The Washington State Cougars continue their Fall camp in Lewiston today after a one-day hiatus from Lewiston, moving to the bubble in Pullman due to the smoke from the wildfires in the area.
After 10 days of non-stop football action it’s pretty clear the team has taken another step forward in their development and the program is going to once again be ready to surprise the pundits and compete better in the Pac-12 Conference. In a surprising development, the defense is actually making a push most of the time as the better unit, which is better news than it sounds.
The Cougar “D” has been and will continue to be much maligned for it’s youth by analysts, especially in the secondary. What most do not fully understand yet is that while the Cougs are young in the back end, they boast wave-after-wave of talented and explosive athletes in the front-seven that will make it much easier to cover people.
In fact the Cougs are no less than eight-deep up front (according to no-nonsense defensive coordinator Mike Breske), and have one of the most underrated linebacking cores in the conference. Between the experience of the suddenly Hulk-like Darryl Monroe at MIK and the versatile Cyrus Coen at SAM, the Cougs are already in great shape.
The group is also waiting for former 4-star LB Chester Su’a or local (and over-achieving) product Tana Pritchard to take control of the WIL spot. Kache Palacio and Ivan McLennan are both explosive off the edge from their BUCK position, giving the group terrific balance and speed.
It’s been pretty evident in camp that the offense will be difficult to stop if they can keep all their weapons healthy. It’s also been evident that the defense is better by far than at any time since 2003, even with the youth in the back. They haven’t backed down and boast some serious athleticism, standing toe-to-toe in most of the drills on a daily basis, which is impressive considering the Cougs have one of the most deep and talented WR cores in the conference.
The Mike Leach offense also helps (forces?) his defensive backs to grow up in a hurry, which will serve the team well as the team moves ever-closer to kicking it off against Rutgers on August 28th. Not that the offense hasn’t been able to get the ball moving and score several times in their drills as well, but there is still some work to do as far as putting the offensive line together and they haven’t necessarily fought through the grind as well as the defensive unit these past couple days.
Nothing to be concerned about, Mike Leach and the rest of the coaching staff been very optimistic about how the team’s conditioning is light-years ahead of previous seasons. Leach has also constantly praised his redshirt senior quarterback Connor Halliday and is mostly impressed with his offense’s competitive nature and play-making ability across the board.
He does however hold reservation towards how good the Cougs are compared to their potential, which is both good and bad. The fact that they can be so much better is always a concern, but to consider they’re ahead of last season (which produced the first bowl game in a decade) by a significant amount is also a comforting thought.
We’ll just have to see how it all shakes out as the Cougs wrap up Lewiston over the next two days and get back into Pullman.