Washington State Football: 3 Takeaways From Season Opening Win at Wyoming

Mike Leach, Washington State football. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
Mike Leach, Washington State football. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images) /
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Washington State Football
MINNEAPOLIS, MN: Head coach Tracy Claeys of the Minnesota Golden Gophers yells at an official against Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the fourth quarter at TCF Bank Stadium on October 22, 2016, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minnesota defeated Rutgers 34-32. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /

The defense was a pleasant surprise 

First-year defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys had the defense prepared for this one. Wyoming’s offense is not as high octane as the Air Raid attack, but it was a good first test for the young group. 

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The Cougars are getting used to life without All-American defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa and showed signs of making that transition by sacking Cowboys QB Tyler Vander Waal three times and holding him to 67 yards passing. 

The pass defense will be further tested in conference play. PAC-12 teams throw the ball much more often than Wyoming did. Games at USC and Stanford will be challenging, along with the season finale against rival Washington and quarterback Jake Browning. The schedule gets much tougher, but road season openers are challenging too. Washington State accepted the challenge defensively.

The Cougars had positioning issues on a 23-yard touchdown run by Avante’ Cox, but overall the defense was solid allowing only 206 yards of offense by the Cowboys. 

WSU can now look forward to home games against San Jose State and Eastern Washington. If they take care of business, they will head to #15 Southern Cal at 3-0 as they face their biggest test with this new team and quarterback.

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Expectations for Washington State are lower than the last couple of years, but Mike Leach’s team is already taking on an underdog type of feel. We will see how long that lasts when conference play begins and the adversity returns.