With just 5 days remaining before the Washington State Cougars start the season against Rutgers I will take a look at each position and what we will – or should – see for each group. In this first of an 8-part series I take a look at the running back position.
Let’s take a horrible trip down memory lane…. Gildan New Mexico Bowl, I know it’s not something we want to talk about but it is the best example. There is 3 minutes left in the game, Cougars up by 15 over Colorado State. The Rams score a touchdown with 2:52 remaining in the game cutting the lead to 8 points.
With just under 3 minutes left, up 8, one would think they would be able to just run the clock down. Get a first down or 2 and keep possession and the game is more than likely over. We all know what happens in the rest of the game so I won’t go into detail with that. The Cougars finished the game with negative-10 yards on the game. NEGATIVE-10. yards.
We all know that Mike Leach and the Cougars run an air raid offense, but it is time that the running game becomes a factor. It has always been said that you need to run the ball in order to pass the ball. Will this be the season that we see a running game that is a factor for the Cougs?
Of the top 7 rushers for the Cougars 2 of them were quarterbacks in Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca. Halliday however had negative-177 yards. The team as a whole had 694 yards on the season with the leading rusher being Marcus Mason who had 429 of those yards.
Second leading rusher, Teondray Caldwell (271), has been playing a lot of defense for the Cougars and we could see him on that side of the ball more than in the Cougars backfield.
Third leading rusher, Jeremiah Laufasa (157 – 7 TD’s), transferred to UTEP earlier this off-season leaving Theron West with just 18 rushing yards as the only other running back on the roster with an attempt.
Mason, who was last year’s leading rusher, is not even listed on the depth chart for Rutgers at running back but instead it is led by two redshirt freshman Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks. Wicks had a really good camp and was able to prove himself and prove that he deserves to be that number 2 running back this off-season.
It would be no surprise to see Mason and West get in and see the field every once in a while with Mason having the most experience of the group.
Halliday has said that the running game has taken huge strides this off-season and it would be really nice to see Washington State come out with a running game that can compliment the already great passing game. The Cougars started last season with 120 rushing yards against Auburn, the game that followed that the Cougars had 7 yards in a win against USC.
The team has been very on and off with a rushing game and looks to be more steady and ‘on’ with the rushing attack this season. They have the talent to do so, now it just takes the execution.
The Cougars and the running game will open against Rutgers on Thursday the 28th at Century Link Field.