Sept. 29, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars defensive tackle Steven Hoffart (94) celebrates a stop of the Oregon Ducks offense with teammates defensive end Destiny Vaeao (87) and safety Tyree Toomer (15) during the first half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
It’s almost unanimous that the expectations for Washington State football heading into year one of the Mike Leach era were far overblown.
Going into year two, WSU athletic director Bill Moos has toned down expectations for this upcoming season, predicting “not quite ready” to compete the way they expect in 2013, at least in wins. If the Cougs indeed aren’t quite there in the win column, what are the measures of success that we should be looking for as the season progresses?
Dominating Performances vs the Underdogs
Last season the Cougs had a clear superiority in talent base on both UNLV and Eastern Washington, as you would expect a Pac-12 team to have. At times it was obvious, but at others it was about as clear as mud. Washington State pulled out each game on the final defensive possession, somehow avoiding what seemed to be an inevitable miracle comeback by each team. Against Colorado, however, the comeback was completed and the Cougs went down in a game that had no business being closer than 2 touchdowns. In all instances, WSU showed supreme youth and made a slew of mistakes in back-to-back-to-back format.
In 2013, the Cougars will once again have an opportunity to show improvement by blowing out the likes of Idaho and Southern Utah in Martin Stadium. Each team is severely undermanned going into this season and Washington State really needs to put the pedal to the medal in these games. The only numbers that matter at the end of these two games will be on the scoreboard. If the Cougs have a three-score advantage at the end, success will have been attained in this area.
Competitive Opening Statements
Both Auburn and USC had less than acceptable seasons in 2012 and each will likely put WSU up in the same fashion as I’ve put Idaho and SUU up above. It will be the Cougars’ job to change their own perception with competitive performances against both of these traditional powerhouses while they’re down. It would be optimal to take at least one of these contests, but at the very least the Cougs need to give themselves a chance to win in the 4th.
Mike Leach suffered a season of disappointment from his offense, that cannot be the case in 2013, at least if the Cougars are to take the next step. The biggest disappointment came in the form of point production, where WSU put up a touchdown or less in four games (only six points in three of those). Two more times WSU scored only 17 points. The Cougars still managed to average 20.4 points per game, but that needs to go up by almost a touchdown in 2013. Somewhere in the 26 to 28 points per range would be acceptable.
Another point here is that opponents converted four more times (43) than the Cougars had attempts (39) in the redzone. Add to that the inability to convert 10 of those to any kind of points and that’s simply unacceptable for a Mike Leach coached offense.