There is no rest for the weary, and there is no rest for the Cougars at the beginning of this football season. After a loss on the road against Auburn, WSU will travel to face a ranked opponent in a Pac-12 conference matchup against the University of Southern California Trojans on Saturday.
Despite losing the season opener, the Cougars remain confident entering the second week of their 2013 campaign.
“We feel like this is one we can’t leave on the field,” linebacker Darryl Monroe said. “This is definitely a team we feel like we can go and get a win.”
The Cougar defense will line up against a USC offense that beat Hawaii on the road 30-13 in the first game of the season. WSU last played USC in 2010 and lost 50-16.
“We don’t let distractions affect us. It’s a game,” Monroe said. “We come into this game looking to beat our opponent. It doesn’t matter if they’re seven feet tall or five foot two. They’re going against us, so our objective is to win the game.”
In this bout with USC, the Cougars will face an inexperienced quarterback again. Last week, it was in the form of a converted defensive back in a new offensive scheme. This week, WSU will likely face youthful quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, who both played last week against Hawaii. Kessler and Wittek are redshirt sophomores.
Whoever starts as quarterback for the Trojans on Saturday will throw to 2012 All-American wide receiver Marqise Lee, who had 104 receiving yards against Hawaii last week. The junior led the USC team last year with over 1,700 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns.
The Cougars will also face USC tailbacks Tre Madden and Justin Davis, who respectively had 109 and 74 yards rushing against Hawaii.
Connor Halliday, a redshirt junior, struggled last week against Auburn, throwing three interceptions.
“Last year, (Halliday) was really explosive but reckless,” Head Coach Mike Leach said. “He’s still really explosive and does a better job running the offensive unit. But we still need to iron out some things where he tries to make too much happen.”
This week could also prove challenging because of USC’s new defensive scheme devised by the team’s new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. Halliday will have to face a 5-2 scheme that nabbed four interceptions and totaled seven sacks against Hawaii.
The Cougars’ running game succeeded against Auburn. Halliday remained confident in his progress and said the Auburn game was good for him, other than the three interceptions.
Regardless of past games or future opponents, Halliday is focused only on USC.
“Around here, there’s been a lot of talk about postseason bowl games and what we’re going to do at the end of the year, and frankly, none of it has gotten done,” Halliday said. “It pisses me off that people talk about that and then fall short on it, so I’m just taking a one-Saturday approach.”
The game against the Trojans will start at 7:30 p.m. and will air on both Fox Sports 1 and the Washington State IMG College Sports Network.