Cougs head to California redwoods

The Cougars’ new Run and Shoot offense is turning heads as of late; they look to continue their impact against a dismal Stanford defense

Travell+Harris%2C+Redshirt+junior+wide+receiver%2C+stumbles+after+being+tripped%2C+continuing+his+rush+for+a+gain+of+yards+during+the+game+against+Oregon+on+Nov.+14+at+Martin+Stadium.

OLIVER MCKENNA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Travell Harris, Redshirt junior wide receiver, stumbles after being tripped, continuing his rush for a gain of yards during the game against Oregon on Nov. 14 at Martin Stadium.

CODY SCHOELER, Evergreen football reporter

The WSU Cougars (1-1) will go on the road to play the Stanford Cardinal (0-2) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California.

Both teams look to rebound after tough losses last week. The Cardinal comes off a close, 35-32 loss against the hot Colorado Buffaloes, while the Cougars come off a 43-29 loss to the No. 11 Oregon Ducks.

Head coach Nick Rolovich said the team took the loss hard early in the week, but they had to flush it and focus on the next game.

“I think they were hurt. I think they were upset,” he said. “[They] missed opportunities and had to flush it this morning and move on to Stanford.”

Freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura had another impressive outing against the Ducks. He threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception.

He will go against a Cardinal defense that has allowed 241 passing yards per game. They did allow Colorado quarterback Sam Noyer to throw for 255 yards on just 15 completions so the potential for a big game from de Laura is there.

The Cougar quarterback is not likely to be under pressure much in the game. The WSU offensive line has allowed their quarterback to be sacked just twice in two games, while the Stanford defense has registered only one sack in their pair of games.

Offensive coordinator Brian Smith said the offense will not change much with less pressure. He said the goal is always to get the ball out of de Laura’s hands fast.

“We want to get that ball in our playmakers hands as quickly as we can,” Smith said. “We’ll push the ball downfield and take some shots, but we’re still trying to get it out of there as quick as we can, get it out on time, and let our little receivers run.”

The ground game will also be open for the Cougars. The Stanford defense is one of the worst in the Pac-12 against the run, allowing 223 rushing yards per game.

Redshirt senior running back Deon McIntosh is third in the conference in rushing with 239 yards. He has eclipsed over 90 yards in each game and is averaging seven yards per carry, which is the most among running backs with over 10 carries.

Rolovich said McIntosh has proven himself as a complete back. He said the running back has played almost every snap, something he has been able to do because of his pass blocking ability.

Redshirt junior center Brian Greene said he is proud of what McIntosh has been able to do this year. He said he is not afraid to go up against some big defensive lineman and block them.

“I love having Deon back there, he’s a really tough kid and he’s really smart,” Greene said. “He sits in meetings with us and will just talk to me about protections.”

The WSU defense will likely have its hand full with the Stanford offense. The Cougars are giving up 516 yards per game, which is second-worst in the conference.

Senior quarterback Davis Mills will lead the Cardinal offense. He threw for 327 yards and one touchdown last week against Colorado in what was his first game of the season after missing the season opener due to a failed COVID-19 test.

Defensive coordinator Jake Dickert said Mills is very poised and does not get rattled very easily. He said the defense will emphasize trying to contain him and keeping the ball in front of them.

“You can just see a guy that’s had reps, throw to spots,” Dickert said. “He can hit the field side comeback, he can take you over the top. He’s just mobile enough to make things happen with his feet. He’s a pretty dangerous player.”

Mills will have a handful of tall receivers to throw to, each of the top three wideouts stands over 6-feet tall. The best of the bunch is junior Simi Fehoko. The 6-foot-4-inch receiver has just eight catches, but he has turned them into 162 yards, good for over 20 yards per catch.

Fehoko and the rest of the receivers will test the WSU secondary that has allowed 320.5 passing yards per game.

The Cardinal will also attack WSU on the ground. Stanford’s rushing has been inconsistent so far in just two games. In-game one against Oregon Stanford averaged 6.4 yards per carry yet they were not able to follow that up against Colorado, only averaging 3.3 yards per carry.

Dickert said he still thinks Stanford wants to establish the run but had to go away from it when it was behind Colorado. He said the Cougar defense will need to have a physical mentality to go up against the power running game.

“We have to establish ourselves, and we have to stop the run early,” Dickert said. “If we can get them behind the chains early, turn them one dimensional, I think that’s when you got an opportunity to attack them a little bit more.”

The WSU Cougars will look to bounce back with a win when they play the Stanford Cardinal. The game will be broadcasted on FS1.