BOWL SEASON, it seems, just ended. Yet this Thursday will mark the one-month countdown to the start…
Projecting WSU's 2014 depth chart: Offense
Connor Halliday / Tyler Bruggman / Luke Falk
Comment: Halliday has tons of game experience, Bruggman has none having redshirted last year. But this might be an interesting battle this spring. Mike Leach since he's been in Pullman has always declined to name a starter until just before the season opener, even when it's been obvious as to who the main man will be. But this time there might be some grist to it – Bruggman excelled last season during Thursday Night Football and Halliday, while his decision-making improved in the latter half of the season, tossed 22 interceptions. Falk is a walk on but Leach and the staff are high on him.
Marcus Mason / Teondray Caldwell / Jeremiah Laufasa / Theron West / Gerard Wicks / Jamal Morrow
Comment: Mason turned a corner last year but WSU still needs more out of the running back position. Caldwell's production declined in the second half of the season and West made a nice late charge. Meanwhile, Wicks and Morrow both redshirted this past season but there are those who think one or both could make a stab at not just playing time but a starting role -- there were times they dominated the Thursday youth practice sessions, particularly Morrow who was both athletic and physical. And Wicks showed some very good hands. Laufasa is a CF.C favorite but he too saw his production decrease as 2013 progressed and he had three fumbles last season (one lost.)
Dom Williams / Vince Mayle / Kristoff Williams / Isiah Myers
Gabe Marks / Isiah Myers / Vince Mayle
River Cracraft / Kristoff Williams / Sebastian LaRue
Brett Bartolone / Rickey Galvin / Sebastian LaRue / Calvin Green / Robert Lewis / John Thompson
Comment: All things being equal, Leach wants to have eight receivers at four spots catching passes. It is more difficult here than at any other spot on offense to project who starts and where. Mayle, for example, last year was at the X one day, and Z the next; Kristoff would line up on the outside at the X, and then move inside to the Y. And on and on. WSU figures to have 10 legitimate grabmasters in the mix for those eight spots this spring.
Wildcard: As if the veteran returnees aren't enough, there are three wildcards in the mix this spring. We're projecting LaRue will find a home inside but he could just as easily line up on the outside. Wherever he lines up, big things are expected of him this spring (and if his appeal not to have to sit out a year after transferring from Texas A&M is successful, expectations are large for this season as well.) Calvin Green might open some eyes this spring given his burst, it all depends on how fast he picks things up. Lewis now has a full year in the WSU system and should also figure into the special teams.
Gunnar Eklund / Devonte McClain
Joe Dahl / Cole Madison / Eduardo Middleton / B.J. Salmonson
Sam Flor / Carlos Freeman
Riley Sorenson / Pierson Villarrubia
Cody O'Connell / Cole Madison / Jacob Seydel
Also of note: Sean Krepsz / Nick Begg
Comments: Eklund and Dahl figure to hold down the left side – unless o-line coach Clay McGuire, decides that issues elsewhere necessitate movement. *That also brings up another point - spring is the time for experimentation. A number of players figure to be moving around and not just the o-linemen. When that happens, it doesn't necessarily mean a permanent change is in the offing.
It should be a good battle at center between Freeman and Flor this spring -- but don't rule out Sorenson there either. He got practice snaps at center last year along with Flor and Freeman as the Cougs prepared to say goodbye to Elliott Bosch. Freeman, by the way, is thick and tough to move when he employs good technique.
We're projecting Sorenson will be at right guard, all things being equal. And when it comes to the youth who lack playing experience on the o-line, Sorenson played the best of them all according to our man on the ground this past season. O'Connell has a great opportunity to, at the least, start laying the groundwork and show that he's ready to nail down a starting tackle spot.
Among the challengers, Middleton and McClain both served as good run blockers in practice last season during TNF and Middleton was one Leach mentioned in particular during the early bowl practices. All indications are that Madison is going to be a good one, one question is how much effective weight he'll have put on by the spring after being listed this season at 6-5, 265.
Seydel missed time to injury last season but before that, he was struggling in making the adjustment from JUCO to Pac-12 play. It's worth noting though that a JC guy can look a bit lost his first year and then make a sudden surge in Year 2. Krepsz and Begg joined the program in January – Krepsz isn't far off physically at 6-5, 295 but it's asking a lot for a guy to compete for playing time 1 ½ months after graduating high school early. Begg (6-5, 255) figures to need some time in the weight room before he's ready to compete up front.
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