BYU will look to rebound from two consecutive losses on Saturday when they travel to Pullman, Washington to take on Washington State. Washington State comes into the game riding a three-game winning streak in conference play. Here are three keys to a BYU victory over Washington State.
1. Force Washington State to respond to adversity
It's been well documented, but in case you haven't heard, Washington State fired head coach Nick Rolovich and multiple assistant coaches on Monday for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. As a result, the Cougars of Washington State will feature a depleted coaching staff on Saturday against BYU.
Due to these unique circumstances, Washington State's ability to make effective in-game adjustments will be limited. If BYU can force Washington State to face some adversity, the red Cougars might not have the ability to pull themselves out. There are multiple ways BYU could create havoc early on: an early turnover, an early lead, or by simply confusing Washington State with looks they haven't seen on film.
BYU comes into the game with a clear coaching advantage. That advantage needs to show up early on Saturday.
2. Avoid turnovers
Washington State's defense creates turnovers at an elite level. Through seven games, they are tied for third in the country with 16 turnovers forced.
In BYU’s first seven games, turnovers have played a major role in nearly every game. In its 5-0 start, BYU turned the ball over only two times - both of those turnovers came against Arizona State. On that night, BYU negated the Arizona State turnovers (quite literally in the case of Tyler Allgeier's forced fumble) by forcing four turnovers of its own.
In two losses, the blue Cougars turned the ball over five times and were (-4) in turnover margin.
In 2021, BYU's winning formula is straightforward: take care of the football, force field goals on defense, and take advantage of scoring opportunities.
3. Stop the run
Against Baylor, BYU was gashed in the run game allowing an average of 6.4 yards per carry and 303 total rushing yards. Against Boise State, the Cougars struggled to stop the run in important moments.
Stopping the run was an emphasis in practice this week.
Washington State has not been prolific on the ground - the red Cougars comes into the game averaging 3.7 yards per carry. BYU must stop the run if they want to leave Pullman with a win.