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October 4, 2013

Keys to the Game: Cal

PULLMAN, Wash. | Following a week where both Washington State (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) and California (1-3, 0-1) got blown out by Stanford and Oregon, respectively. Here are a few keys each school has to strive to accomplish in order to be in the best position to win on Saturday (1 p.m., Fox Sports 1) at Memorial Stadium.


For Washington State:

Establish a solid ground game
Eliminate turnovers
Get Gabe Marks involved early and often
Contain Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs
Get pressure on the quarterback

For California:

Hit the QB every opportunity
Shut down Marks
Convert on 3rd and 4th down
Keep WSU's defense on the field
Attack the secondary deep


If Washington State plans on winning this game they have to establish a solid running game. Every opponent that has faced Cal's defense has gained at least 200 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Connor Halliday will also have to stop turning the ball over and get Marks involved early.

Marks is a focal point in this offense and when the Cougars faced Stanford this past weekend, the offense stalled in a first half that witnessed Marks go into the locker room with 2 receptions for 3 yards at the half. On the defensive side of the ball, WSU has to contain Treggs and Harper, Cal's two best receivers. They must do so by shutting down the short/intermediate routes and getting constant pressure on Jared Goff.

If Cal is going to come out the victor at home, they must take advantage of the Cougars offensive line and get pressure on Halliday making him feel uncomfortable in the pocket forcing him to make mental mistakes. They also need to shut down sophomore standout Marks. The Cougars' leading receiver is Halliday's favorite target and the Cougars offense was stagnant against Stanford when Marks was ineffective.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Golden Bears have to have a balanced attack and really have to outlast the Cougars defense with extensive drives that tire out their secondary. Cal must convert on 3rd and 4th down to keep long drives going and then they have to take a few good looks down the field in the passing game. A portion of the game that the Cougars really struggled with against a quarterback with an identical ability to stretch the field (Kevin Hogan).


I think the Cougars will be able to stick to their game plan and take this game on the road. If the Golden Bears are able to shut down Marks, I think Kristoff Williams or Dominique Williams will be able to create a couple more big plays in the California sunshine that they weren't able to accomplish last week in the Seattle rain. The Cougars take this one 31-24.

Washington State NEWS


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