HOT COUGAR ACTION: Three Keys for WSU VS UCLA

As I started thinking about what topic to cover in today's link post, I settled on the idea of looking at a few keys to the UCLA game. As I was gathering links, I checked my email and noticed Jeff sent out the Cougar Sports Weekly a day early. In an extremely convenient turn of events for me, he tackled keys to the UCLA game. So take it away Nuss!

1.      Tackling. Sounds simple, right? Well, it wasn't so simple last year, as Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman ran all over the Cougs for 400-plus yards. Much of that was after contact, as Franklin is slippery and Coleman is a bruiser. The linebackers were the biggest problem last year, but they've developed into the team's best defensive unit. If they're able to wrap up and force UCLA into some passing downs, they'll have a lot of success.

2.      Shut down the tight ends. SDSU used multiple-tight end sets to their advantage against the Cougs, and UCLA's tight ends are more talented than the Aztecs'. If the Cougars learned something from that game, it bodes well for limiting Richard Brehaut's ability to pass -- which, to be frank, is already limited. If not, it's going to be a long day for the defense, with lots of maddening third down conversions.

3.      Good Marshall. Let's work under the assumption that Marshall Lobbestael is going to start and play the majority of the game. UCLA presents a different kind of challenge for him than SDSU and Colorado. The Bruins hardly ever blitz, and they can't generate any pressure with their front four, either. They've got three sacks. All season. So where the Aztecs and Buffs tried to blitz the snot out of Lobbestael, he's going to have to read the defense and throw into seven-man coverage. Will he be able to be patient in the pocket and quickly move through his progressions to find the open man? To be honest, he's much better at finding the weakness in the defense pre-snap against a blitz front. The good news is that UCLA's defense is terrible, and the secondary is depleted. There should be guys running free ... if he can find them.

If you aren't a Cougar Sports Weekly subscriber, you can fix that problem here.

Cougs on course by staying course | WSU Cougars - The News Tribune
PULLMAN – Todd Sturdy and Chris Ball earned their college degrees more than two decades ago, but some Washington State football fans are convinced that Sturdy and Ball have suddenly become a whole lot smarter.

Wulff says Tuel, Lobbestael could split time initially - WSU Blog articles - MyNorthwest.com
Paul Wulff considers it a good problem to have. But quarterback Jeff Tuel's expected return from a broken collarbone will present a difficult decision for Washington State's head coach: Yank Marshall Lobbestael and his hot hand from the starting lineup or keep Tuel -- the incumbent starter -- on the bench even though he's healthy enough to play.

Pac-12 football: Picks of the Week (will Cal hang with the Ducks?) | College Hotline
WASHINGTON STATE (plus-5.5) at UCLA: Neuheisel is undefeated vs. WSU as head coach at Washington and UCLA, but this is the best Cougar team he’s faced while in Westwood. Don’t feel good about either team vs. the spread but I sure like the over (62). Pick: Washington State.

Washington State's Marshall Lobbestael becomes a big name - latimes.com
The depth chart placed him a notch or two behind his teammates, and he moved up only when there were injuries. But this season, when Washington State's Marshall Lobbestael was given first-string status after starting quarterback Jeff Tuel broke his collarbone, the fifth-year senior was ready to shine.

Lobbestael gets Manning notice - Pac-12 Blog - ESPN
Washington State quarterback Marshall Lobbestael's charmed senior season continues. He has been selected as the Manning Award Player of the Week based on his performance at Colorado last Saturday.

Game-predictions-100611 - Pac-12 Blog - ESPN

UCLA 33, Washington State 30: Confession: Went back and forth -- with the same score -- twice on this one. The homestanding Bruins get the advantage because they are absolutely desperate -- coach Rick Neuheisel is cooked if the Bruins lose -- and the Cougars might not know how to deal with success just yet.

A little extra from WSU tonight - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - Oct. 6, 2011

The weather was a little wetter and a bit warmer today than it was Wednesday, so we're not complaining. Especially considering we'll be in line at an In-N-Out burger in less than 24 hours. Before then, however, we have a short practice report, a summary of Paul Wulff's presser and a special added attraction. Read on.

Subs making difference for Cougars - Spokesman.com - Oct. 6, 2011

PULLMAN – It’s hard to shine in the shadows. But even the glow emitting from fifth-year senior Marshall Lobbestael’s outstanding play during Washington State’s first four games hasn’t been able to dull the contributions made by other Cougar subs.

WSU off to strong start despite quarterback controversy | KPLU News for Seattle and the Northwest

Washington State University is enjoying the best start to its football season since 2006. The Cougars are 3-1 heading into Saturday's game at UCLA. And they're doing it with their backup quarterback. 

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