Play time is over and the biggest test of the non-conference is here. Washington State has an offense that is going to put a strain even on Baylor's very good secondary, and enough defense to give our sputtering offense problems. This game is going to be tough for Baylor to keep close and tougher to win. But it IS a winnable game.
Washington State has a good QB in Alex Brink leading the offense and he's got a very good corps of wide-receivers including future first-day pick and All-American candidate Jason Hill. CJ Wilson will get his biggest test so far in this game and will have to come up big in order to simply contain him. The silver lining, I guess, is that he'll have some balls thrown his way so he should have opportunities for more interceptions! On the other side, Chris Jordan will keep Anthony Arline busy as well. And the linebackers and safeties are going to have their hands full with Cody Boyd, a 6-8 257-lb TE target. He only had 14-catches last year, but he already has 3 catches for 61 yards and a 50-yard TD pass in the first two games.
Something that I find very interesting is that Brink has only thrown 39 passes in two games, completing 23 of them (59%). I know he played very little in a blowout of Idaho, but that's not very many passes at all. And he's only thrown for 298 yards this year. Brink has been sharing time with Gary Rogers at QB, and the two of them combined have thrown for 443 yards, but Brink only managed 67 yards and 45.8% passing against Auburn in the opening game. Rogers managed 6/9 passing for 83 yards, and played a lot against Idaho, too, so we will likely see Rogers as well.
Rogers is a 6-5 QB that has a huge arm. He doesn't have a lot of mobility, but can put the ball anywhere. He only attempted 5 passes last year, but as I said above he's getting snaps this year.
The running back situation is an interesting one to watch and with games against #3 Auburn and Idaho, it's hard to get a read on what's really going on there. Woolridge, WSUs starting RB, is in the Darren Sproles mold. He's 5-8, stout and fast. Against Auburn he only had 9 carries, but took them for 86 yards. He had a long carry of 42 yards, so his 9.6 average is a bit misleading. He didn't score any touchdowns on the day, though. Darrell Hutsona is another running back for WSU, a JUCO transfer and WSUs top recruit last year. He's another smaller, fast back at 5-10 185-lbs. Hutson had 30-yards on 6 carries against Auburn, with half of those yards coming on one carry.
Against Idaho, the running backs had a much, much better day. Woolridge doesn't appear to have played, but Dwight Tardy had 15 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown, with a long carry of 22 yards. Hutsona had 68 yards on 9 carries with a long of 27 yards. Christopher Ivory only got 3 carries, but took one of them 80-yards for a touchdown late in the game.
The fact that Woolridge didn't play and that WSU played so many players, I'm not sure that Idaho is the best gauge for what their offense is going to do against our defense.
Washington States offensive line is very strong at the tackle position and while inexperienced, they are talented inside. They have a serious lack of depth at the OL, but the starters are very good. Our defensive line better come to play this game, or they are going to be pushed around and put too much stress on our linebackers and secondary to make plays in the running game.
The thing to remember is that this is an explosive offense we are going up against. We can't afford to miss tackles or assignments, because almost anyone that touches the ball can take it the distance. The secondary is going to have to be at their best in not only covering the receivers, but in coming up in run support to contain these runners. It's going to be a heavy task and will be a good measuring stick for just how good this defense is.
Next up is the Washington State defense and how we will likely fare against them.