Washington State (1-2) host the struggling Oregon Ducks (2-2) Saturday night on the Palouse. If the Cougars are going to pick up their second straight win over Oregon, Luke Falk and James Williams need to be extremely efficient.
Throughout the first three games of the 2016 season, Falk has reverted back to his old habits. He’s been extremely timid with his decision making, and hasn’t really pushed the ball down the field. It’s led several dump down passes that have resulted in gains of four or five yards; while four and five yard gains do keep the offense moving down field, the lack of the deep passes have allowed opposing defenses to key in on those short passes. As a result the offense has struggled to get going at the beginning of the game and after half time.
Falk is going to have hit those deep passes against an exposed and awful Oregon secondary. Like he did last season against Oregon, hitting those deep passes is going to help the offense be more efficient and explosive. And as CougCenter’s Jeff Nusser is fond of pointing out, an explosive offense correlates with more points.
The explosiveness of the Cougar offense will also be helped if Gabe Marks is healthy. A healthy Marks will give the Cougars one of the best receivers back in the conference, which will provide a needed boost to the offense’s explosive potential.
Washington State would also benefit from the rushing attack being as efficient as it was against Idaho (6.5 yards per carry). It’ll be interesting to see if the Cougs continue to attack with the running game against one of the worst run defenses in the country. Redshirt running back James “Boobie” Williams was a revelation last week as he ran for 126 yards on 14 carries against the Vandals. The Cougar offensive was efficient against an over matched Idaho defense, they’ll be facing a stiffer test against Oregon.
As for the Cougar defense, running back Royce Freeman is a nightmare on wheels; and he’s got another effective running quarterback in Dakota Prukop in the backfield. This will be a major strain for a defense that has struggled with running quarterbacks in the past.
Washington State 38
Another back and forth affair ends on another missed field goal for the Cougars.