Photo Credit: Denver Post
No. 15 Washington State (6-1, 3-1) will return to the friendly confines of Martin Stadium for the first time in October when it host Colorado (4-3, 1-3) for Homecoming. The Buffaloes will be bringing the dynamic running threat of Phillip Lindsay to the Palouse.
Lindsay has been Colorado’s most consistent offensive threat this season and was a major reason that the Buffaloes’ were able to squeak by the Beavers last week. The senior tailback was held in check by Oregon State throughout the first half of the game, but finally found his groove in the second half as Colorado shifted more to power running sets.; that’s when he’s at his best, out of power running sets behind the offensive line. If the Buffs are able to consistently run out of their power sets against Washington State on Saturday night, then the Cougs are going to be the next team to steam rolled by the senior.
While Lindsay is a dynamic threat as a ball carrier — he’s averaging 5.6 yards per carry — the senior is also a gifted receiver as well. So far this season he’s averaging 9.4 yards per catch out of the backfield and has provided a safety net for quarterback Steven Montez.
Montez has had to rely on Lindsay as his outlet fairly often this season as Colorado’s offensive line has struggled to adequately protect the sophomore quarterback as he’s been sacked 18 times in seven games (2.6 times per game). Even if the defense isn’t sacking the sophomore, they’re constantly sending him scrambling out of the pocket; which has led to some rushed decisions and a higher number of interception rate than was anticipated from a somewhat experienced quarterback. Washington State’s defense will need to bring the pressure to force Montez out of the pocket and get him to rush his decision-making process.
If WSU is able to consistently generate pressure on Montez throughout the game, the defense should be able to force him into a couple of bad decisions that its ball hawking secondary should be able to take advantage of. The big concern heading into this game is if the undersized defensive line will be able to generate pressure; Cal seemed to figure out a way to stymie its speed and it’ll be interest to see if Colorado attempts to replicate what the Golden Bears did.
On defense, Colorado has taken a huge step back from last season. The Buffs are particularly bad at stopping the run as they’re giving up 5 yards per carry to their opponent’s running backs. This game could be a huge chance for Gerard Wicks to re-establish himself in the running back rotation; Jamal Morrow should also have a huge game because the Buffs have struggled against shifty backs that can explode through the hole like the senior can.
The tailbacks, for both teams, should see an increased workload as 25 mile an hour wind gust and driving rain are predicted for Saturday night.
Because of the rain, Washington State’s passing attack should struggle to produce. Which means that the redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk is going to have to check into the run and that Mike Leach is going to have to call for it too. If the Cougs stay away from the running game, the offense is going to sputter in the challenging weather conditions.
Washington State comes out of the gates fired up and looking for revenge for its loss in Boulder, Colo. last season; as well as looking to put the blow out loss in Berkeley last week. The defense consistently gets off of the line quicker and is in Colorado’s backfield disrupting the Buffs offensive timing. In the second half Lindsay will rip off a couple of big runs and score a touchdown to give Colorado the lead in the third quarter.
But the combination of Wicks, Morrow, and James Williams will be too much for CU’s young and inexprerienced defense. WSU’s three-headed monster will finally click behind an offensive line that starts to gel. The Cougars score a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter and the defense holds to get the Cougs the victory.
Colorado Buffaloes 21
No. 15 Washington State Cougars 28