Last year Washington State went 4-8 (2-7). This sets the stage for a great underdog story. Over the last four years Wazzu has been the laughing stock of the Pac12 and at times, the nation. Last year WSU surprised a lot of people with their explosive offense and variety of weapons, the problem was they didn’t finish a few key games that would have sent the Cougs to a bowl. A year ago that was a heartbreaking fact, this year I see it as the best thing that happened to the Cougs since beating Texas in the Holiday bowl. Ever since the Cougars hired Mike Leach, people have started to ask, who is Washington State? This is a unique situation because not a lot of people pay attention to Wazzu (even with Leach) because of their record since 2003. People have no doubt that Leach will get this program back on track but only once his recruits have reached full potential and worked their way into his system. Funny thing is, we are loaded with talent right now and Leach will utilize all of it I promise that. Our past will allow us to slide under the radar but around mid season we’ll find ourselves in some big match ups that will have Pac12 North title implications.
What are “They” Saying?
Why is this a bit of an under rating?
This Coaching staff is exactly what the Cougs were missing to be successful last year. Spotty game preparation and the inability to hold a lead in the second half took the Cougars right out of a bowl last year. This staff is designed to prepare this team for just about any match up they face. If you look at Mike Leach’s past teams they were always the most prepared team when going into every match up. The other thing is the ability to close out games is mostly controlled by the coaching staff. Of course execution is huge on the players part but play calling and time management is far too key to be ignored. For example, if you are up by 2 scores in the second half against a team and about to receive a punt, call a return, not a block. A block puts players in a position to make a mental mistake and hit the punter and give the other team another chance which they can change the game with (Cough cough SDSU). I have faith Mike Leach and crew wont make these same mistakes.
Next our D. Oh Our D… It’s just a complicated issue when it comes to a defense who loses depth and allowed some of the most points per game in the nation, unless you add some real talent and combine it with a coach who balanced an explosive offense with a record setting defense, sound familiar? Yeah we did that. Looks like we are adding talent to our safty position and definitely to the linebacker core. Now I’m not saying our Defense is going to be top 3 or 4 in the Pac12 but fortunately for Washington State, their defense doesn’t need to be great, Just good enough and yes, I do think they will be “good enough”. Bold statement? I don’t think so.
Last do I even need to mention the offense? According to our preseason rankings, yeah I do have to get into it. Two words, Marquess Wilson (in the top 3 wide receivers in the nation). Next Jeff Tuel is healthy and looking better than ever. Tuel has added serious muscle and is showing his experience and knowledge with his fall camp numbers and accuracy. Other names you’ll hear a lot this year on offense: Bobby Ratliff (pure speed yet possession receiver. Gabe Marks (top impact freshman in the pac12, big play ability). Andre Lintz (Big TE with impressive ability, great for short yardage passing downs). Ricky Galvin (Moved to slot, shifty little guy with huge yard potential in the open field). Overall the offense who was explosive last year has added more depth and will hopefully have a consistent QB this year with Tuels weight added.
So where do I think the Cougs have a good chance of finishing this year?
8-4 (5-4) 2nd in the Pac12 North. (Holiday Bowl)
Bold? I don’t think too much so.