1) I watched some footage of the Oregon State – AZ game from last week. You know what? There ARE going to be plays to be made out there. There will be some things down the field that WSU can do with the likes of Marquess Wilson and Jared Karstetter. So we might see the biggest “shootout” yet in the Wulff era.
2) Now, the bad news….we are still trying to figure out how to run the football. It’s not dreadful, and once again, it’s window dressing compared to what the Cougs really want to do, which is spread you out and beat you down the field. Personally I think the running game can be a bit overrated, and our success or failure is going to be based on how we do in the air with this new-found spread passing attack. But while AZ looks a little vulnerable deep down the field, their rushing D has been stout this year (number ONE in the Pac-10 in rushing defense at 2.8 yards per carry, 99.6 yards per game!). The Cougs have to at least run it a little bit to keep things honest, otherwise it could be difficult to take advantage of what could be there deep.
The thing is, part of what let Oregon State be so successful in the air was their stud running back, Quizz Rodgers, and the respect AZ had to pay to that running game. Will AZ respect the Coug running game? Well, why should they? After all, our Cougs are averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, worst in the conference. And even though the Coug passing game is strong right now, still, there is nothing worse than being predictable. That’s exactly what AZ is going to want to do to the Coug offense – put ’em in predictable, third-and-long situations, and take their chances.
3) Worst of all? DEFENSE, or lack thereof, for our Cougs. While there was more speed and athleticism on the field last week, maybe more than at any other time in the Wulff era, it’s still very young talent. And those kids are going to make a lot of mistakes, today and for the rest of the year. AZ’s offense might sound simple in terms of perception, in that it at least always seems like all they do is run screens. But that isn’t exactly true. Believe it or not, they will throw the ball down the field. Juron Criner, their top WR, is averaging 17.1 yards per catch. Trust me, you don’t gain 17 yards per catch all on screens! They can go down the field too, and quite well at that. And yes, they are #1 in the conference in passing yards per game, but even though they don’t run it a bunch, they still average 4.3 yards per carry when they do. And both Grigsby and Antolin, their top two backs, each average over 5 yards per carry. That, my friends, is a pretty respectable counter attack for what they really want to do, which is throw, throw, and throw some more.
So, it’s going to be tough today, especially when the ‘Cats have the ball. Hopefully our offensive success can continue, and our crimson soldiers can keep this thing interesting until the end, similar to the Oregon and UCLA games the last couple of games. But expect a lot of offense out there today!
Meanwhile, if you didn’t know, the game is on the Versus network. If you can’t catch the game today, we’ll be back tomorrow with ripped highlights for your pleasure.
We’ll have a post after the game, so feel free to drop by and rant/vent/etc.
Enjoy the game, and as always, GO COUGS!