When one thinks of Mike Leach and the Washington State Cougars, Connor Halliday and their offense is often the first thing that comes to mind. Glancing at a stat sheet from last weeks contest with the second-ranked Oregon Ducks, seven sacks by the Cougar defense on Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota stands out as something that the Utes would most likely be paying attention to this upcoming week. Washington State's defense is loaded with big guys up front, an experienced linebacking corp, and a young, athletic secondary.
The Cougars run a 3-4 defense, and their stout defensive line, with standouts Xavier Cooper (6-4, 299) and Kalafitoni Polé (6-1, 301), held the the high powered rushing attack of the Oregon Ducks to -12 yards rushing in the first quarter. A defensive line that attacked a somewhat inexperienced Oregon offensive line allowed linebackers Cyrus Coen (6-0, 208), Darryl Monroe (6-1, 235), and Kache Palacio (6-2, 227) to put pressure on Mariota and stifle Oregon's rushing attack for much of the game.
The secondary of Washington State is full of athletes, but young and inexperienced. Sophomore Daquawn Brown (5-11, 175) lines up at one cornerback spot, with redshirt freshman Charleston White (5-10, 176) at the other corner. Another redshirt freshman Darium Lemora (5-11, 182) starts at strong safety. Starting at free safety is sophomore Taylor Taliulu (5-11, 206). Another defensive back Sulaiman Hameed (5-10, 182), a true freshman, has seen a lot of action this year. The experience of a player like Deone Bucannon, drafted this year by the Arizona Cardinals, seems to be something that teams have and will key on this season against Washington State. Last Saturday, the Cougar secondary was leaving Oregon receivers wide open. When Mariota had time, he was finding open receivers all over the field.
If the Utah offensive line can protect Travis Wilson and give him time to throw, he should find Dres Anderson, Kenneth Scott, and others open. The Cougar defensive line and linebackers look to be as good as any front seven that Utah has faced so far this season. If Utah can get their play makers into the secondary, they should have much the same success as other teams have had against Washington State this season (success they'll need to keep up with the potent Cougar offense).