As part of our new 2014 Round Table series, we’re kicking Spring football season into gear early. For part 1 simply wonder, what are some of the biggest question marks that the Washington State football coaching staff must find answers to this Spring? This particular edition is less about players and more about scheme. In other words, not who, but what and why? In part 2, ACU will give you our thoughts to what the answers might be.
How does WSU create more pressure up front without sending more bodies?
This is the first question that comes to mind and it may well be the most intriguing. In 2014 the Cougars barely created 1 and a half sacks per game at 1.62 (21 overall, good for a tie in 83rd place). That number is magnified when you look at the opponents’ 3rd down conversions in the seven losses. It stands at a staggering 45% rate and nearly half of an offenses attempts going for first down is not a recipe for success.
Will the Cougs be able to withstand the loss of 5 seniors in the secondary?
Not that the Cougs were a tremendous bunch in the secondary, but they were a shade better than they were in 2012. The main difference was that they actually created some big turnovers as a unit in 2013. Still, as any WSU football fan could observe, there were still far too many blown coverages, missed assignments and at many times not enough talent to get it done in coverage as a group. But maybe the biggest issue of all, was that the group was loaded with vets so very little experience returns. Will the group digress as a result in 2014?
3 of 5 starting O-linemen are gone, what’s the key to success if the O-line is to gel this Spring?
The offensive line was more decent in 2013, much improved from a trial-by-fire 2012 that saw them lead the nation in sacks allowed. Improving that number by 25 seems like a huge jump, maybe it is. However it still leaves the Cougs at 95th in the nation, which is not at all a good number. What’s the key this Spring for Wazzu to make another dramatic jump in 2014, or are the Cougs doomed to repeat that number with a majority of spots needing to be accounted for?
Is an expanded running game important for success as we move forward, or not?
The Cougars were once again at the very bottom of almost every major rushing category nationally (though they did tie for 114 with 10 rushing touchdowns). With that in mind and looking at the jump WSU still made in 2013, is finding an expansion in the running game this Spring important to the future success of this offense, or not?
Will the Cougs change anything in year 3 on offense or defense?
As of now, coaching staff is the same and a lot of returners make their way back as juniors and seniors on the Palouse. On the one hand, that lends itself to just getting better than you were at what you do. But on the other hand, these guys might to be able to handle some additional wrinkles. Do the Cougars change anything in year 3 to become less predictable?