Monday, September 11, 2006

Washington State up Next

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.


John said...

Woolridge didn't play because of a deep thigh bruise suffered against Auburn. At the time he had rushed 9 times for 89 yards. He's a load and he'll be healthy against Baylor.
You didn't mention Michael Bumpus, our slot back, who has hands of glue and is a great open field threat. He's also our punt returner. He returned two for TDs his freshman year.

John said...

Oh, about Brink and Rogers. Brink is our QB. The coaches put Rogers in for a series or two every game in case Brink goes down--then Rogers will have had at least some playing time.
Rogers came in for one series against Auburn. We were on our own ten, and five plays--all passes--later, we were in the end zone.
Brink did not have a good day against Auburn, but he was sharp as a razor against Idaho--12 of 15 for over 200 yards.

JudgeChamber said...

Thanks for the info. I found out about the bruise about 45 minutes after writing the article, but hadn't had time to revise it.

I think the difficulty in determining who is the better team in this matchup is the previous opponents.

WSU got waxed by Auburn, but they lost their starting running back.

Baylor really ought to have beaten TCU, but we are installing a new offense and replacing 7 starters on defense. I think we're working the kinks out.

WSU and Baylor both blew out their cupcake opponents last week, though our new offense is still running hot and cold.

I think WSU has an edge in terms of talent AND the fact that your players are already installed in the offense. IF our offense can play well, then I think we can give you a competitive game. If our offense struggles, we're going to be leaving our pretty good defense against a very good offense too many times.