September 7, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington State Cougars defensive back Beau Glover (35) and the Cougars celebrate the 10-7 victory against the Southern California Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
This weekend the Cougars host the Southern Utah Thunderbirds in their first home game of the season. After upsetting then #25th ranked USC the Cougars began to pick up some interest from all sorts of people. People started to realize that the Cougars were no longer pretenders but this year, and hopefully many more to come, were contenders. Here are 5 keys to a WSU victory this weekend.
This makes my list of keys that the Cougars need to win for the third week in a row. Turnovers nearly cost the Cougars the game against USC and ultimately cost them the game against Auburn. Connor Halliday threw for 2 interceptions against the Trojans last week, 1 less than he threw at Auburn. Halliday must keep down the interceptions and turnovers this week. Even though the opponent isn’t at the same caliber that USC or Auburn is they still need to be respected as a good opponent.
Again this one is huge for me. The Cougars are coming off stunning the #25 USC Trojans and can’t get too big of a head heading into an opponent like Southern Utah. SUU is a team that beat Northern Arizona, Eastern Washington, Portland State, and Montana last year but is projected to finish 8th in the Big Sky. Still, going into this game thinking it will be a cake walk for the team could be a huge awakening for them. The Cougars must treat this game like any other highly ranked opponent.
Both the offensive and defensive lines need to keep up the great work that they have been doing lately. The defensive line played phenomenal against a highly touted USC team. While the offensive line has also been playing great, they could use some work. The run game was great against Auburn but flopped against USC. Gaining only 7 yards on the ground this past weekend was not what I expected after watching the Cougars put up 120 yards in week 1. Halliday was sacked 4 times against USC but was hurried a few times and was forced to throw away the ball. Allowing Halliday to have some more time in the pocket results in some better and bigger plays out of the offense.
The defense against USC was absolutely amazing. Damante Horton, who received numerous awards for his play was easily the best player on the field. The defense held Marquise Lee to just 27 yards on 7 receptions and the whole offense to just 193 yards. The defense has to keep up this great play this week and weeks to come to build their confidence for games down the road. Games against Oregon and Stanford are going to need to have great defense. Games like these against the “easier” (I say that lightly) are going to help the team find the kinks and gain more and more confidence for the bigger games.
This one really isn’t an immediate key to win, but in the long run will help the team out substantially. As a student at Washington State there isn’t anything better than Cougar football Saturdays. It’s even bigger when it is the home opener. For many it will be the first time they see the new video board that is getting put into Martin Stadium as well as the production on the new Cougar Football Operations Building. Coming off the big win against USC has many fans very excited for the rest of the season. Getting a convincing win at home would be one of the biggest keys to keeping the fans interested in this season.