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Originally published August 28, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 28, 2008 at 8:43 AM

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Five keys to Cougars' season

1. Gary Rogers blossoms

Can the Cougars' new quarterback succeed in his fifth year while adapting to a new system? Rogers has the size and tools, but he played sparingly while Alex Brink had the job.

2. Good play from D-line

Is the defensive line stout enough? If it isn't, the Cougars might not have enough weapons in the back seven to slow down offenses.

3. Special-teams improvement

Will the special teams improve on recent seasons? Those units were among the shortfalls of the Bill Doba regime.

4. Avoid injuries

Do the Cougars have sufficient depth? WSU is thin at many spots — quarterback, running back, both lines — and can't afford serious attrition.

5. Survive tough schedule

In coach Paul Wulff's first year, is this team resilient enough to take potential early hits and keep on coming? Their first five Pac-10 opponents played in bowl games in '07.

Bud Withers

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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