Washington State football has gotten off to a good start, and have taken care of business in the first two weeks of their season; granted against cupcake competition. Now the Cougs prepare for their first true test tomorrow night in Houston's NRG Stadium as they take on the Cougs? Yep, it's safe to say the Cougs will come out ontop in this one...
But what can we expect in this matchup? What are some keys to the game, or things we should be looking for? Well, lets dive into the numbers shall we?
WHEN WSU HAS THE BALL:
WSU's offense is going up against a defense that is more talented than Northern Colorado, and New Mexico State, but they are far from good. Houston is ranked 99th in SP+ and have given up 7.55 yards per play. That’s a lot, but that includes allowing just 4.4 yards a play to Prairie View A&M. So, what exactly did Oklahoma do? 11.2 yards per play. To put that number into perspective, that's more than WSU could muster against Northern Colorado.
Anthony Gordon had roughly 12 yards per attempt against Northern Colorado. Oklahoma put up 13.8 YPA against Houston, that's a lot. Oklahoma also gashed the Houston run-defense early and often, averaging nearly 10 yards per carry. WSU's running backs should have plenty of space to pick up big chunks of yards on the ground behind the Cougs' excellent offensive line.
Expect plenty of scoring drives from WSU in this game, as Washington State has only had 4 non-kneel down drives come up empty this season. A trend that will likely continue in this game.
WHEN HOUSTON HAS THE BALL:
Houston's offense features a lot more talent than both New Mexico State, and Northern Colorado, but that doesn't mean they aren't without their weaknesses.
For instance, Houston HC Dana Holgorsen played for, and coached with Mike Leach, but Houston's passing offense hasn't been clicking as of late. Houston's QB D'Eriq King has only completed 29 of 53 passing attempts, for just over 300 yards total passing. that's come against two mediocre defenses, (Oklahoma ranks in the mid 60's, and the other opponent was Prarie A&M.) King however is a beast on the ground. Last year he tallied 14 TD's on the ground, and 36 through the air.
WSU is known for struggling against running QBs because of the mis-direction they tend to bring into the offense. The Cougs will have to make sure they don't over run plays, and stay in their lanes, in order to keep King bottled up in the backfield. Houston's O-Line has also been pretty porous to start this season, as they've given up 7 sacks in their first two games, 4 of those came against Praire A&M.
If WSU can force Houston into a lot of longer passing situations, things should be looking good for the Crimson and Gray.
WSU @ Houston kicks off tomorrow night at 6:15 P.M. on ESPN.