The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Washington State Cougars.
No. 51: Washington State Cougars
Spring Practice Starts: March 22
Spring Game: April 28
Washington State Cougars Spring Status
With 26 wins over the last three seasons and a shot at playing for the Pac-12 Championship going into the final week of the regular season, things are starting to work just fine under Mike Leach.
However, the Cougars closed out with a thud, getting roasted by Washington and, in the Holiday Bowl, Michigan State by a combined score of 83 to 31. There haven’t been enough wins over great teams, but Leach turned the program around.
This year’s team has plenty of positive parts, but it’s going to take some work to rev up the machine again with a shaky quarterback situation, the loss of Cody O’Connell and three starters on the line, and with the O needing to replace seven starters overall.
The D has just as many issues, having to replace seven starters including Hercules Mata’afa and three key parts of the line. But with former Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys at the helm of the defense, there’s hope.
Leach is still around – and not at Tennessee – but with a slew of new assistants, the tragedy of projected starting quarterback Tyler Hilinski’s suicide, and so many new starters, it’ll be an interesting spring.
Washington State Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Quarterback. There might be a whole lot of position fights, but finding the right triggerman to run the high-powered attack will be Job One. The graduation of Luke Falk and the passing of Hilinski left the job wide open, but the Cougars caught a massive break when East Carolina grad transfer Gardner Minshew chose Wazzu over Alabama. But he’s not going to be around until after spring ball.
Star recruit Cammon Cooper has the talent, but he’s a true freshman. There’s no one else with any experience, but everyone will get a shot to audition before Minshew shows up.
Washington State Biggest Issue
The downfield passing game. There were a whole lot of passes, and a whole lot of yards, but there weren’t enough yards after the catch and little to nothing happening down the field.
The Air Raid offense worked just fine – throwing for almost 4,800 yards – but after having few problems averaging over ten yards per completion under Leach, the offense averaged a paltry 9.79. There was a whole lot of dinking and dunking, and with the new quarterback situation and all the moving parts, expect more of the same.
Washington State Biggest Positive
The receiving corps is in place. Leading receivers Tavares Martin bolted early for the NFL, but the Wazzu attack is fine at spreading the ball around to all the targets. Six of the top seven wideouts are back – with only Martin gone – after undergoing an overhaul going into last season. The receivers will make the quarterback situation work out fine.
Really, Why Are The Washington State Cougars Ranked Here?
This is the step-back, rebuilding type of year. At least it will be unless this offseason is amazing.
It’s not like there isn’t talent on both sides of the ball, and Wazzu always attracts the types of players who fit the type. As long as the passing game is winging it all around the yard, everything will be fine. However, can all the positive strides made defensively over the last few years keep rolling?
This will be a team to keep a close eye on over the next several weeks.