2008 Washington State Cougars Football Preview
2007 Washington State Record: (5-7, 3-6 Pac 10)
2007 Bowl: none
Washington State Coach: Paul Wulff (1st year at Washington State, 53-40 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Todd Sturdy
Defensive Coordinator: Chris Ball and Jody Sears
Returning Leaders for Washington State:
Other Key Returnees: DT A’i Ahmu, C Kenny Alfred, LB Kendrick Dunn, LB Cory Evans, OT Micah Hannam, OT Vaughn Lesuma, CB Chima Nwachukwu, G Dan Rowlands, LB Greg TrentKey Losses: S Husain Abdullah, QB Alex Brink, WR Michael Bumpus, G Bobby Byrd, TE Jed Collins, WR Charles Dillon, DE Matt Mullennix, DT Ropati Pitoitua
How about this for a telling statistic… Washington State ranked 28 th in the nation and second in the conference in total offense in 2007. Yet they only scored 25.7 points per game, ranking 73 rd in the nation and eighth in the Pac-10. That is good news for the kicker, but not so good for putting a tally in the win column. A lot of that has to do with turnovers and keeping those to a minimum will be key for new coach Paul Wulff.
Washington State's Strengths:
Despite the turnovers, the offense put up a lot of yards last season and will once again. It might take a little time to adjust to Coach Wulff’s no-huddle spread offense, but once the Cougars get the hang of it, the points will start adding up. Alex Brink will hand off the quarterback duties to Gary Rogers, who has been his little used back up for quite some time. With Brandon Gibson returning after catching 67 passes for 1,180 yards and nine touchdowns, WSU has their go-to receiver. Former cornerback Michael Willis and junior Reid McEllrath are more than capable secondary options for Rogers. The ball will spend a lot of time in the air, but having Dwight Tardy back will at least give the team a threat to run the ball.
Washington State's Weaknesses:
The defense returns eight starters. For a unit that gave up 418 yards per game, that might not be a good thing. The new staff is mixing things around a bit to find what works the best, especially in the secondary. Husain Abdullah is the only lost starter, but it is very possible that corner Chima Nwachukwu will move to safety and Alfonso Jackson will move to corner. The linebackers could use a boost of talent, but at least Washington State gets Cory Evans, Greg Trent and Kendrick Dunn back. The line has the most to replace, losing two starters. End Andy Mattingly led the team in tackles and sacks last year, but the team could use a few more Mattingly’s on the roster, preferably a couple Mattingly’s that weigh about 50 more pounds then he does. The Cougars hit the junior college scene hard to find some d-linemen and Josh Luapo, Jessy Sanchez and Bernard Wolfgramm will get an opportunity to make an impact right away.
The Bottom Line for the Cougars:
The defense really has nowhere to go but up. But even if the defense is a little better, the offense will probably be a little worse…at least early in the season. The 13-game schedule is not as bad as it could be, but the Cougars will need to win seven games to reach a bowl and that might be asking a little too much in Coach Wulff’s first year.
2007 Washington State Cougars Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 115.67 (100th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 319.58 (8, 1)
Total Offense: 435.25 (28, 2)
Scoring Offense: 25.67 (73, 8)
Rushing Defense: 162.33 (67, 7)
Pass Defense: 255.67 (93, 8)
Total Defense: 418.00 (85, 8)
Scoring Defense: 32.42 (97, 10)
Turnover Margin: -.17 (73, 8)
Sacks: 2.25 (45, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.83 (46, 3)
By Joel Welser
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