#39 Washington State Football 2020 Preview

Washington State Cougars
Overall Rank: #39
#6 Pac-12
 Washington State Logo
After four seasons leading Hawaii, Coach Nick Rolovich takes over the Washington State program. At Hawaii Coach Rolovich employed an exciting spread offense that will keep the Cougars as a pass first offense. Losing Mike Leach to Ole Miss will sting a little bit, but WSU made a good hire and should continue to be competitive in the Pac-12.
2019 Record: 6-7, 3-6
2019 Bowl: Cheez-It Bowl vs. Air Force (L 21-31)
Coach: Nick Rolovich (0-0 at Washington State, 28-27 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Smith, Craig Stutzmann
Defensive Coordinator: Jake Dickert
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Max Borghi, RB, 817 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Max Borghi, RB, 597 yards
Tackles: Jahad Woods, LB, 141
Sacks: Will Rodgers III, DL, 4.0
Interceptions: Skyler Thomas, S, 4
Other Key Returnees: WR Renard Bell, WR Travell Harris, OL Abe Lucas, LB Justus Rogers, CB George Hicks III, LB Ron Stone, K Blake Mazza
Key Losses: QB Anthony Gordon, WR Brandon Arconado, WR Easop Winston, WR Dezmon Patmon, WR Tay Martin, CB Marcus Strong, S Bryce Beekman
Yet again the Cougars need to find a new quarterback. Anthony Gordon threw for 5,579 yards and 48 touchdowns last season and now a bevy of inexperienced players will look to put up big numbers in this offense. Cammon Cooper is the most experienced option, but he still has not thrown a collegiate pass. Redshirt freshman Gunnar Cruz and incoming freshman Jayden De Laura figure to be in the mix as well. The new quarterback will have to work with quite a few new wide receivers as well. Renard Bell is the top returner with 54 receptions for 579 yards and Travell Harris is coming off a solid sophomore campaign. Running back Max Borghi is the most proven weapon this offense has. He rushed for 817 yards and added 597 receiving yards last season. He is often underutilized in the pass first offense, so it will be interesting to see how Coach Rolovich utilizes his running back.
Washington State’s defense has been awful against the run lately. The hope now is that the new staff, led by defensive coordinator Jake Dickert, will tackle that problem. Dickert comes from a Wyoming program that was strong against the run and he will look to form a strong front seven to build his defense around. Some key linemen are gone, but Will Rodgers III tallied 4.0 sacks and Lamonte McDougal and Dallas Hobbs have plenty of experience. The linebacker position is this team’s most experienced unit. Jahad Woods easily led the team with 141 tackles and Justus Rogers and Ron Stone are more than ready to pick up their game. The secondary has a couple holes to fill. Marcus Strong was a great cornerback and safety Bryce Beekman tragically passed away in March. Skyler Thomas is a very good playmaker who tallied four interceptions and two fumble recoveries last season.
The Bottom Line:
This will be an interesting transition season for Washington State. They have a talented roster, but there are some big questions on offense and this is a team that is going to have to outscore their opponents. The new quarterback will put up huge numbers, but avoiding turnovers and making smart decisions will be key. The Cougars cannot beat quality opponents if they are turning the ball over at inopportune moments in the game.
Projected Bowl: Redbox Bowl
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 68.1 (129th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 437.2 (1, 1)
Total Offense: 505.2 (7, 1)
Scoring Offense: 37.8 (11, 1)
Rushing Defense: 185.5 (91, 12)
Pass Defense: 267.0 (114, 6)
Total Defense: 452.5 (111, 10)
Scoring Defense: 31.4 (93, 8)
Turnover Margin: -0.46 (100, 10)
Sacks: 1.77 (92, 11)
Sacks Allowed: 1.54 (29, 1)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#63 Abraham Lucas