2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 34 Washington State Cougars
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Washington State Cougars
No. 34: Washington State Cougars
Washington State Cougars Prespring Status
It was a good year for Washington State in a bad year for the Pac-12 North. The Cougars overcame the 0-2 start to roll to eight straight wins, only to run into a brick wall against Colorado and Washington late in the regular season, and then couldn’t handle the controversy-induced Minnesota team in a bowl loss. There was only one win over a bowl team, but compared to Oregon, Cal and Oregon State in the North, Wazzu’s eight win campaign was more than fine.
The return of QB Luke Falk and OG Cody O’Connell for another year was a lifesaver for an offense that now gets back seven starters after finishing 18th in the nation in total yards. The defense that turned into a positive gets back nine starters for what could be the Pac-12’s most underappreciated group.
Washington State Cougars Biggest Issue
The receiving corps loses just enough to be annoying. It’s a Mike Leach offense, and Falk is back, so the Cougars will crank out well over 350 passing yards per game no matter who’s running routes. However, Gabe Marks and River Cracraft were excellent parts of the puzzle over the last few seasons, with Marks leading the team in catches over the last two. Again, Wazzu spreads the ball around enough to overcome a few missing targets, but Marks and Cracraft really were excellent, combining for 142 grabs for 1,595 yards and 18 scores last season.
Washington State Cougars Biggest Positive
Of course it’s the return of Falk, who threw for almost 11,000 yards and 89 scores over the last three years, but the defense should turn out to be the difference between another good season and a potentially amazing one. Star S Shalom Luani is gone, but nine of the top ten tacklers are back including Hercules Mata’afa up front leading a great group that can get into the backfield. This should be the best D yet under Leach.
Really, Why Are The Washington State Cougars Ranked Here?
On experience and upside, this might be way too low a ranking, but the Cougars have to show they can start beating the better teams on a consistent basis under Leach. Can there be results for all of the fireworks? 2016 was the year to make noise in the North, but 2017 will be tougher – Oregon will be better, Stanford should be a lot stronger, and Washington won’t go away. Even so, the Cougars will be dangerous.