Brock Huard’s preview: No. 8 WSU tries to keep rolling on road vs Colorado
This is usually the time of the week we sit down with 710 ESPN Seattle host and ESPN college football analyst Brock Huard to preview the upcoming UW Huskies football game. There is none to preview, however – the Huskies have a bye – but that actually created a great opportunity for Huard to switch his focus to the top-ranked team in the state of Washington: the No. 8 WSU Cougars.
Huard’s broadcast team will have the call for Saturday’s game between the 8-1 Cougs and a Colorado squad that started the year with five straight wins but has since lost four in a row. This will be Huard’s first opportunity to see Washington State as a live spectator this year, and he hasn’t been shy in expressing how excited he is to see Mike Leach’s offense, Tracy Claeys’ defense and especially quarterback Gardner Minshew up close.
Here is what Huard had to say in response to some questions about the Cougars and Buffaloes going into Saturday’s game, which you will be able to hear on 710 ESPN Seattle beginning with the pregame show at 10:30 a.m. and kickoff at 12:30 p.m.
What has been so special about the Cougars this season?
They’re a tremendously close team that gelled together this offseason through emotional adversity and competitive battles throughout. Throw in a gunslinger from Mississippi via East Carolina (Minshew) and you have the eighth-best team in college football.
Why has Minshew fit in so well in Mike Leach’s system?
He has a terrific grasp of the concepts and what the system does to attack space. He’s played a ton of football along the way and he is quick with his eyes, feet and decision-making.
What has contributed to the Buffs’ slide, and are they still dangerous?
They have lost 11 key starters or contributors to injury and their best player, Laviska Shenault, has been out the last month with a toe injury. Shenault elevated everyone offensively with his play-making at wide receiver, running back, tight end and even the wildcat QB position. They are dangerous Saturday because they have nothing to lose, everything to gain (including bowl eligibility) and may have Shenault and a few other starters back on the field.
What is the strength of WSU’s defense?
The strength is twofold:
• The Cougars never play the same look twice in a row.
• Middle linebacker Peyton Pelluer and strong safety Jalen Thompson make them strong up the middle – a necessity for any defense but especially true in the diversified nature that is Pac-12 offensive football.
What do the Cougars need to do to keep their playoff hopes credible?
If WSU limits the explosive plays for the Buffs’ offense and special team units, the Cougs will win. Colorado is so beat up physically and emotionally that it is hard to imagine it can put together multiple, sustained scoring drives. WSU should be able to get after a secondary that has failed to stop anyone consistently, thus forcing the Buffs to play from behind and uphill all afternoon long.
Mineshew aside, which WSU players are you excited to watch?
Offensively, wide receivers Dezmon Patmon and Easop Winston have found their rhythm in the last month and they should have ample opportunities against a set of Colorado DBs that have a hard time tracking and playing the ball.
Pelluer (the ring bearer in my wedding nearly 20 years ago) will have a multitude of collisions with Buffs quarterback Steven Montez and an offense that uses jet sweep, wildcat, and short passing looks. I also love watching walk-on and Sultan High alum Taylor Comfort play defensive tackle. At 5-foot-11 and 270 pounds, he has no business doing what he is doing every week in the middle of the WSU defensive line – but don’t tell him that.