Chester Su’a was the next great piece of hair to wear a Cougar uniform in the middle of the Washington State Cougar defense, there was no doubt about it. After coming out of Pearl City, Hawaii with that hair on fire, he was supposed to become a full-time three year starter at outside linebacker and help lead the charge in the resurgence of the Posse on the Palouse, fondly re-nicknamed the “Hair-Raid” defense. The term was adopted by some writers at CougCenter and WSUFootballBlog when players Su’a, Mizell, Horton and Kaufusi committed to come aboard in 2010/2011.
As we know now, C.J. Mizell and Sekope Kaufusi quickly fell out of grace and were even more quickly banished by Mike Leach, while Demante Horton and Su’a have fallen seemingly by the wayside of their respective position races. Thus, the original “Hair Raid Four” have long since lost their namesake. The Cougars are putting the pieces back together to make it a sticking moniker, but one of those new pieces has replaced the focus of this piece.
Chester was the 15th rated OLB coming out of high school and looked every bit the part in earning a starting spot over the last 4 games of his freshman season. He was a young kid with little expectation thrust onto him, but everybody knew he had a whole lot of talent. Still, all the attention was on the other two guys who seemed to relish media attention more than he did. So he sat in the box and just ran to the ball, generally unnoticed and free to make plays off of the butt of Travis Long, who accumulated a lot of attention from offensive coordinators and linemen.
But in his sophomore year he seemed to falter under the pressure of a lot of change. Where Su’a used to fly around the field, he was now thinking about every step, trying to be too perfect. Where he used to have a free outside shoulder on the hip of Long and matched up against a TE or RB, he now was facing trap blocks and pulling guards as offenses tried to stay away from wherever Travis lined up. He was swallowed up pretty easily more often than not and just wasn’t making an impact.
His effort and understanding of the new 3-4 scheme was eventually out-shined by some even longer locks belonging to the JC transfer Justin Sagote, who brought a missing energy into the WSU defense. Sagote was a spark-plug, attacking the line of scrimmage with reckless abandon and getting sideline to sideline to make plays, even if he was wrong.
In short, Su’a’s confidence has been shot and now the coaches are imploring him to step up his game, but from the three-deep position. CougFan has recently reported in this piece that Tana Pritchard is healthy for the first time in forever and has supplanted the struggling junior to-be in the two-deeps. While Su’a has had an ailing back, it’s been pointed out to him that he is simply getting out-worked and needs to seek his inner Chester in order to earn back playing time.
He’s certainly good enough athletically to make a huge impact on this defense. Also, he has the hair for it. But it’s all about showing some heart now.