Hello Followers. Hope you’ve had a great week.
Today, we mark the beginning of a new column for me during the off-season, a column that I am calling “Filibuster Thursday.” The focus: Fill up these pages with drivel until such time that football season actually begins. So, expect a slew of random takes and other forms of non-information moving forward..
Of course, while the off-season demands a healthy dose of filler, today marks the official start of the Mike Leach era at WSU. So, if you want to check out my wonderings headed into Spring Football, then click on the old JumpaVegas….
Followers, before we get to football, a quick shout-out to the Men’s Hoopsters who unloaded a very nice 72-55 shellacking of the Beavs last night in Corvallis. What made the win particularly impressive was the fact that Cougs stormed the Beavs on the road without the services of Mr. Brock Motum. In his stead, Abe Lodwick turned last night’s game into his own personal Gettysburg Address and POUNDED the Beavs with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Reggie chipped in with a two-deuce effort to top our list of scorers. Put simply, a GREAT team effort by the kids. And if Reggie can maintain the same level of aggressiveness with Motum in the game, then this team has a very good chance at winning this thing.
Now, on to Football!
Followers, because I am known on the Least Coast as the Pinnacle of Innovation and Creativity, I am going to organize this article in a way that may throw you off a bit (drum roll please!)
First, I am going to start with peeking in at the defense. And then I am going to look at the Offense.
So, lets get to it….
Followers, I know that many of us are excited about the fortunes of this football team for this upcoming fall and beyond. That said, when I look at our defense as currently constituted, I quickly reach the following conclusion:
THIS IS BY FAR THE WORST DEFENSE IN THE PAC-12.
I mean, not only was this group dreadful last year, a good case can be made that we lost 4 out of our top 6 defensive players to graduation or disciplinary action (Hoffman-Ellis, Rankin, Sekope Kaufusi, Mizell). Not good.
What we have returning are guys who range from being second-tier all-conference contenders (Long, Buchannon) to a group that still looks to me to represent meddling Pac-12 players (Laurenzi, Toomer).
So, as we head into Spring Camp, here are my main questions:
1) Who is gonna play Uncle Buck?
A few months ago, Mike Breske did an interview where he talked about the different LB spots which are featured in his 3-4 base set. The big position in that scheme? The “Buck” linebacker. In Breske’s scheme, the Buck has responsibility for rushing the passer, dropping back in coverage, and containment along the edge. In other words, this position basically requires a dude to read everything and do everything. Not exactly the type of position you want to hand over to a freshman that has never played a down in the Pac-12.
So, if experience AND size/athleticism are key to the position, then who can take the reins on this one? Presumably, Travis Long stands as a prime candidate to fill this spot. But is he athletic enough to drop back into coverage? At 6-4, 256 lbs, he more or less fits the bill size wise. But we’re sure going to find out. And if he’s not the answer, then count me in as a guy who might just favor sticking with the 4-3 until our newcomers get a little more experienced (I am comfortable with starting the year with Sua, Monroe, and Coen at the LB spots with the kids filling in to provide depth).
2) Who’s Gonna Cover (Your Mother)?
We all know that part of the difficulty faced by our secondary last year could be traced to our lack of pass rush—as well as Hoffcrates inability to cover a wheel route to save his life. We also know that part of the difficulty faced by Mr. Nolan Washington could be traced to a shoulder injury that no one knew about.
At the same time, it also can be said that for the most part, our secondary play as was seriously sub-par last year, notwithstanding the work of Horton and Buchannon: Washington and Simmons were largely terrible and Toomer often represented a Tumor to the defense last year
So, as spring ball starts, I am beyond hopeful that we can find answers at that second and third corner spot as well as the second safety sport. Personally, I think Wash is going to rebound a bit. So, what I’m looking for is a guy who can emerge as a solid #3 corner. And Mr. Max Gama represents the guy who I am really hoping can step up and in at the corner spot this spring and beyond.
At the start of last year, I told you all that I thought our hopes for bowl eligibility rested on the ability of the offense to score over 30 points a game. Well, I’m doubling down on that sentiment again this year. Simply put, for us to make it to the post-season for the first time in over a decade—and to do so somewhere other than New Mexico—this group is going to have to score five or more touchdowns in 80% of our games (yes, our D is going to be that bad, I fear).
So, in order for us to accomplish that goal, we’re going to have to block the crap out of people.
1) Offensive Line
Notwithstanding some health issues related to Wade Jacobson, I think we all know that one side of our line is set. The question is what happens in the Center spot as well as the right side of the line?
Personally, I am hoping that Matt Goetz run-in with Leach proves to be old news and that he holds down the center spot. I am also hoping to see Dan Spitz take another step forward at Tackle. And finally, I am REALLY hoping that last year’s practice player extraordinaire, Rico Forbes, steps up in a big way.
I will be glued to every practice report to hear about the progress of these guys.
2) Wide Receiver
Everyone knows that Marquess Wilson is great. Everyone knows that Bobby Ratliff can play. Everyone knows that Henry Eaddy is fast. And everyone knows that Kristoff Williams looks GREAT just standing around the football field. But beyond that, there are a host of guys on the roster who we have only heard rumblings about.
Personally, I am 100% jacked to hear about whether Dominique Williams is as good as advertised. I want to see how guys like Dockery and even Simone fit in the slot. And, of course, there is this Bomber kid who could be a nightmare running “6”, aka Leach’s version of four verticals. To me, there is no more exciting position on the team than this group of Wide-Outs. It will be fun to follow their progress as springball moves forward!
So, there you have it, my primary questions headed into spring ball. It’s going to be a fun month, that much is for sure.
Sean will be back tomorrow to help recap the events of Day 1 of the Mike Leach era.
All for now. Go Cougs.