The Washington State Cougars’ offensive line last year was simply dreadful. A virtual and literal revolving door to its’ quarterbacks Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday left the Cougars last in the FBS in sacks allowed with 57. Therefore the key to seemingly turning around the Cougs’ fortunes in the win column lies directly on the front lines, or at least it begins there.
This Spring an emergence of two new faces who have taken the starting role by storm has changed the outlook of the entire group up front. Redshirt sophomore Joe Dahl has stepped in at left guard and out-battled fourth year senior John Fullington, earning most of the 1st team snaps in practice to this point and bringing a toughness and consistency with him to work every day. When Mike Leach says “His bad plays aren’t bad plays, they aren’t disasterous, he always gets a piece of someone” you know something’s going really right. Dahl is 6’4″, 286 lbs and could add another 5-10 before the Fall.
The bookend to the right side is now Rico Forbes, a redshirt senior who has had extremely bad luck in his D-1 college career. After being highly touted, yet redshirted unexpectedly after his transfer in 2011, he was the likely starter going into last season. But then Forbes suffered a season ending ACL injury in the Fall, which led to moving pieces between all of six players throughout the entire year on that Cougar O-line.
Now that he’s fully healthy, there’s little doubt that Rico’s ready to be that guy to hold down the edge as a 5th year senior. There hasn’t really been any question that his foot-speed and lower body power at the point of attack are a huge upgrade for the position. He brings Pac-12 caliber size to the field at his position as well, at an impressive 6’6″, 304 lbs.
There were a whole bunch of “disasterous plays” in 2012 and the guys that give the Cougars the best chance to avoid those will play. Anyone who watched the Cougars play last season saw a lot of “free rushers” coming off of the right side, leading to immediate sacks or the quarterbacks stepping up into the waiting arms of another rusher on the left side. Dahl and Forbes seem to be two guys that will get the opportunity to change the game up front for Washington State come Fall.
For more on Joe Dahl’s rise to potential starter over the incumbent Fullington, CF.c has a great article that went up yesterday; WSU’s Joe Dahl is livin’ the dream.
If you have a subscription to CF.c here’s an earlier article highlighting Rico Forbes.