Scouting Report: Washington State

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Round #4: Washington State

2010 Record: 1-2 (W - Montana St., L - SMU and Oklahoma St.)

2009 Record: 1-11 (0-9 in the Pac-10)

Series History: USC leads 57-8-4
(Last meeting: 27-6 USC in '09)

Head Coach: Paul Wulff (3rd year)

Wulff was a mastermind at 1-AA Eastern Washington, but he's struggled (4-24) since returning to his alma mater.

Players to Watch: QB Jeff Tuel (Sophomore, Fresno, CA); RB James Montgomery (Senior, Rancho Cordova, CA)

Considering the Cougars are 1-2, Tuel is having an exceptional season.  During Pac-10 media day, Wulff compared him to former Wazzu stars Drew Bledsoe and Ryan Leaf.  While those are lofty expectations, he has tossed 5 TDs to just 1 INT this season and passed for 200+ yards in all three games.

Montgomery is still recovering from a scary injury that he suffered last season when he was rushed to the hospital for acute compartment syndrome, where blood flow to the muscle is restricted.  Doctors were able to save his leg and now he's back in the starting role after knee surgery on his other leg.  He ran for 116 yards and a TD in their lone win.

Strength: Kicking Game

Don't laugh!  The Cougars highlight both their kicker and punter near the top of their media guide.  "Each of WSU's last three wins can largely be attributed to the clutch kicking of senior Nico Grasu."  Grasu hit the game-winning field goal to beat Montana State 23-22. 

Punter Reid Forrest is number two on the Cougars all-time list for punts and punting yards. 

Weakness: Scoring Defense

They rank 113th in the nation in points allowed this season (40.7 points per game).  The defense has yielded 457 yards per game.  They are susceptible to the run (184.7 ypg) and pass (272.3 ypg). 

Washington State Verdict

We can try and hype this game from all angles (and we will!), but the Cougars should have no answers for the Trojans. 

Best case scenario from a Wazzu perspective, Montgomery churns the clock and Tuel converts on third down, while USC turns the ball over and commits penalties to kill drives. 

Worst case, two years ago.  USC romped 69-0 and Wulff conceded that he was just trying to keep his quarterback from getting hurt.

The Trojans have one last game to eliminate mistakes and settle on an identity before the battle heats up next week with Steve Sarkisian and Jake Locker coming to town.

In '09, USC jumped out 20-0 behind Brice Butler, but penalties and turnovers marred the win.

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