Our dear friends at Coug Center were kind enough to answer our usual questions regarding Wazzu Football for us. Check it out below!
1. Which player on offense should Cal fans know about?
Well, there’s the obvious one in Gardner Minshew II, whom you probably already know about because he’s got a mustache and he’s thrown for approximately 54,000 yards in his first eight games, which is definitely some kind of record. But in all seriousness, the graduate transfer from East Carolina has been the Cougs’ MVP so far—and he’s even getting a little bit of Heisman Trophy buzz. He runs the Air Raid largely as it’s meant to be run: Efficiently and aggressively. He completes a high percentage of his passes (294-of-414, 71%), he spreads the ball around to everyone (five different receivers, including a running back, are commanding at least 10% of the targets), and the offense is more explosive than it’s ever been under Mike Leach at WSU (6.4 yards per play). He also almost never takes a sack—the Cougs have the top sack rate in the country (just 1.5%). They hype is absolutely real.
2. Which player on defense should Cal fans know about?
Definitely Peyton Pelluer, WSU’s stud inside linebacker. He’s a sixth-year senior (after breaking his foot early in the season last year) and he’s as stout against the run as just about any linebacker you’ll find the conference, sticking his nose in the line of scrimmage to stonewall running backs. He’s truly the heart and soul of a defense that’s built around being tough against the run—and I know Cal wants to run the ball a ton, so he’ll be a guy to keep an eye on. If he’s involved in a ton of tackles, that’s probably bad news for the Golden Bears.
3. Who’s one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for WSU?
If we move beyond the Mississippi Mustache and on to one of the skill position players, watch out for Dezmon Patmon. He plays the “Z” position (outside receiver to the right) and has been coming on strong recently. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he’s the most physically gifted of WSU’s receivers. He’s coming off a career-best 10 catches and 127 yards against Stanford and was unstoppable for stretches. He’s only just now truly realizing that which he is capable of, which is scary for opposing defenses.
4. What does WSU need to do to win the game?
Play the way they’ve been playing all year and they’ll be fine. I have little doubt that the offense can keep doing what it does—although the Cal defense presents a tougher challenge than most—and the defense just needs to continue to shut down the opponent’s running attack, since I don’t think whoever is playing QB for Cal is going to beat anyone with his arm. Last season, Beau Baldwin found a soft spot and pounded it, but I don’t think that’s going to happen to WSU’s new defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys.
5. What does Cal need to do to win the game?
The formula probably looks a lot like last year: Pound the ball on offense, generate turnovers on defense. A special teams TD probably wouldn’t hurt, either. Basically, it’s going to need to be a game that’s out of character for WSU—which, of course, is always possible.
6. How do you see the game going?
I think the weather combined with Cal’s defense suppresses scoring and keeps the game a little close than we would like. That said, I can’t see Cal’s offense being able to keep up. Let’s go with something like 24–16, WSU.
7. Whom do you most want to punch in the face?
Certainly none of you, not after you beat the Huskies. I just want to kiss and hug you all.
What is your Cal–WSU prediction?
This poll is closed
Big Cal win
Close Cal win
Close WSU win
Big WSU win