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Three things to watch as Washington State visits Utah

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NCAA Football: Washington State at Utah Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the fourth Cougar Football Saturday of the season, Coug fans. I hope you’ve all recovered from last week’s beating. It’s time to turn our heads to the Utah Utes, a team that just lost its prized transfer quarterback and are fresh off a player’s only meeting. Are the Utes the third-best team in Utah?

As you know, the quarterback situation at WSU isn’t that much better than it is in Salt Lake City. WSU has already played four quarterbacks in three games, and your guess is as good as mine as to who will play today. Jayden de Laura wasn’t taking first team reps this week, and Jarrett Guarantano and Cammon Cooper were battling it out for QB1. Cooper could be playing near his hometown today, so that’s cool.

Meanwhile, the Cougs need to figure out why they can’t put together a full 60 minutes. Do they simply run out of gas, or is it something deeper?

OK, here’s what I’m focusing on today:

Three Things to Watch

  1. Meaningless Narratives: PJ touched on this, but it’s worth repeating: A Utah win will automatically mean the player’s only meeting worked and the Utes are back on top of the mountain. A Utah loss will mean the player’s only meeting was useless, as they always are. Don’t get sucked into that madness. The game is ultimately won on the field, not in the meeting rooms.
  2. WSU’s quarterback deployment: I’m less interested in who plays quarterback, or even who starts at quarterback. I’m looking at how Rolovich deploys his quarterbacks. The deployment three games in has been very curious—from starting Jarrett Guarantano over Jayden de Laura, to wondering how in the world Guarantano beat out de Laura based on each player’s performance, to bringing in walk-on Victor Gabalis over a one-time four-star recruit after de Laura went out with an injury. Then Rolovich sent de Laura back in for some reason! Who the heck knows what’s going to happen, but this is not a position of strength right now, despite considerable talent.
  3. WSU’s effort: Abe Lucas alluded to the team’s issues after the USC loss when he said, ”I think we’re a team that we have a good initial punch, but not really a chin.” WSU wilted in the second half (well, the end of the first half, really) last week, and it’s becoming a theme under Rolovich. That speaks to a lack of effort when things go bad, or at least a penchant for wilting when the opponent makes a run. Whether WSU goes up in this one today remains to be seen, but we all recall what happened in Salt Lake City last year.

Your College Football Saturday

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Head to 506sports.com for your TV assignments.

The 9 a.m. PDT kickoffs offer Coug fans and followers some interesting matchups. You can see if you can find PJ at the Texas Tech - Texas game on ABC. You can learn if the Utah State loss is bad or....not as bad?...when the Aggies welcome Boise State on CBS. Mike Leach and Mississippi State welcome LSU on ESPN, and then there’s the main dish of the day when Notre Dame and Wisconsin battle in Chicago on Fox.

Those should all be good appetizers before the Cougs kick off at 11:30 a.m.

Soccer shuts out Arizona

Good start to Pac-12 play.

Tally another shutout - Washington State University Athletics
The Cougs opened Pac-12 play with a 2-0 win over Arizona.

Links

Underdog Washington State eyeing redemption in Utah | The Spokesman-Review
SALT LAKE CITY – Midway through Washington State’s 2020 game against Utah, the Cougars’ odds of winning were around 95%, according to ESPN.

The pick: Why Utah will beat Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
The Utes don’t often lose at Rice-Eccles Stadium, and visiting Washington State has not had a pleasant past two years at the venue.

Two-minute drill: Keys to victory for Washington State against Utah | The Spokesman-Review
Don’t take your eyes off …

WSU President Kirk Schulz indicates football coach Nick Rolovich is still not vaccinated as deadline approaches | The Spokesman-Review
Washington State President Kirk Schulz indicated during a faculty senate meeting Thursday that Cougar football coach Nick Rolovich has not received a COVID-19 vaccination.

College football storylines you need to know entering Week 4
Things get very challenging for the Irish, unbeaten Arkansas faces a tall task and we try to find Clemson’s missing offense as we get ready for Week 4.

The biggest analytical what-ifs heading into college football’s Week 4
It’s Week 4 in college football and the what-ifs are already here. The Allstate Playoff Predictor is here to help.

College football schedule, games 2021: What to watch in Week 4, TV channels, Saturday kickoff times - CBSSports.com
Two top 25 matchups highlight college football’s Week 4 Saturday schedule

Washington State, Brian Green Agree to Contract Extension - Washington State University Athletics
Green has led WSU to back-to-back winning seasons.

First Day Complete at 2021 Cougar Classic - Washington State University Athletics
Play continues at the 2021 Cougar Classic Saturday at 10 a.m.

Cougs Set for the Golfweek Red Sky Classic - Washington State University Athletics
WOLCOTT, Colo. – The Washington State women's golf team continues its season-opening road trip this Monday, Sept. 27.

Cougs Excel at Bill Dellinger Invitational - Washington State University Athletics
The Washington State men's and women's cross country teams posted a top-10 finish at the Bill Dellinger Invitational Thursday, Sept. 23.