OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE
"It's the same pass-happy, Air Raid offense that coach Mike Leach has always run. He's all about leverage of the defenders. He's going to run his spacing routes and then his crossing routes. He puts a lot in the receivers' hands—they have to read the leverage of the guys covering them. They do a damn good job and the quarterback knows exactly where to throw it.
[Junior] Luke Falk is probably more talented than some of Leach's past signal-callers, but it's hard to know because he doesn't read anything, he just runs through progressions. Falk took way too many hits last year, and I'm sure he will again this season, but protection has always been a huge issue for Leach's quarterbacks.
Falk and his receivers are so quick throwing the ball that it talks you out of blitzing them a lot. The teams that hit Falk the most last season did it using three-man rushes and dropping eight in coverage, which made him hold the ball longer. [Senior wide receiver] Gabe Marks is dangerous outside, and their inside possession receivers do exactly what's expected: catch the ball, get whacked and carry on.
Defensively, their strength has always been their big linemen, and they've got another budding star in [sophomore] end Hercules Mata'afa. Senior safety Shalom Luani isn't great in coverage, so you want to attack him, but he's a sure-tackling, heavy hitter. If you can run and make them pack the box, I'd take matchups all day against their corners in man coverage, which they don't play much.
They went 9--4 last season but I thought the whole Pac-12 was down, so I'm not sure they were much better than when they went 3--9 in 2014. This year they might be an even better team, but they might not have as good a record."
Tackles for loss in '15 by MLB Peyton Pelluer, now a junior and the only returnee in double digits.
Yards per carry for now junior RB Gerard Wicks, who'll be pushed for playing time by 5'10", 195-pound freshman James Williams.
Passing attempts by Luke Falk in a 45--38 double-OT win over Oregon, his highest total last season. As a junior he had four of the five games with the most attempts in the FBS.
Yards per carry allowed by the Cougars last year, seventh in the Pac-12. Two of four starting D-linemen are back.
Red zone scoring percentage, which was second nationally.
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5 YEAR TREND
There's plenty of buzz about tailback JAMES WILLIAMS, who sat out last season to recover from a knee injury he suffered as a senior at Burbank (Calif.) High. The 5'11", 195-pound freshman moves well laterally, can break tackles and has reliable hands. He's the sort of dual-threat back that has prospered under coach Mike Leach.
AT BOISE STATE [KEY MATCHUP]
OREGON [KEY MATCHUP]
AT STANFORD [BIGGEST GAME]
AT ARIZONA STATE
AT OREGON STATE