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Rutgers v. Washington State: Q&A with CougCenter

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We give you the inside scoop on Rutgers' first opponent from the experts.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

We've done all the speculating we can do here at OtB, now get a different perspective as we introduce Jeff Nusser of CougCenter, a fantastic blog that gives you all you need to know on Washington State and can even educate you on every facet of the Air Raid offense.

Q: What is the sentiment on Mike Leach? The Air Raid guru seems to have found the perfect place in Pullman, WA. Are fans universally happy with him as head coach?

CougCenter: Outside of a rocky first year and some mild criticism of his clock management skills which led in part to the epic collapse against Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl, fans are very pleased to have Mike Leach as our coach. He's raised the talent level and expectations significantly in two years, which is exactly what he was brought in to do. The program is definitely on the upswing, and people are excited.

Q: The offense gets most of the spotlight, but what about the defense? What can you tell me about scheme and style, as well as marquee players?

CougCenter: Well, the offense gets most of the spotlight because it returns nearly all of its skill players and should hit the ground running right out of the gate. The same can't be said of the defense, which is replacing four players in the secondary, including All-American Deone Bucannon, a first round pick of the Arizona Cardinals. The front seven return most of the important pieces, however, and Cougar fans are hoping that will be enough to cover up for the inexperience in the back end. A couple of guys to keep an eye on are defensive tackle Xavier Cooper, who is a disruptive force in the interior, and middle linebacker Darryl Monroe, who is a thumper. Lead blockers beware!

Q: What is something that might surprise Rutgers fans on gameday that won't surprise Wazzu fans?

CougCenter: Just how much the Cougs are going to pass the ball, and just how explosive the offense is, particularly the wide receivers. WSU brings talented guys at opponents in waves, and beyond that, these guys have a familiarity that should allow them to hit the ground running in this game. This is Connor Halliday's third year in the Air Raid, and he's likely ready to turn defenses into his personal playground. Expect him to throw it 60 times to eight or nine different receivers.

Q: Can you explain the story behind the Washington State Cougar flags that are at every College GameDay site?

CougCenter: Back in the early 2000s, when WSU was winning a lot of football games, some fans decided they would try to lure GameDay to Pullman by flying a flag on the set. It just took off from there. More on the story here.

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So there you have it. I'd like to thank Jeff and CougCenter for collaborating on this Q&A. For more info and OtB's answers to the opponent's Q&A, click here.