ UNLV: W 35-27
I don’t have the resources to figure out what the average temperature at game time was for all these games, but they all had two things in common; they were all in climates much more warm and moist than in Pullman in the early stages of Fall, and the Cougs got extremely, visibly tired in the second half of each of those contests. Granted, the competition had something to do with that, but even last year against a far inferior UNLV team the Cougs wore down and were really only saved by the gun as opposed to having beat down the Rebs in all four quarters.
Also keep in mind that only Oklahoma State and Baylor could accomplish the pace that Auburn wishes to move at. So how does the Cougs’ defense deal with the issues this year? Ken Wilson says the Cougs are planning a little something we really haven’t had the luxury of even attempting over the past decade due to major limitations in depth.
If you can go hard for two plays, then that’s all you are going to play. If you can go hard for a seven play drive, then you can play the whole drive.
In other words, the Cougars plan on substituting frequently, not only for situation, but also for fatigue when necessary and likely at every defensive position. As I said, the luxury is finally afforded for Washington State to do this in several positions and I’m excited to see a lot of bodies on the field, unlike we would have been in the recent past.
I would also expect to see a lot of pressure packages as the early game unfolds, trying to take advantage of the new quarterback’s inexperience, along with the offensive line who is learning a new system. How long that lasts will depend on the ability of Nick Marshall to escape pressure (and he is very dangerous in that aspect), but the Cougs should at least try to rattle him for 20-25 minutes of the football game and see how it goes. Can’t wait to see this play out.