Hello Followers. Hope you’ve had a great week.
Today, as work threatens my role as “Supreme Leader” of Procrastination Nation, I offer a first look at the “X” factors for this upcoming season.
So, if you want to check out who I think represents the hidden key to a successful season on offense, then click on the Jumpenstein…
Followers, before we get to the meat of today’s post, I thought I’d feed you with a few quick morning links.
First, we have the story on the Cougs first road win in Pac-12 play against Oregon State last night in Corvallis. Don’t know about you all, but the Pac-12 right now appears to lead the country in coaches who “lead you to the water, but won’t let you drink.”
Clearly, our own Ken Bone is a key member of that committee of coaches, but he is not alone. Dawkins’ Stanford team has taken a once promising season into yet another February swoon (Dawkins’ February winning percentage is .300 and the Cards have lost 6 of 7 since dating back to their loss to WSU).
And, Craig Robinson is looking more like he won’t make it to April as the leader of Beaver nation.
While Robinson’s teams have shown moments of great offense to go along with a meddling—if not stifling—defense, he also holds the dishonor of leading the Beavs to crushing 50 point losses to Seattle University, University of Texas Corpus Christi, and this year, getting swept by us. Not good.
So, as we all lament the fortunes of this year’s WSU Hoops team, at least we know that our own underachieving coach is out achieving the other underachievers in the Pac-12 conference.
(Also, if check out the story on the victory of the New Sonics over the Old Sonics,)
Now, back to Football.
Followers, according to our Site meter, there were about 14 of you a few weeks back who read my declaration that Jeff Tuel should be considered as a leading Heisman Trophy candidate out of the Pac-12 next year. And because I think that Tuel will both be a starter and a star in 2012, he is excluded from consideration as an X factor for 2012.
And because Marquess Wilson figures to achieve national stardom as well next year, he too doesn’t quite fit the mold of “X” status.
Moreover, while the Offensive Line includes several players that could represent “unsung” heroes for next year, I also decided to exclude them from consideration simply because I consider the line to be the “engine” of the Offense, and an engine doesn’t really seem to be an “X factor.”
So, to make a short story really long, in trying to find my X factor for this next year, I immediately went our Wide Receivers. And man, what a great group to choose from!
I first considered Bobby Ratliff as the second option that could really step forward this year—much in the way that Isaiah Barton channeled moments of potential in 2010 into a really fantastic 2011 campaign. In fact, had Barton stayed healthy, there’s part of me that thinks we might have scraped out those last two games and gained bowl eligibility. I think Bobby R will have a huge year in 2012!
I also considered Kristoff Williams, who as we all know, was considered to be the equal—if not superior—to Marquess Wilson during fall camp of 2010.
While K. Williams did not have the break out year that some of us expected last year, he showed himself to have some skills to match that pro-style body of his. He could be really big for us this year.
Similarly, we all heard from Ball and Sturdy last year that Dominique Williams has a special quality and talent to him. Ramhel Dockery has break-out speed and moves that could make him a factor both on O and on Special Teams. And, we have a few recruits that figure to be key playmakers at some point in the season.
But alas, while yours truly anointed Klay Thompson as an X factor for the 2009 hoops team, I generally do not elevate freshman to such high status.
Which brings me to our running backs.
Followers, those of you who endured these pages during last year’s football campaign know that this Sutra absolutely adores Carl Winston.
From the first half of the Colorado game in particular, I thought that Winston brought a physicality and attitude to our running game that I thought was contagious. It really seemed that even if Carl only gained 2 or 3 yards on a carry, his attitude seemed to elevate the play of the offensive line for a play or four afterward.
And nowhere was his physical play more manifest than in our game against Oregon in Eugene where Carl just seemed to punish Oregon’s linebackers and secondary every time we got the ball. In fact, it was because of Carl’s physicality and emotion, that for a short while, I actually thought we were going to win that game (when the score was 28-0).
That said, while Carl’s play had me at the edge of my seat during the Oregon game, it was the play of another Running Back that caught my attention at the end of that game. Don’t know if you all remember, but Ricky Galvin had a 9 yard Touchdown run at the end of that game that was just bruising. And as I watched Ricky cross the goal line, I thought to myself, “This kid just added a dimension of physicality to go with his scat back status.”
And for the rest of the year, Galvin seemed to improve his skills with the rock, including his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. What’s more, Galvin improved significantly with his pass blocking, which figures to improve his standing with the new coaching staff.
Ultimately, Ricky gained a little over 600 yards rushing last year to go along with 28 catches which totaled about 250 yards. Not bad when you consider all of the factors that were working against the offense and its running attack this past season.
Now, fast forward to this year.
Although Ricky figures to be challenged by Winston, Theron, Mason, et al., Galvin feels ideally suited for Mike Leach’s style.
After all, Galvin is simply ELECTRIC in space, and he figures to have plenty of space to work with both as a Running Back—with the wide spreads of the O-Line–as well as a receiver out of the backfield (Keep in mind that Mastro has had 1,000 yard rushers for his past 5 years as coach).
What’s more, Ricky’s toughness as a blocker and as a runner should enable him to gain the amount of playing time he needs to gain the type of rhythm needed to put up some nice numbers during the year. And, the hiring of Pistol guru Jim Mastro seems to reinforce the idea that the RB position figures to become a prominent factor in the WSU version of the Air Raid offense.
In sum, while Jeff Tuel figures to serve as WSU’s version of RGIII
this year, at the running back position, we figure to do one or two greater.
So, if you all are looking for the 2012 X-Factor for your Washington State Cougars, I give you the following man:
All for now. Go Cougs!
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