#84 Washington State Football 2013 Preview

Washington State Cougars

Overall Rank: #84
#11 Pac-12

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Washington State had a forgettable first season under Coach Mike Leach. They started the season 2-1, slipping past Eastern Washington and UNLV, before losing their next eight games in a row. The Cougars ended the 2012 campaign on a high note by beating rival Washington in overtime to finally place a conference win on their resume. This season almost has to be better. Coach Leach is getting his players into the program and the talent and depth has improved. But it will still be a while before Washington State will compete in the Pac-12.

2012 Record: (3-9, 1-8)
2012 Bowl: None
Coach: Mike Leach (3-9 at Washington State, 87-52 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Leach
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Breske

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Teondray Caldwell, RB, 269 yards
Passing: Connor Halliday, QB, 1,874 yards
Receiving: Gabe Marks, WR, 560 yards
Tackles: Deone Bucannon, S, 106
Sacks: Cyrus Coen, LB, 3; Xavier Cooper, DE, 3; Ioane Gauta, DT, 3
Interceptions: Deone Bucannon, S, 4

Other Key Returnees: WR Dominique Williams, WR Bobby Ratliff, WR Brett Bartolone, OT Gunnar Eklund, C Elliot Bosch, LB Darryl Monroe, LB Justin Sagote, CB Anthony Carpenter, CB Damante Horton, S Casey Locker, K Andrew Furney, P Michael Bowlin

Key Losses: QB Jeff Tuel, RB Carl Winston, WR Marquess Wilson, LB Travis Long

Any team coached by Mike Leach is going to have a potent passing attack. Just how much they can improve in year two is the big question. The Cougars did pass for over 330 yards per game last season, but they were not very efficient. The departed Jeff Tuel threw eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. Connor Halliday threw 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Halliday, a 6-4 junior, is back but his tendency to throw interceptions will give freshman Austin Apodaca the chance to play early and often. Apodaca had a great spring and WSU may decide that the future is now. With a very talented group of wide receivers, either quarterback will be expected to get the ball down the field. Marquess Wilson is gone after tallying 52 receptions for 813 yards, but Gabe Marks and Kristoff Williams are capable of turning into the go-to-receiver. With possession receiver Brett Bartolone and junior college transfer Vince Mayle also in the mix, the Cougars have everything they could want in their receivers.

The passing game will put up big numbers, but they need help. Anything that resembles a running game would be nice. Teondray Caldwell rushed for 269 yards on 56 carries last season and transfer Daniel Jenkins brings some more hope. However, Washington State rarely even tried to run in 2012 and, when they did, it usually did not work. The offensive line needs to improve too. No team in the nation allowed more sacks than the Cougars. That happens when a team passes so much, but the line must keep Halliday and Apodaca on their feet and attempt to help a little bit in the run game. Some starters are gone off of the line, but the unit has more depth this year so they should be better. Unfortunately, better may not be good enough. The defense has starting experience and now they have some depth too. Xavier Cooper is coming off of a fine freshman campaign and could emerge as the leader on the line. Linebacker Darryl Monroe is expected to step into the role filled by the now departed Travis Long last season. The secondary can build around free safety Deon Bucannon, who totaled 106 tackles and four interceptions as a junior. The secondary also boasts three other seniors who started last season in Casey Locker, Damante Horton and Anthony Carpenter. Experience is nice, but the unit got torched far too often in 2012 and do not be surprised if the Cougars mix things up in the secondary and take a long look at a few freshmen to unseat some seniors on defense.

The Bottom Line:
This season will be about finding depth and continuing to improve. The schedule in the Pac-12 is always tough and the Cougars are not quite at the point where they can seriously contend for a bowl berth. But these things take a little time and Coach Leach certainly has the overall team talent and depth moving in the right direction. The goal should be six wins and bowl eligibility, but winning two or three conference games and ending up with five wins overall is a good step towards a promising future.

Projected Bowl: None

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 29.08 (120th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 330.42 (9, 1)
Total Offense: 359.50 (94, 9)
Scoring Offense: 20.42 (106, 11)
Rushing Defense: 163.25 (64, 6)
Pass Defense: 262.67 (98, 10)
Total Defense: 425.92 (81, 9)
Scoring Defense: 33.67 (98, 10)
Turnover Margin: -0.75 (101, 11)
Sacks: 2.92 (11, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 4.75 (120, 12)


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