Washington State College Football Preview

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Washington State

College Football

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Mike Leach took Washington State to a bowl Game in his second year as head coach, but the Cougars dropped to just three wins last season. Most of that due to a defense that allowed 38.6 points per Game. And so Leach brought in Alex Grinch as the new defensive coordinator, former safeties coach at Missouri. The Air Raid attack loses quarterback Connor Halliday and is the first order of business for the team in addition to starting over on the defensive side.

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Sophomore LUke Falk was supposed to take over at QB after he saw significant time (243 pass attempts) in 2014, but that’s not the case as freshman Peyton Bender outplayed him in the spring scrimmage. Both QBs tossed an INT, but Bender finished with six TDs compared to Falk’s two. However, as of May, nothing had been declared. No matter, the offense will be pass-happy with Leach’s patented Air Raid attack, that’s for certain.

The offense loses its top two receivers in Vince Mayle (106 receptions, 1,483 yards) and Isiah Myers (78 receptions, 12 TDs), but that shouldn’t be too big of an issue in this offense. The likely top receivers will turn into River Cracraft (66 receptions), Dom Williams (43 receptions) and Gabe Marks, but one of them still has to step up and become the new No. 1. Wazzu doesn’t really run the ball, but last year’s leaders Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks are both back. The good news for the offense is that this is probably the deepest offensive line that Leach has had in his time in Pullman. Senior left tackle Joe Dahl will lead the way in what should be a solid group.

The defense remains a concern for obvious reasons, and while they only return two starters, that’s not a huge deal because they played a lot of guys last year, hoping for something to work. Unfortunately, it didn’t work and the Cougars only had eight takeaways all year, worst in the nation. The line has the most experience with a solid two-deep filtered with seniors. The secondary may be the biggest issue again, and could lead to more shootouts against some of the pass-heavy Pac-12 teams.

Washington State lost to Rutgers at home last year and will have to travel East for that Game. Otherwise, their other two non-Conference Games should be wins after only getting one last season. The Cougars will get a defensive test early in the Pac-12 campaign, as they have to travel to California, Oregon and Arizona in the month of October. Their best chances at wins will come in home Games against Oregon State and Colorado.

With a new quarterback and likely another defense in the bottom half of the conference, this probably won’t be the year that Wazzu gets to a bowl Game. They should at least improve in the win category, but only Four should be expected.

2015 Washington State Football Schedule

Sept. 5 vs. Portland State
Sept. 12 at Rutgers
Sept. 19 vs. Wyoming
Oct. 3 at California
Oct. 10 at Oregon
Oct. 17 vs. Oregon State
Oct. 24 at Arizona
Oct. 31 vs. Stanford
Nov. 7 vs. Arizona State
Nov. 14 at UCLA
Nov. 21 vs. Colorado
Nov. 27 at Washington