The Cougars hope to string together back-to-back wins for the first time under coach Paul Wulff when they play SMU — the only team they beat last season — Saturday in Dallas.
PULLMAN — Going into last season’s matchup with Southern Methodist, Washington State’s defensive coaches thought they had a pretty good plan to contain the Mustangs’ run-and-shoot offense.
Keep the receivers in front, make tackles, limit big plays.
Then the Cougars went out and gave up 504 yards of total offense, including a 46-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
But the plan proved to be sound. It just took nearly three quarters for it to work.
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The game, which SMU led 17-0 and 24-7, turned on an Alex Hoffman-Ellis interception return for a score with a little more than a minute left in the third.
From there, SMU’s offense was impotent, the Cougars’ Myron Beck took a second pick back for another score and WSU escaped with a 30-27 overtime win in Pullman.
Now comes WSU vs. SMU, Part Deux. But Saturday’s sequel in Dallas may have a different plot line.
“Their speed is dramatically improved,” WSU coach Paul Wulff said. “Their quarterback, Kyle Padron, he’s a real good football player. … They’ve seemed to stabilize the quarterback situation, which, in that offense, is particularly important.”
SMU, under former Hawaii coach June Jones, won eight games last season and defeated Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl. But Jones’ run-and-shoot offense didn’t really take off until late in the season when Padron, a freshman, replaced Bo Levi Mitchell, the quarterback WSU victimized with the two picks.
Padron finished the season with a 159.9 passer rating, fifth-best in the nation.