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Originally published Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 3:26 PM

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Five keys to Washington State’s season

The Cougars have to establish a better running game in coach Mike Leach’s second season in Pullman.

Seattle Times college football reporter

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Establish a quarterback

It goes without saying that the guy taking snaps is paramount in a Mike Leach offense. The Cougars need to settle on one player, presumably Connor Halliday, and hope that he grows within the system.

Block somebody

WSU allowed 57 sacks a year ago and the ground game netted a minuscule 29.1 yards per outing. Some of the sacks were traceable to quarterback indecision, but the Cougars must end what has become an annual exercise in futility on the offensive line and be at least a serviceable unit.

Cover, don’t cower

It doesn’t seem so long ago that WSU was putting cornerbacks into the NFL regularly – Marcus Trufant, Jason David, Karl Paymah. Lately, the Cougars have hit a run of mediocrity there, but if the front seven is as advertised, it could help Damante Horton, Nolan Washington, Anthony Carpenter and Daquawn Brown step up.

Get on board

The 2012 season marked a fairly fractious debut for the Leach regime – lowlighted by the departure of star receiver Marquess Wilson. It would help immensely if, in year two, all the oars are pulling in the same direction.

Make a break-through

It has been awhile since WSU pulled a surprise on a superior opponent early in the season, but that’s the kind of momentum-builder the program needs. If it doesn’t happen the first month against Auburn, USC or Stanford, it’ll have to wait until early October, when California and Oregon State await.

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