2009 Washington State Cougars Football Preview
2008 Record: (2-11, 1-8)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Paul Wulff (2-11 at Washington State State, 55-51 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Todd Sturdy
Defensive Coordinator: Chris Ball and Jody Sears
Other Key Returnees: C Kenny Alfred, WR Jeshua Anderson, LB Louis Bland, G B.J. Guerra, OT Micah Hannam, QB Marshall Lobbestael, WR Kevin Norrell, S Chima Nwachukwu, G Andrew Roxas, S Tyree Toomer
Key Losses: DT A’i Ahmu, CB Markus Dawes, LB Cory Evans, TE Devin Frischnecht, WR Brandon Gibson, OT Vaughn Lesuma, DE Matt Mullennix, CB Romeo Pellum, LB Greg Trent
Washington State State certainly hoped for better things during Coach Paul Wulff’s initial campaign with the Cougars, but the year ended on a high note with a victory over Washington State in the Apple Cup. On a team that lacked talent, and still does, even mustering two wins was not that bad of a thing. Now it is up to Coach Wulff to continue the long rebuilding process.
Washington State 's Strengths:
The offense, which ranked last in the Pac-10 in total yards last year, at least has potential. Injuries forced Coach Wulff to forget about his intended no-huddle offense, but that will change this year. Senior signal caller Kevin Lopina is the likely candidate to be under center, but his numbers were simply awful in 2008. Sophomore Marshall Lobbestael was not much better. There are a couple other options, but one of those two should step up and take over the starting job. Whether or not they can keep it is a whole different story. The now departed receiver Brandon Gibson was the only legitimate offensive playmaker last year and the Cougars will have to find some new receivers, but at least Jeshua Anderson is back and capable of making some plays. The ground game has the most promise with the return of Dwight Tardy and Logwone Mitz. If the offensive line, led by center Kenny Alfredo, can use the experience they gained last year to create some holes, WSU will be better than it was last year. But it really cannot be any worse.
Washington State 's Weaknesses:
The Washington State State defense gave up an amazing 443.38 yards and 43.85 points per game. The Cougars basketball team almost gave up fewer points than that per game. The pass defense was decent, but that was mostly due to the fact that nobody needed to bother to pass the ball in the second half or they would be accused of running up the score. The pass defense will also be the strength of the unit this year, and not just because the Cougars will get blown out on many occasions. Safeties Xavier Hicks and Chima Nwachukwu are both experienced players and should emerge as the leaders of the defense. The big concerns are in the front seven where sophomore linebacker Louis Bland has to grow up quickly and become a force in the middle of the defense.
The Bottom Line for the Cougars:
At the moment it appears as though there are no dangerous playmakers on offense. Gibson was the only player who should have struck fear into the opposition and now he is gone. It will take some time for the offense to find their new go-to-guys and, in the worst case scenario, there will be none to be found. Despite the win over Washington State and the return of 15 starters, which includes two kickers, the Cougars are probably the least talented team in the conference. Coach Wulff still needs to hit the recruiting trail and get his players into the system before this team will think about reaching a bowl.
By Joel Welser
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