Though the size had improved a good solid leap from over the past couple of seasons,Washington State still had a pretty below average looking secondary group in 2012. Outside of the “physically imposing” Deone Bucannon, who was 6’1″, 195 but played bigger, the Cougs really didn’t have much to work with in terms of matching up physically with their opponents. What a difference a year makes.
Bucannon now leads a physically able Pac-12 group of defensive backs into the 2013 season, after gaining 20 pounds (now 215) himself over the offseason. He’ll team up with 6’0″, 195 lbs cornerback Anthony Carpenter to try and amp-up the physicality of the defensive backfield in 2013. Of course Casey Locker (5’11″, 195) is always down to lay some lumber and Taylor Taliulu (5’11″, 196) was decently physical in the Spring, but both have so far been more of a liability in coverage (Locker due to athleticism restraints and Taliulu due to lack of experience) than you would like to see out of your strong safety position.
If JUCO transfer Paris Taylor is able to compete immediately (recovering from a torn ligament in his knee early last season), that would really give Washington State extra good size as he checks in at 6’3″, 206 lbs. Where he would play is completely up in the air at this point though as he could be groomed as an understudy for Bucannon or team up across from him. Even if he isn’t ready to go, there’s plenty of good size on the Fall roster at safety to help change the way Washington State approaches defense from the back level.
I cannot remember the last time I saw a Cougar cornerback consistently challenge the line of scrimmage during a football game, even on the goal line. While we’re still a year away from having multiple guys at corner that could even attempt to press on an any down level (see the exciting commitments of Joe Turner and Kevin Griffin), WSU has to find some way to get their corners involved closer to the line this year.
It’s not OK anymore to stand 8-10 yards off and still have to bail immediately to avoid the big play. This was the case time and time again last season and first downs were pitch-and-catch, a LOT! Heck, a lot of touchdowns were unchallenged pitch and catch. And the worst part of it all was that the Cb’s still got beat over the top, forcing Bucannon to have to chase down receivers time and time again. So Carpenter and either Damante Horton (5’10″, 178), newcomer Daquawn Brown (5’11″, 170) or any number of other cornerbacks who would win the position have to somehow be able to make plays up near the LOS, especially in the red zone.
Bottom line, if the Washington State defense is to solve their problem of selling the cheapest real estate in the Pac-12, it’s going to be up to the secondary to compete better.
By the way, those “other” defensive backs that will have their fair shot at the job presumably across from Carpenter (although his spot isn’t necessarily safe either) include RS Sr Nolan Washington, RS Jr Tracy Clark, Fr Charleston White, RS Fr Rahmel Dockery and RS Fr Alex Jackson. Height and weight on WSU Athletics updated roster page.