WSU attempting to secure bowl eligibility playing ASU

WSU trying to continue pure dominance carried from Stanford game       



WSU linebackers Daiyan Henley (1) and Travion Brown (82) tackle Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid during an NCAA football match, Oct. 27.

TREVOR JUNT, Evergreen deputy sports editor

WSU is one win away from being bowl eligible. They are hoping to secure this feat as they face the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday.                                            

The Cougars are coming off their best win of the season over Stanford. They won 52-14. Both the offense and the defense were terrific in the matchup.

ASU is having a tough season. They are 3-6. The Sun Devils lost Jayden Daniels, their starting quarterback last year, as he transferred to LSU. Emory Jones transferred to ASU from Florida for this season, he was thrust into the starting lineup and has not had a good year. Jones has a completion percentage of 62.5% throwing for 1,347 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions.

The star of ASU is running back Xazavian Valladay. He has 157 attempts on the season with 852 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. He is also top-three in receptions on the team with 25 receptions for 209 yards and two touchdowns.

WSU head coach Jake Dickert is fairly familiar with Valladay and the way that he plays because they were at Wyoming together for multiple years.

Against UCLA last week, Valladay had 20 rushes for 92 yards and two touchdowns along with 10 grabs for 89 yards.

Valladay is a monster in the backfield, and to be successful against ASU, WSU needs to limit him.

“I think he’s perfect for their zone scheme running attack and just like Nakia for us, always knew he could be a great pass threat. He’s going out there and showing it every game, he dang near plays every down, he’s been a workhorse for them and he’s been one of the best backs in the Pac-12,” Dickert said. “I don’t think you stop anybody like that. But I think we need to be physical at the point of attack.”

WSU is looking to take advantage of a weak ASU defense that allows over 31 points per game.

Last week against Stanford, WSU had over 300 rushing yards and Nakia Watson led the team with 16 carries for 166 yards and a touchdown with the longest rush of 65 yards.

Cam Ward completed 16/32 throwing for 176 yards with two touchdowns and rushing for 38 yards and a touchdown.

The entire team functioned like a well-oiled machine. The offense capitalized on explosive plays and the defense caused havoc, recovering four fumbles including Jaden Hicks recovering one for a house call and scoring a touchdown.

Dickert gave credit to the team for staying course during the difficulties losing multiple games. He said that there was no big change when it came to the team. Executing better caused them to perform better and was adamant that believing that they could be successful was important.   

“I try to instill belief in our players and our coaching staff each and every day. I think it’s very powerful. Because I think one of people’s biggest limiters is their belief system. If you believe you can or believe you can’t, typically you’re right,” Dickert said.

WSU is favored over ASU by 7.5 points and ESPN gives them a 79.5% chance of winning.

The Cougars will play the Sun Devils at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday in Gesa field at Martin Stadium. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.