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It’s football time on the Palouse. To open their 2023 season, the Washington State Cougars visit Colorado State this week. Pacific Northwest Sports has all Cougs fans need to know.
PNWS presents what you need to know as the Washington State Cougars play their 2023 season opener at Colorado State. PNWS has Washington State football fans covered.
Who: Washington State Cougars (0-0, 7-6 in 2022) at Colorado State Rams (0-0, 3-9 in 2022).
Where: Canvas Stadium – Fort Collins, Colorado.
When: Saturday, September 2, 2023 – 4:00 PM PDT.
TV: CBSSN. Announcers: Carter Blackburn, Randy Cross. (506.com)
Weather: It will be warm and dry at kickoff. Expect partly sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 80s during the game. (weather.com)
Line: Washington State -10.5. Over/Under: 55.5 (Odds Shark).
The Washington State Cougars have won and covered in 8 of their last 12. Signs point toward the under as Wazzu hasn’t hit the total in 11 of 14 games overall, 4 of 5 road games, and 5 straight games against Mountain West Conference opponents.
Recent history is not on the Rams side. 2022 was a repeat of 2021’s 3-9 record, although they covered in 4 of their last 5 games. Again, the under is in play. The total has gone under in 11 of 12, including 6 straight at Canvas Stadium.
Washington State Cougars
Out – DL Lawrence Falatea (knee). Doubtful – DB Sam Lockett III (hand). Questionable – WR JT Sheffield (undisclosed), WR Leyton Smithson (undisclosed). Probable – RB Dylan Paine (undisclosed).
Colorado State Rams
Out – RB Avery Morrow (suspended). Questionable – RB Keegan Hoiles (undisclosed).
Injury info from Covers.com.
Let’s put all the conference drama on the side for a little while and concentrate on football.
CSU should be a test for the Washington State Cougars. With how Colorado State has performed over the last two seasons, a more accurate term is an important quiz.
In the previous season, Colorado State’s quarterback, Clay Millen, faced a baptism by fire as a true freshman. Millen is known for his accuracy and strong arm, specializing in quick-hit passes.
To counter him, the Cougars’ defensive backs will need to employ press coverage at the line of scrimmage, giving their pass rushers opportunities to disrupt Millen’s pocket presence. While Millen may not be the most mobile quarterback, he will still pose a formidable challenge for Wazzu’s defense, which features several new starters.
Colorado State’s offense also introduces several new faces, with head coach Jay Norvell recruiting several starters from the transfer portal. The cohesion of the Rams’ offense at the beginning of the season remains a significant question mark.
The debut of Cougars’ new offensive coordinator, Ben Arbuckle, promises to be a challenging one. Although Colorado State’s defense may not be spectacular, they are steady.
Quarterback Cameron Ward, known for his mobility, will lead the Cougs’ offense. Supported by a strong running attack led by Nakia Watson, he aims to keep CSU’s defense on their toes.
Ward must also contend with productive edge rusher Mohamed Kamara, who recorded 8.5 sacks in 2022. Additionally, the Rams’ safeties possess excellent coverage abilities, which means Ward can expect shifting double teams. Quick decision-making will be key for Ward when he drops back to pass.
Coach Norvell, now in his second season in Fort Collins after arriving from Nevada, has established himself as a highly competent coach. The Rams will be a better team in 2023.
The Washington State Cougars may find themselves facing a challenging opponent. While victory for Wazzu on Saturday seems likely, they must use this game to build momentum heading into next week’s game against Wisconsin.
Check back with us on Sunday for our takeaways.