Everybody has their own version of projections for the Spring depth charts, this week ACU is bringing you ours for Washington State. Keeping in mind that Spring can be and normally is a very fluid situation, these are our thoughts on who will finish the Spring sessions on top of the two-deeps and why.
Nov 29, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Keith Price (17) is tackled by Washington State Cougars defensive end Xavier Cooper (96) during the second half at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
The defensive line has been doing exactly what coach Mike Leach preaches for his team to do, which is steadily improving. But they’re still nowhere where they need to be, or more importantly, nowhere near where this program has been in the past at the position. This could be the year they get back on that track, thanks to some intriguing additions creating more explosion combined with the size already up front. Here’s how it should look.
End – Destiny Vaeao, Lyman Faoliu
Nose Tackle – Toni Pole, Daniel Ekuale, Robert Barber
Tackle – Xavier Cooper, Darryl Paulo, Gerald Sterling
Buck – Kache Palacio, Ivan McLennan, Dylan Hanser
While the starters won’t necessarily look a whole lot different this Spring, the growing depth is something to take note of. I am really hoping that Faoliu, Ekuale and Barber have stepped up their games and will continue to do so. If not, there are guys that will be coming in the Fall to replace them, but the best thing would be if WSU could redshirt those guys due to the emergence of these players.
Vaeao should plug right in at defensive end, where the big man really should have been all along. Last season of course he was tried out at Buck and the idea was fabulous, but once the season got going opposing offenses exploited the speed matchups and the linebackers when he was on the field, rendering him largely useless. In this role at end he will be able to use the ‘freakish’ athleticism that the coaches have raved about on a down-in, down-out basis. Hopefully that helps the Cougs disrupt the passing game more often.
Of course even though we put Buck in our LB’s two-deeps, we still have to do it here because even though Mike Breske runs a 3-4 look, he likes to add a four-down look quite a bit throughout a ballgame. Palacio and McLennan are both well suited for the task. Palacio is in fact better off the edge while McLennan was better in space, so it may largely come down to situational football for who plays where. Still, both need to improve at their overall craft if the Cougs are to confuse offenses this Fall.