Cougar football to take on No. 15 Stanford

It will be a clash of play calling when WSU football travels to the Bay Area to take on No.15 Stanford Cardinal.

Stanford (3-1, 2-1) has been successfully running the ball, averaging 159 yards per game according to College Football Reference.

Stanford is the opposite of WSU’s last opponent, the University of Oregon. Oregon runs an explosive offense that takes advantage of big plays, while Stanford plays more conservatively. WSU Head Coach Mike Leach said Stanford has big offensive linemen, and they try to take advantage by pounding the middle as much as possible.

“Oregon is the fastest team in our league (and) Stanford is the strongest,” Leach said. “They both get to the same spot either way, but Oregon gets there because they’re quicker than you and Stanford gets there because they can run right through you.”

The Cougars (2-2, 1-0) are far more explosive on offense than Stanford. The WSU offense is averaging nearly 250 yards more per game than the Cardinal. A large portion of that advantage comes from the WSU passing game.

Completing 74 percent of their passing plays for an average of 387 yards per game, the Cougars are currently ranked fifth in the nation in passing offense behind redshirt junior quarterback Luke Falk.

The passing game will be key for the Cougs if they want to come out of Stanford with a victory on Saturday night.

Stanford could be without two of its starting cornerbacks, sophomore Quenton Meeks and junior Alijah Holder, due to undisclosed injuries.

After being routed 44-6 by No. 5 in the country University of Washington, Stanford will enter the game with an offense that is being held up by junior running back Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffrey’s 634 yards from scrimmage this season account for about half of the Cardinal’s total offensive yards. On top of that, the 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up is averaging 26 yards per return on kickoffs.

Last season, the Cougars held McCaffrey to 133 total yards and no scores. While the Cougs were underdogs in last season’s matchup, the WSU defense does not look back on the 30-28 loss in a good light.

“We lost that game, so obviously we did not do a good enough job as far as executing our game plan,” said redshirt junior linebacker Isaac Dotson. “That’s something we are going to have to fix going into this year.”

To shut down McCaffrey in this year’s contest, the Cougars’ defensive unit will build off of last week’s performance against the University of Oregon and another talented tailback in Royce Freeman who put up 138 yards.

Stanford enters the game with three first year starters on the offensive line. The advantage of having an experienced defensive front against a young Stanford offensive line will give the Cougars an edge if the Cardinal stick to their smash mouth style.

No matter what the matchups look like for the Cougars, the team acknowledged that they will need to bring their A-game on Saturday night if they are to stand up to a nationally ranked Stanford team with something to prove.

Redshirt sophomore left tackle Andre Dillard explained that WSU is expecting Stanford to be coming off a strong week of practice and they will enter the game with extra fire after they were pushed around by the Huskies last Friday.

The game will be played at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in Stanford, California. The game will air live on ESPN and the watchESPN app.