Washington State, already hurting on defense, now gets to face red-hot Oregon
PULLMAN — The recipe just doesn’t seem quite right, unless you’re trying to make a pancake-flat soufflé.
Start with a defense that has been gashed for 722 yards on the ground the past two weeks, mix in a couple of injuries to veteran players and add at least four freshmen, two of whom have been playing their positions for a week.
Put it on a field with an offense that is positively on fire, leading the nation in scoring and total offense, and bake for three hours on a Saturday afternoon.
However you slice it, the result might be roadkill casserole.
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“You just have to play and you have to play fast,” said Washington State coach Paul Wulff of the homecoming game Saturday against the third-ranked Oregon Ducks. “No one has stopped them, but we sure as heck can try to get in the right position and make plays.”
The Ducks are averaging 56.6 points a game, though the defense and special teams have accounted for six touchdowns in five games.
Their most impressive number is 569.2. That’s the Ducks’ average yards of total offense in running its record to 5-0, 2-0 in the Pac-10.
Washington State (1-4, 0-2) will counter with a defense that’s last in the conference in rushing (255.2 yards per game), scoring (42.8 points), total yards given up (509.8 yards) and pass efficiency (a rating of 149.6).
And it’s a defense that’s in flux.
Most likely out is starting middle linebacker Mike Ledgerwood, waylaid by a neck strain. In is freshman C.J. Mizell, possibly WSU’s most athletic defender but one of its least experienced.
Out is usual starting strong safety Chima Nwachukwu, sidelined by a hamstring pull. In is either freshman Deone Bucannon, who has shown flashes, or redshirt freshman Anthony Carpenter, moved back to safety from cornerback earlier this week.
Freshman Sekope Kaufusi, who has been playing defensive end, was also shuffled this week, moving back to the linebacker spot he played while redshirting last year.