Oregon aced their first test of the season last weekend, but with Washington in the rear-view mirror and UCLA on the horizon, the theme for this weekend’s game against Washington State is simply eluding a Cougar trap.
Overlooked by many, Washington State is formidable and ready to pounce on the 6-0 Oregon Ducks.
“Coming off that loss (to Oregon State) I feel like our team is more hungry,” Washington State linebacker Darryl Monroe told reporters on Monday. “We let that one get away, so we have to go out there and really take this one away from Oregon. It hurts, and we have to release some of that built up anger.”
The Cougars (4-3, 2-2 in Pac-12), and quarterback Connor Halliday are 8th in the nation in passing yards per game with 346.9, but possess a bit of a turnover problem, one that starts with their quarterback. Halliday has thrown for 14 touchdown passes in the season, but also 13 interceptions. Oregon’s secondary, led by defensive back Terrance Mitchell’s three interceptions, should look to take advantage of Halliday’s gun-slinging mentality.
Whether Ducks’ running back De’Anthony Thomas will play is still questionable for the game against the Cougars. Against Washington, Thomas suited up, but didn’t play. When asked this week if he was going to play against the Huskies, Thomas told reporters that he “wasn’t close at all.” Sophomore running back Byron Marshall has rushed for over 100 yards in three consecutive games since Thomas hurt his ankle on the opening play against California. The Cougars defense has been stingy the last two weekends against the run of pass-oriented teams in Cal and Oregon State, but should have their hands full against the No. 3 rushing team in the nation. Oregon is averaging 324 rushing yards a game through the first six games of the season.
Additionally, the Oregon passing game has taken giant strides in the past few weeks. Sophomore quarterback, and emerging Heisman trophy frontrunner, Marcus Mariota has accounted for 721 yards and eight touchdowns in the past two weeks. On the season he’s totaled 25 touchdowns without committing a single turnover.
The odds certainly lie in Oregon’s favor, but the Cougars aren’t a team to be overlooked.