The biggest storyline surrounding the Washington State Cougars to start the year was about the amount of youth they have on offense. The Cougars have four underclassmen that have been making big plays this season. It is this youth that makes many WSU fans hope that the team could have a successful season behind head coach Mike Leach.
There are three players that the Oregon Ducks will need to watch out for when on defense. Two of these players are underclassmen and one is an upperclassman. They will challenge the Oregon defense and try to make life tough on them. Will that happen? Not likely, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
Here are the youthful Cougars that the Oregon defense will be facing on Saturday.
Connor Halliday (#12, quarterback)
- Redshirt sophomore from Spokane, Washington
- 6-foot-4, 189 pounds
At the beginning of the season, there was a question about the starting quarterback of the Washington State Cougars. The choice was between either Connor Halliday or Jeff Tuel. They were both back ups last season. Halliday played in four of their twelve games last year and had 960 yards on 59 completions with nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
At the beginning of the season, it looked like Halliay was going to be the back up to Jeff Tuel. He did not play in the Week 1 loss to BYU, but played in the next three games for WSU. However, Halliday has been the starter for the Cougars during their last two games. In those two games, he has looked very good. His stats in the two games are 58-for-105, 779 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and four interceptions.
Carl Winston (#3, running back)
- Senior from Harbor City, California
- 5-foot-8, 192 pounds
Carl Winston is one of the few seniors on the Washington State offense this season. Even though his stats this season are not top tier running back numbers, the Ducks will need to keep Winston in check on Saturday. In three of their four games this season, Oregon has given up more than 100 rushing yards (Arizona being the only team to not rush for 100 yards). This could be a the best game of Winston’s season so far if he plays it right.
The main thing keeping Winston from having great games is the game plan of WSU. So far this season, the most carries Winston has in a game is twelve carries (both in wins). So far this season, Winston has 147 rushing yards on 34 carries and one rushing touchdown. He does not look scary, but he could hurt the Ducks if they are not careful.
Gabe Marks (#84, wide receiver)
- Freshman from Los Angeles, California
- 6-foot,167 pounds
The leading receiver for the Cougars this season is the young freshman out of Los Angeles, Gabe Marks. Marks is easily becoming one of the most reliable targets for quarterback Connor Halliday. So far this season, he has 326 receiving yards on 19 receptions with two touchdowns.
Marks does not have the most receptions on the team, but he has one of the most yards per catch on the team. He is a complete deep threat for the Cougars and that can be a dangerous thing for an opposing defense. If the Ducks can contain Marks and that him out of the game, they could beat the Cougars on Saturday.
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Check out my other writings on the Kansas Jayhawks blog, Through the Phog.