Analysis: Three thoughts from No. 18 WSU’s 45-7 win over Nevada

WSU is 4-0 for the first time since 2001. What did we take from this win over Nevada?

With a 45-7 win over Nevada on Saturday afternoon, 18th-ranked Washington State is off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2001, when the Cougars opened with seven-straight wins.

WSU almost notched its second shutout of the year, keeping Nevada (0-4) scoreless until late in the fourth quarter, when Maliek  Broady finally scored on a 3-yard touchdown run.

Here are three first impressions from the game:

1. The defense did just fine without Peyton Pelluer

Saturday marked the first time in three and a half seasons that the Cougars’ defense has taken the field without senior Peyton Pelluer at middle linebacker.

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Pelluer broke his foot last week against Oregon State, and spent the game in the press box, helping the defensive coaching staff.

Against Nevada, WSU didn’t miss him. The Cougars’ defense had a field day against the Wolf Pack, with two interceptions from Jalen Thompson and one from Robert Taylor.

Isaac Dotson started at middle linebacker, and redshirt freshman Jahad Woods earned his first career start at Dotson’s usual will linebacker position.

The Cougars’ defense didn’t miss a beat with their new linebacker rotation. They started the game with three-straight three-and-outs – getting two sacks on Nevada’s opening offensive drive, then a third on the Wolf Pack’s second drive.

Nevada didn’t even convert a third down until the final 1:50 of the first quarter, and the Wolf Pack’s offense was so bad that starting quarterback Kaymen Cureton was benched for Alabama transfer David Cornwell at the start of the second quarter.

Dotson was his usual effective self – tallying four tackles including half a tackle for loss. But more importantly Woods impressed in his first start. He was effective in the pass rush – for instance, in the second quarter series ended in Thompson’s first interception, Woods launched himself off the edge and notched a QB hurry to force Cornwell into an incomplete pass on first down.

Woods finished as WSU’s leading tackler, with four tackles including three solo stops.

However, this was against Nevada, which was 0-3 coming into Saturday, with a loss to FCS Idaho State. So, while this was probably a good way to ease Woods into game action, it doesn’t actually tell us very much about how the defense will fair without…

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