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Previewing the Washington State Cougars

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The Ducks will be looking for revenge in week 5

NCAA Football: Washington State at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

After last season’s debacle in Eugene, the Ducks enter their first road conference game looking for revenge as they travel to Pullman, WA to take on the Washington State Cougars.

Quick facts:

League- Pac-12

2015 Record- 9-4 overall, 6-3 in league

2015 Points Per Game: 32.4

2015 Points Per Game Allowed: 28.8

Head Coach: Mike Leach, 5th year

Defensive Coordinator: Alex Grinch, 2nd year

Trends:

Count the Cougars as one team where I’m not quite sure why they’re not receiving more hype. Washington State turned the corner last year until losing in the Apple Cup 45-10, albeit in a game where starting quarterback Luke Falk was out with an injury. They recovered well enough to knock off the Miami Hurricanes in the Hyundai Sun Bowl 20-14. Offensively, Washington State might have lost a 1,000-yard receiver in Dom Williams but they have they fortune of returning leading wide receiver Gabe Marks as well as quarterback Luke Falk.

Defensively, things are constantly improving for the Cougars and this year they return both the leading tackler and leading interception man from last season. Recruiting was pretty successful this year as well, with the prizes being a four star quarterback and two four star wide receivers (as if they needed any more). This game no short on storylines has the makings to be a great one in a rocking environment as Washington State has already sold out Martin Stadium for the October 1st matchup.

Key players:

Luke Falk. #4, junior quarterback, 6’ 4”, 214 lbs.

An impressive 2015 campaign where he put up 38 touchdowns to 8 interceptions while throwing for over 4,500 yards. Of course it helps to put up these numbers when you throw so often, but Falk did it with success with a close to 70% completion percentage. If things go well for the Cougars this year, he is a dark horse Heisman candidate.

Gabe Marks, #9, senior wide receiver, 6’ 0”, 188 lbs.

With Dom Williams departing, Marks enters the season as the unquestioned go-to man for Luke Falk this year. Last year he put up a stellar 15 touchdowns with close to 1,200 yards. On many pre-season watch lists for top receiver in the conference.

Peyton Pelleur, #47, junior middle linebacker, 6' 0", 235 lbs.

The Cougars return last season’s returning tackler in Pelleur who last season had 101 total tackles which was good for fifth in the conference. Earning all conference honorable mention last season, he will look to break his way into the conversation for the conference’s best linebacker.

Shalom Luani, #23, senior safety, 6' 0", 205 lbs.

Another player who received all conference honorable mention last year, Luani led the way for the Cougars with his four interceptions.

What to watch:

Health. It seems like the Cougars always have health concerns but the potential of this season hinges on the health of their key players. Luke Falk has a history of concussions and often time is forced out of game action. Gabe Marks already left a practice with an undisclosed injury this year and has yet to have his status updated.