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The most important person vs. Stanford: #SpeedD

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After allowing 51 points to the Arizona Wildcats, WSU’s defense must improve if they want to have any chance against the Stanford Cardinal.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.

-Benjamin Franklin

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The Arizona Wildcats scored their 51 points, as I believe it can only be described, in a stupefyingly efficient way. WSU has given up that many points before (58 technically though I won’t count an interception returned for a touchdown against them) but, even in the darkest days of the “rebuild”, I’m not sure you’d ever find a ratio like this:

Arizona scored nine times ... and only picked up 13 first downs.

I’m not sure what an average number is for a first down to scoring play ratio is but 1.44-to-1 seems remarkably low. What leads to this problem? A host of explosive plays; ones we should be used to Khalil Tate breaking at this point even if he’s just four weeks into his career as a starting quarterback.

For weeks and weeks, the defense showed that they were, in fact, the ones propping up this team, not the offense. It’s the exact opposite of what we’d expect from a Mike Leach coached team but, nonetheless, the defense was propelling this team into the top-10.

I flushed the performance against the Cal Golden Bears because so many things went wrong for everyone, there was just no gleaning anything useful from it. To a certain extent, we can almost do the same after this game; Washington State will never face a quarterback like Khalil Tate again this year and, frankly, he has been and will continue to do the same thing to the rest of the Pac-12 for the remainder of 2017. That’s not to excuse away the performance on Saturday, it was really and truly bad. But Tate (and Arizona, for that matter) could be something that we haven’t seen since the days of Marcus Mariota at Oregon.

Still though, the #SpeedD will certainly face a test this weekend when the Stanford Cardinal comes to town and Bryce Love is in the offensive backfield again. Don’t let David Shaw’s coyness fool you, Love isn’t going to be a “game-time decision”. After last week’s performance against a putrid Oregon State Beavers defense, it’s clear that Stanford’s offense depends almost completely on their Heisman Trophy candidate at running back.

The good news for the defense is, unlike last week, trying to make the opposing offense truly one dimensional can work. Keller Chryst is not Khalil Tate; hell, he’s not even Ryan Burns. It was very apparent in Stanford’s game last week that without Bryce Love, that offense grinds to a halt. So, in my less than expert opinion, it would seem that if you stop Bryce Love, you stop the Stanford offense.

Two weeks ago, the Cougars did what they needed to do against the Colorado Buffaloes and kept Phillip Lindsay contained. The weather conditions surely helped but, lucky for WSU, less than ideal temperatures and the potential for snow are on tap for this weekend as well.

If the #SpeedD can get back to doing what they do best, they can do what they’ve done all year again: lead the Cougars to victory. All they need to do is stop arguably the second best running back in the NCAA.

No big deal, right?

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It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.

-Aristotle

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The #SpeedD, the most important person vs. Stanford.