#23 Washington State Football 2019 Preview

Washington State Cougars
Overall Rank: #23
#5 Pac-12
 Washington State Logo
Coach Mike Leach has turned Washington State into a consistent contender in the Pac-12. The Cougars finished tied for first in the North last season and finished the campaign with a win over Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl. But with some questions at quarterback, the Cougars may struggle to compete in their tough division in 2019.
2018 Record: 11-2, 7-2
2018 Bowl: Alamo Bowl vs. Iowa State (W 28-26)
Coach: Mike Leach (49-40 at Washington State, 133-83 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Leach
Defensive Coordinator: Tracy Claeys
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Max Borghi, RB, 366 yards
Passing: Trey Tinsley, QB, 63 yards
Receiving: Dezmon Patmon, WR, 816 yards
Tackles: Jahad Woods, LB, 82
Sacks: Dominick Silvels, LB, 4.5
Interceptions: Marcus Strong, CB, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Tay Martin, WR Easpo Winston, OL Abe Lucas, S Skyler Thomas, S Jalen Thompson, LB Willie Taylor, DT Will Rodgers, LB Dillon Sherman
Key Losses: RB James Williams, QB Gardner Minshew, OL Ande Dillard, DE Logan Tago, LB Peyton Pelluer, LB Hunter Dale, CB Darrien Molton
Gardner Minshew is gone after throwing for 4,779 yards and 38 touchdowns. The graduate transfer’s route worked so well with Minshew that the Cougars are again going down that road. This time they brought in Gage Gubrud from Eastern Washington. Gubrud has had a brilliant collegiate career and knows how to run an air raid type of offense. But Gubrud needs to stay healthy and he will get competition from Anthony Gordon and Trey Tinsley, who have more experience with Coach Leach’s system. Tay Martin is back after catching 69 passes for 685 yards and eight touchdowns. He will lead a deep and talented group of receivers. Running back James Williams split early for the NFL, but WSU has Max Borghi ready to pick up the slack. He rushed for 366 yards and eight touchdowns on just 72 carries last season.
The Cougars keep getting better on defense and they hope that will continue into 2019. Linebacker Peyton Pelluer is gone and he was a superb leader in the middle of the defense. Justus Rogers is expected to take over that role, but he will get some help from Jahad Woods, Willie Taylor and Dillon Sherman. This team led the Pac-12 in sacks and it was a group effort. Nnamdi Oguayo should add another pass rushing threat to the mix after the lineman missed the 2018 campaign with an injury. Skyler Thomas is moving to the nickel position in an effort to get the best five players on the field in the secondary. With Jalen Thompson at safety and Marcus Strong and cornerback, the Cougars have proven playmakers.
The Bottom Line:
It will difficult for Washington State to repeat their success at quarterback. It was a bit of a surprise that Minshew played as well as he did last season. Gubrud has some big shoes to fill. The Cougars will have a little time before their toughest Pac-12 games. They head to Oregon on October 26th, host Stanford on November 16th and finish the regular season with a date at Washington.
Projected Bowl: Sun Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 77.7 (128th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 373.8 (1, 1)
Total Offense: 451.5 (27, 2)
Scoring Offense: 37.5 (15, 1)
Rushing Defense: 141.5 (38, 3)
Pass Defense: 218.1 (56, 4)
Total Defense: 359.5 (42, 4)
Scoring Defense: 23.3 (42, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.62 (20, 2)
Sacks: 2.92 (16, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (8, 1)