Our man Mark Allen did a breakdown a while back about our quarterbacks, outlining where he thinks we stand within the team. Pretty much it comes down to this at qb if we want to compete in the Pac-12 this year: Jeff Tuel (pictured right) and Connor Halliday cannot be allowed to be touched. All Cougs know the talent that we have, even if the rest of the world doesn’t because they pay no attention to us outside of when we have them on the schedule that week. Our gunslingers can wing it when healthy and have a nice cast to wing it too.
In the Leach offense running backs are not particularly featured, at least in the running game. But believe it or not they are quite vital to the survival of the offense. There is nothing more aggravating for a defense then to cover everybody (and in this case they will also have to double cover a certain somebody), and have a running back jittering down the sidelines and in space. There is also nothing more important than an outlet that can create something from nothing for your qb when things are breaking down and he has to get rid of it.
The Cougar stable consists of every type of running back, and they are all good at what they do, though not particularly great. There are no Jerome Harrison’s or Michael Blacks in the backfield this year, but between the shifty-quick Ricky Galvin, the turbo-bot Leon Brooks and the well rounded senior slugger Carl Winston (pictured above) the group is dynamic and intriguing. And lest we forget burner Marcus Mason, who is trying to add some dynamite to the return game as well as find some PT on the field. Galvin brings an extra element to the field as well, because he has been getting more and more trust from the coaching staff to catch the ball. He has even lined up quite a bit in the slot as of late to get his talents on the field while bringing in a second back. It will be interesting to see how Leach uses Galvin to spread the field and create essential running plays from the slot.
I think it’s been well documented how we feel about our wide receivers. I shared this thought about how good I think the receivers are this season, and at the time there was no Gabe Marks, who looks to be the real deal as a true freshman. Also there was very little mention of our new found pin-ball weapon at wide receiver, the 250 pound Andrei lintz.
Quick recap: We boast maybe the best receiver in the country in Marquess (pictured right). Of course only time will tell on that statement, and for my money the best top to bottom receiving corps in the Pac-12 Conference. The Trojans have maybe the best 1-2 tandem and will be hot on the heels of the Cougs all year in total receiving yards per game, but I don’t think 1-7 they stack up all the way across and the Washington State offense will give each of them a chance to show their metal throughout the year. I’m nuts right? We’ll see.
Ok, so here’s the make or break for the Cougs. Quarterbacks we know are outstanding, running backs are solid and the receiving corps is hopefully as good as I make it seem, tremendous. But the O-line has constantly and consistently failed this team, going back 7 or 8 years. This season however, the Cougars probably field the best O-line they have seen in that stretch, at least in theory.
2 NFL prospects will lace them up every week, with powerhouse junior LT John Fullington (pictured left) leading the charge, and redshirt senior Wade Jacobson contributing his talents on the left side as well. Both stand at around 6’5 and 300 lbs. Another big senior, Dan Spitz (6’7, 301 lbs), will also help try and keep Tuel upright and safe while Matt Goetz (6’4, 272 lbs) and Rico Forbes (6’6, 287 lbs) will begin the year (at least at this point), as the other starters. Jake Rodgers, another 6’6, 300 lb lineman has been pushing a couple guys for their spot in the starting lineup and he is only a sophomore.
Ok, so the talent and size seems to be there, but here’s the problem. The line has had one whale of a time keeping anybody off of their qbs throughout both Spring and Fall camps. This could probably be largely attributed to the new wide splits and offensive blocking scheme that the Cougars employ, but it makes no difference at this point. They just have to go out and perform and it’s something the group hasn’t done in forever. I’m not the only one, however, that would appreciate watching it happen.
So that wraps up the offense. The Cougar faithful will count on a million points from this group and to stay in and win ball-games. Hopefully, they are ready to deliver because they have all the talent to make that a reality. If I have faith in anything, it’s that Leach will have them up to the challenge.