Washington State Football: 5 Keys To A Victory – Rutgers


The Cougars are opening up their season against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and I will take a look at the 5 keys to a victory for the Cougars. Since neither team has played a game this season it will be huge for Washington State to start the season off on a great foot and see give everyone a good preview of what is to come this season.

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Every week I will take a look at my 5 keys that will be needed for the Cougars to come away with a win.

Get Off To A Good Start

Its the first game of the season and starting off on the right foot will mean big things for the Cougars. They have a great shot at going 3-0 before heading into the Oregon game on September 20th and setting the tone early will be great for them.

Connor Halliday was 400 yards short of 5,000 last year and has a great chance of getting to that mark again this year. He will have all of his receivers from last year and they are all ready to get going. Starting this game off quick and with big plays puts Rutgers, who is already struggling with their players, down and gives WSU an even better shot.

The game is being played on a Thursday in Seattle meaning a lot of students are not able to make the game as school started this week. Ticket sales are down from last year so the Cougars won’t necessarily have the large crowd to help them out as much if they get down.


The Washington State secondary is young. Very young. Rutgers quarterback, Gary Nova, threw for 14 interceptions last season while only playing in 10 games. Nova threw at least 1 interception in every game but 2 last season and 1 of those games he was out early with a concussion and only attempted 4 passes.

The Cougars lost both starting corners as well as their strong safety, leaving just Taylor Taliulu at free safety. Last season the Scarlet Knights averaged 235.6 yards per game and 26.5 points per game. Getting the young safety group all in sync and getting them in their groove is going to be a huge part of this game. If Nova has the ability to pass deep and often on the Cougars secondary it is going to be a long day for them.

Oct 5, 2013; Berkeley, CA, USA; Washington State Cougars safety Taylor Taliulu (30) during the game against the California Golden Bears at Memorial Stadium. Washington State defeated California 44-22. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Attack Secondary

Washington State may have a young secondary but the Scarlet Knights secondary is hurting. They lost their starting cornerbacks from last season and both of their backups went down with injuries. We will likely see Rutgers second string running back be the starting corner for them.

We have all seen Halliday air the ball out and when he notices their weaknesses it will be a huge thing for Halliday to attack them often. The Cougars don’t have the best running game, even though that is expected to change, which will leave them with their passing game. If the Scarlet Knights secondary struggles early on it wouldn’t surprise me to see Halliday have another game like he did last season against Oregon.

Young Players Get Good Looks

As I mentioned earlier the Cougars are really young and inexperienced at secondary and are also young in a few other places. The offensive line is bringing in 3 new players, the running backs are new, and some of the linebackers are also new. Getting these new young players their early looks and getting their experience up will be huge for them.

Inexperienced players like Calvin Green, Jeff Farrar, Tracy Clark, Cole Madison, Eduardo Middleton, and running back turned safety Teondray Caldwell will be able to use this game to figure out the kinks as well as be a huge part for the team. Not only is getting the experience soon good for the team in this game but getting them some good playing time early on will help the team for the rest of the season.

Win The Trenches

The offensive line is very young and it will be a test to see if they can block the Rutgers defense and protect Halliday enough for him to get the ball off and expose the defense. The running game is said to be improved which will allow Halliday a break if he can’t find his groove but it will also be important that they can block for the run and allow the running backs to find space.

The Cougars defensive line lost only 1 player last year in Ioane Gauta so the players we will see will be experienced but it will be huge for them to get into the backfield and disturb the Rutgers offense. With the secondary so young it will be huge for Nova to have to be forced to throw a ball he may not want to or forced to hand the ball instead.