We've previewed the game to death at this point, so now the question: What constitutes a successful evening for WSU against BYU? Of course we all want a win, but I think most of us in the crowd who consider ourselves realists understand that these guys are facing a bit of an uphill battle against a good team in a place that's tough for opponents to win.
As such, seeing these three things -- even if the Cougs don't win -- will go a long way toward showing us that this team is on the right track after game one.
Jeff Tuel completing at least 65 percent of his passes for at least 7.0 yards per attempt. There has been much speculation about how fast the WSU offense will get up to speed with the Air Raid this season, and both of these figures would be good signs on that front. When people think of the Air Raid, they think of piles and piles of passing yards and touchdowns, but at its core, it's really a ball-control offense where executing the more mundane plays leads to the explosive plays downfield.
Looking back at Leach's Texas Tech teams, 65 percent completion seems to be the minimum benchmark in that category. Additionally, the team usually was between 7.5 and 8.0 yards per attempt -- lower than you might have first expected, but then you remember that Leach likes to throw the ball 50 times. If Tuel is able to be as accurate as he should be, by making the right reads and getting the ball to the right guy, and also is able to maintain some level of explosion within the passing game -- all against a pretty decent defense -- it'll be a good indication these guys are on the fast track.
Three defensive sacks. The last four years have not been kind to the Cougar defense, which has left many of us bracing for the worst. We'll find out tonight whether that's fair or not. WSU was amongst the worst teams in FBS at getting to the quarterback under Chris Ball, even though -- as Vince Grippi noted earlier this week -- he ran an aggressive scheme. (I can vouch for this, having charted a number of games last year: They really did blitz a lot.)
The question is: Will they be more effective with their aggression this year? Will Mike Breske's scheme and smarts allow the Cougs to find soft spots in opposing offense's protection schemes better than Ball? If they can somehow get three sacks against BYU -- one of the best teams in the country at protecting the quarterback, thanks in no small part to Riley Nelson's scrambling ability -- that would be huge not just for tonight, but to calm fears that the defense might not be all that much improved.
Some swagger. Too often over the past four years, this team has looked like a deer in headlights, especially in big moments. If they go down tonight, I want them to go down swinging -- not just schematically, because we know that's going to happen. I'm talking about that look, where a team goes toe-to-toe with the opponent with a "we will never back down" mentality. We saw it a few times under Paul Wulff -- notably against Oregon the last couple of years -- but not nearly enough. I want to see it tonight..
I could have written down a bunch more things, but that's it from me. What do you guys want to see?