So it’s no secret our beloved program has been in a slump as of late. You can blame whatever you’d like but it’s there. Now before I start I would like to state that this is an optimistic article filled with best case scenarios and a little bit of bias from me, there will be a pessimistic version later.
With Washington State coming dangerously close to a winless Pac12 season the last several seasons I know most Coug fans can think back to a point where they said “This is the bottom”. For some it stuck, but it was last season with the loss to Colorado where most Coug fans rephrased to “No, NOW this is the bottom”. Perhaps it was the barrage of social media post from the players like Jeff Tuel stating “Still working, stay with us” making us realize these are our boys and no matter how bad it gets we love and support them. Or maybe it was the fact that as Coug fans we’ve set no limit for the pain we are willing to take and still remain die hard fans but we all stuck out the season and we’re still here.
Immediately after the loss to Colorado, a lot of fans had an emotional outburst. We were tested, as we have been many times over the last 6-8 years but this was by far the worst. We had better moments last season and devastating lows but going into the off-season, we all got a glimmer of hope, the Apple Cup. The Highlights bring tears to my eyes almost every time. So here are some things that will continue to go right for us rolling into next season.
I think our receiving core was a plus but also a disappointment last year, look for these guys to make huge moves in their development and ability to get open, route running will be much improved now that they have a better grasp on how the system works and where they all fit into it. I believe Gabe Marks will be a big name in the Pac-12 by the end of the season.
Our running game was non-existent last year but during games where we saw it play a role, UCLA and UW, our offense looked 100% better and more effective. Even though we aren’t going to run the ball that much again this year, look for the running game to be more efficient and effective this year. Also keep an eye out for some new big names in this category.
The defense was so much better than what I expected last year. Our line was able to get pressure (most games) and our linebackers actually did a decent job at stopping runs and getting extra pressure on the quarterback. Look for these two positions to be even more developed this year. My unsure position for the defense is the secondary… Our DB’s were disappointing last year, Horton disappeared and our freshman who was supposed to be a stand out (Taylor Taliulu) was no where to be found after a couple games. We did get some good play from some of our more experienced DB’s like Deone Bucannon but he even had his struggles. I still am unsure of the state that our secondary will be in by kickoff on August 31st but it needs to be much improved for the Cougs to have a successful season.
The big question mark for next season is definitely the quarterback position… Who is gonna do it? Will we have a new name there? If so will that be a good thing like UCLA’s standout freshman Brett Hundley? Or would this mean we have to start all over again?
Well I’ll tell you what I want. I want (like 99% of Coug nation) Connor Halliday to step up and be the man! He made some awful decisions last year, straight terrible decisions sure! If we think back not too long ago though, we saw Marshall Lobestael make some equally terrible decisions his first 3 years with the Cougs. But his Senior year, he stepped up and it was rare we saw him make a bad decision…
My point? Reads and decision making can be taught at any point and I really strongly hope this happens for Connor this season… the difference one off-season can make for a young quarterback can be pivotal and he definitely has the coaching staff to help him in this development. We can’t afford another season of musical chairs with the QB’s. Come on Connor! Take your spot and claim it!
So what will our season be next year if all this happens? I believe we go 7-5 or 6-6, we will do just enough to get in a bowl and I cannot stress how huge that will be for our program. I believe in order to get to that bowl game though we have to win one of our first two games. Both are huge games and if we can get one, we will be right on track for the season we need to revive this program. Let’s get out and support em this season Cougar Faithful! Go Cougs!