College Football News Preview 2020: Washington State Cougars Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Washington State Cougars Offense
Washington State, you go keep being Washington State. Yeah, LSU led the nation in passing yards last year, but it got 15 games to hit just over 6,000 and Wazzu came up with almost 5,700 in 12, averaging a ridiculous 36 yards per game more than the national champs.
And that was after leading the nation in 2018 averaging 374 passing yards per game.
The program has been No. 1 in the nation in passing yards per game in four of the past six seasons, and it’s been in the top ten in each of the last ten years.
Head coach Nick Rolovich made the move back to the run-and-shoot style after his first two years at Hawaii, and his team finished ninth in the nation in passing in 2018 and fifth last season. The pieces are there to pick up where Mike Leach left off, but there was a problem under the former head man.
When the passing game didn’t operate at a stupid-ridiculous level, there was no shot at winning. Even when it was able to crank out at least 400 yards, that didn’t guarantee anything.
Last year’s team one one game when it didn’t hit the 440-yard mark. Going forward, Wazzu has to keep bombing away, but under the new coaching staff it has to be able to win when it can’t fire away, too.
Biggest Key To The Washington State Cougars Defense
Find one thing that works – preferably, the pass defense.
What’s going to be the identity? What’s going to be the calling card? What’s the one thing that opposing teams have to worry about, because last year, there weren’t any concerns by anyone.
To that point, the Cougars have to take teams out of their respective comfort zones. The D had a month to prepare for the bowl again against Air Force, and it still got run over. Teams that wanted or needed to throw, did. And that’s where it starts.
If new defensive coordinator Jake Dickert can get one thing to work, making it the pass defense would be nice.
The 2018 Cougars only allowed more than 300 passing yards three times, and no one came up with more than 325. Only one team was able to get more than 300 on the 2017 Wazzu D.
Last year? UCLA came up with its epic comeback with over 500 yards. Stanford somehow cranked out 504 yards, Oregon State threw for more than 400, and five teams in eight Pac-12 games were able to generate more than 325.
Key Washington State Cougars Player To A Successful Season
QB Cammon Cooper, Soph.
Or any of the possible quarterback options for a coaching staff that will hold an open casting call for the job. Nick Rolovich was never afraid to change around quarterbacks as needed at Hawaii, and he might like a little mobility for the spot, but Cooper is the one who might be able to step in right away and shine.
He was the team’s star recruit of 2018 – Georgia and Tennessee were a few of the schools that wanted him, and Hawaii did, too – with the 6-4, 216-pound size and the pro-style ability to the best player out of Utah as a senior. He’ll have to earn the job, and then if he gets it, he’ll have to keep the offensive production going.
Key Game To The Washington State Cougars Season
at Oregon State, Sept. 26
There’s a shot this can turn into an interesting rivalry over the next few years. There was a rift between Nick Rolovich and Oregon State when the then-Rainbow Warrior coach accused the Beaver coaching staff of trying to recruit Hawaii players.
Last year, Hawaii beat Oregon State 31-28, and Rolovich followed it up by tweeting out the Rose Bowl logo – his team had beaten Arizona a few weeks earlier.
It’s the Pac-12 opener for both teams, and this is a much better Oregon State team than last year – and it’s in Corvallis.
Wazzu has won six straight in the series and last lost on the road in 2012. For both teams, getting this win might be a must to go bowling.
– Washington State Cougars Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Washington State Fun Stats
– Field Goals: Washington State 20-of-21 – Opponents 12-of-19
– Average Passing Yards Per Game: Washington State 437 – Opponents 267
– Opponent 1st Quarter Points: 63 – 4th Quarter Points: 132