The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Cougs to battle Devil

Cougs look to save season in Arizona heat
WSU running back Nakia Watson runs downfield during an NCAA football game against Arizona State, Nov. 12.

After three weeks of hell, the Cougars (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) head to Tempe, Arizona, looking to regain their angelic early-season form against Arizona State (1-6, 0-4 Pac-12). 

WSU is 7-17-2 all-time in Tempe but won their last meeting with ASU 28-18 last season in Pullman. This game is more than just another on the schedule, it is a chance to right the ship.

“So the last three weeks, we didn’t get our way, went in there with a mission, didn’t get it accomplished,” WSU head coach Jake Dickert said. “We’re just fighting for each other, we’re fighting for a bowl game, we’re fighting to extend that season cause we only got 32 days guaranteed left… So it’s on, and I think our heart and passion of how we play following this up will be important.”

The Cougs are hitting the road in back-to-back weeks for the first time this season. They are 1-2 on the road this year. While ASU is not the most intimidating team in the conference, they are definitely no pushover.

The Sun Devils lost to No. 5 Washington on the road last week 15-7 only due to a late Husky pick-six and also put up a solid fight on the road against USC earlier this year. The strength of this ASU squad is running back Cameron Skattebo, who has 418 rushing yards and six touchdowns this season.

“Arizona State does a good job of really being creative and Skattebo is as physical as it gets. Downhill he reminds me of the UCLA back. They’re physical downhill, run behind their pads and he getting everything extra and you’re not going to bring him down just with one guy,” Dickert said.

Stopping the run has been an issue for WSU recently, allowing 248, 178 and 181 yards on the ground the last three weeks. The emphasis this year for the Cougs has been cutting the head off the snake, and earning the right to rush the passer by stopping the run, linebacker Kyle Thornton said.

ASU has had its share of issues through the air, coming in 75th in the country with 249.6 passing yards per game and rotating four quarterbacks this season due to injuries. Currently, the Sun Devils are riding with junior Trenton Bourget, who has surpassed 300 passing yards twice this season.

Coming off another stellar performance, WSU quarterback Cam Ward will need to be the Cougs savior this week. Not only did Ward throw for 438 yards with no turnovers last week, but he also led the team in rushing while the defense allowed 541 yards to the Duck’s explosive offense.

That being said, if there was a week for the Cougar’s defense to shine, it would be against ASU, who ranks 252nd in Division One in points per game. The task for the running game, however, is still a tall one.

“You still have to be balanced. I think that’s the core of what I’ll always say. But I thought we were productive [against UO]. I didn’t feel like we have lost runs and negative runs that got us off, but just being more consistent, keeping people off balance with it,” Dickert said. “We had over 30 plus 40 explosive runs last year, so we got to get back to that and take some pressure off the offense in that realm.”

The Cougs will be without rotational edge rushers Quinn Roff and Raam Stevenson against ASU but should be healthy on the offensive side of the ball. A few players were banged up in the UO game, and could potentially be game-time decisions to watch for as well.

If Wazzu can carry over the offensive momentum from last week and continue to win the turnover battle, it is certainly a winnable affair. But with the ups and downs of the 2023 Cougar season, anything is possible. 

WSU will take on the Devil at 5 p.m. Saturday in Tempe, Arizona, as they look to escape their slide to hell and reach the pearly gates of the win column.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor
Luke Westfall is a junior in Broadcast News from Custer, WA. He is an avid fanatic of the many sports at many levels who spends all his available time indulging in them. Luke began working at the Evergreen in Spring 2022.
COLE QUINN, Evergreen Sports Photographer
Cole Quinn is a photographer and columnist for the Daily Evergreen. Cole primarily shoots sports for the Daily Evergreen and writes album reviews in his spare time. Cole is a junior broadcast production major and sports communication minor from Snoqualmie, Washington. Cole started working for the Evergreen in the fall of 2020 as a photographer. Cole was the Photo Editor during his sophomore year and Deputy Photo Editor for the fall 2022 semester.