Fair warning, this is long, rambling and somewhat disjointed. It also contains a lot of stats and numbers, some of which say nothing about a lot of things, and others that say lots about nothing.
First, the state of the program under Bill Doba:
Doba was an integral part of the coaching staff that brought WSU it's greatest stretch in history, and was named the head coach after Price left. He was unable to capitalize on or even sustatin the success that WSU had experienced over the last few years. While Doba was a gifted X's and O's guy, at least at one point, he was a poor recruiter. He was responsible for four recruiting classes, from 04-07. Two of these classes (06 and 07) saw less than 15 players make it to school. There was also a heavy reliance on JC transfers, with 29 JC's over the 4 classes. This is a shoddy foundation that was masked by players recruited either early in Doba's time or by Price, the RS Sr.'s of that team. Here are their numbers
Passing: 305/503, 60.6%, 3817yds, 7.59 y/a, 26 tds, 15 int, 135.5 rtg.
Rushing: 373 attempts, 1391 yds, 3.7 y/a, 11tds
S&P (Total): 204.2, 55th overall
S&P (Offense): 110.1, 32nd overall
S&P (Defense): 94.1, 75th overall
As we all know, after the 2007 season Doba was relieved of his duties and Paul Wulff was brought in. Things hardly went well. The cougs would drop from 55th to 117th in total S&P. There are many, many reasons for this outside of Wulff. The Phantom recruiting Classes from 05-07 were the main issue, which was compounded by Wulff kicking players off the team and injuries. Lots of injuries. This also had plenty to do with Wulff and the coaching staff. Their first run at the big time facing into a situation that was absolutely terrible and I think it is safe to say that they were in over their heads. It was not pre ordained that the 2008 team had to be historically bad. Bad, yes. 69-0? No. However, I think it is fair to say that the program was in a deep hole, a hole not initially dug by Wulff and one that he couldn't be expected to immediately climb out of. I also think it is fair that Wulff picked up the shovel and dug down a little deeper in his first season, whose numbers looked like this.
Passing: 191/361, 1898 yds, 52.9%, 5.26 yds/a, 6:21, 90.9
Rushing: 339 att, 1182 yds, 3.5 yds/att, 13 tds
S&P (Total) 150.6, 117th overall
S&P (Offense) 68.0, 118th overall
S&P (Defense) 82.6, 105th overall
I do not know what to say about the 2009 season. Talent wise, it was certainly the lowest spot in cougar history. The full effect of Doba's last few recruiting classes was being felt, as was a historic amount of injuries. The team, when healthy, showed small, small flashes of competitiveness. However, they also showed large, large flashes of super shitty, leading to a multitude of blowouts. Some young guys like Tuel, Karstetter and Long showed some flashes, but to me 2009 was not a season, it was a series of practices for other teams. The numbers:
Passing: 195/372, 2135 yds, 52.4%, 11:16 5.74yds/a, 101.8
Rushing: 233 att, 742 yds, 3.19yds/a, 5 tds
S&P (Total) 125.3, 120th overall
S&P (Offense) 50.6, 120th overall
S&P (Defense) 74.7, 117th overall
2010 has changed what a lot of us thought was possible for this team. Young guys have stepped up in big ways and this is obviously the best team Wulff has ever put on the field at WSU. However, they have yet to get over the hump and have shown that they can still get blown out (USC, OSU, ASU.) They have also shown they they can play with the best in the league (UO, Furd, UA). I am going to take a deeper at 2010, and try and see what we are looking at in 2011.
Passing: 160/270, 2067yds, 14:9, 7.67yds/a, 134.7
Rushing (without qbs): 176 attempts, 600 yds, 3.41 yds/att, 6 tds,
S&P (total): 179.7, 93rd overall
S&P (Offense): 89.0, 87th overall
S&P (Defense): 97.8, 60th overall
These numbers, of course, are not an entire season's worth, and are in fact not updated through the stanford game.
Here are the guys getting it done in 2010:
QB: Tuel So
RB (Committee): Montgomery RS Sr., Mitz RS So, Staden RS Sr, Winston So
O Line (Left to Right): Gonzales Jr, Jacobson Jr, Williams RS Sr, Guerra RS Jr, Hannam RS Sr, John Fullington Fr.
WR: Wilson Fr, Simone So, Blackledge Sr, Karstetter Jr., Solomon RS Sr., Barton, JR
Main Contributors, defense, 2010:
'DE: Long So, Kooyman RS Sr, Coerper So, Hamlett Sr,
DT: Rankin RS Jr., Wolffgram RS Sr, Laurenzi RS So, Hoffart RS So,
WLB: AHE RS Jr., Kafusi RS Fr
MLB: Mizell Fr, Ledgerwood Jr., Higgons Sr
SLB: Beck RS Sr, Jamal Atofua, Darren Markle
RCB: Simmons RS So, Justin RS Jr.
SS: Toomer RS So, Locker Rs Fr.
FS: Bucannon Fr Nwachaku Sr.
LCB: Washington RS Fr, Horton Fr.
Notable injuries (Returning in 2011): Luis Bland (JR, Med Shirt), Toni Pole (Fr, Redshirting), Kristoff Williams (Fr, Redshirting) Ricky Galvin (Fr, Redshirting) Jordan Pu'u Robinson (RS Fr, Med Shirting)
2011 starting positions spoken for:
QB: Tuel Jr
OL: Jacobson RS Sr, Fullington So, Gonzales RS Sr, Guerra Sr
WR: Wilson So, Karstetter Sr
DE: Long Jr
DT: Rankin RS Sr
LB: Kafusi RS So, Mizell So
CB: Simmons RS Jr, Washington RS So
S: Toomer RS Jr, Bucannon So
I left out a lot of the 2010 contributors as 2011 starters because while lots of guys have been serviceable this year, they have not convinced me that they will start in 2011 (lookin at you, Logwone). So by my count we have these positions to fill:
RB: 3-4 guys getting the rock Mitz, Galvin, Sankey and Winston could be a decent rotation.
OL: Need a starter to replace Williams at C, and a couple guys to step up for rotation and depth. Andrew Roxas could fill in at Center, with Valenzuela, Bosch and Pencer looking to unseat a starter or be the # 2's .
WR: Not penciling Gino in as a starter, looking for kristoff, Ratliff, Barton and Simone to battle for the start and rotation reps.
DE: Lots of possibilities here, Rankin could slide out, a Frosh could emerge, etc... Pu'u Robinson's return clouds this even further.
DT: Gun to my head I am saying Rankin and Laurenzi, but Pole is in the mix as well as some incoming freshmen and guys like Hoffart.
LB: We need to replace Beck, anybody think AHE could cover the TE? I have my doubts, but it looks like he is at his best in pass coverage, for what that is worth. Look for Markle, Sua and Bland to battle it out for the start here. That kind of competition is something we have lacked for a LOOONNNNGGGG time.
CB: Starters are set barring injuries, but the secondary needs to rotate and there is always nickle and dime backs. Look for Horton, Justin and some guys redshirting this year like Brandon Golden to be in the upper end of the rotation.
S: Again, starters are set, but there is going to be quite a battle beneath the starters for the back end of the secondary. Casey Locker, Anthony Carpenter, Tyrone Ducket and Jay Matthews are names to watch when training camp begins.
Things I cannot wait to see:
LB: We are going to have a SIIICCCKKKK crew at LB. Mizell, Kafusi, Su'a, Bland... This is a MEAN combo, and they will be together for quite some time.
WR: If you believe the reports, our best lineup of receivers was unable to see the field this year with Williams hurt. I am looking for big things from this group, especially with some speed and size coming with the 2011 class in guys like Dominique Williams and Henry Eaddy. If they continue to progress and produce, we could be looking at the best receiving corps in the Pac.
Defensive Backfield: This is a backfield that is beginning to show flashes of great things like our old secondaries used to in the early 2000's. They are young, fast, love to hit and are confident in their abilities. In the coming years we will be able to play a super aggressive style on D because our DB's can match up and SHUT DOWN receivers. Salivating.
Oh, and QB. We are pretty good there.
Positions that I am unsure of:
DT: If Rankin stays at DT, Pole is legit and Laurenzi is decent I think this group should work. If Rankn adds another 15 or 20 pounds, Hoffart gains some size and one of the commits can play right away, this could be a very good group, but I am not sold.
RB: If Galvin is healthy, Sankey is committed and Mitz can learn the plays, then this group could be special. If Galvin is fragile, Sankey bounces and Mitz can't block, then this group could be special of the helmet and drool variety.
Positions that I am terrified for:
OL: Returning four starters from a terrible unit with terrible depth behind it. I do not know who will replace Williams, nor who will replace any starters when they go down. I hope I am wrong but I have little faith in Pencer, Valenzuela and and a handful of walk ons. To put it in another light, consider how bad the line play has been this year, especially from Williams with his poor snaps and personal fouls. Now consider that these are the BEST players on the team. They went through countless variations to the line in camp, and nobody else emerged, nor has anyone this year outside Fullington. Not good, and the incoming guys do not seem ready.
DE: We have some talent coming in at the position, but it is undersized and needs time to develop. Long is good, Rankin could move and everyone else on the team is an unknown. Hopefully improved DT play will lighten the load for the group, but I do not see us fielding a tandem better than Long-Kooyman next year.
Overall: I am excited about the potential for this team next year. The skill positions on offense look good, the passing game should be excellent and the running game improved, with Jeff Tuel coming into his third year under center. The defense should have speed and attitude, as well as solid tackling. However, all of this hope and expectation could be for nothing if the offensive and defensive lines do not drastically beat my expectation of them. There is potential for them to be good but not great, and unfortunately I see their ability to reach that potential as unlikely. The Offensive line will likely continue to be a liability in the deep passing game, and will probably marginalize any improvements in the running back talent. Our linebackers will likely continue to meet opposing offensive linemen 5 yards off the line, and our front four will probably continue to fail to generate pressure on their own. This will put deep pressure on our secondary allow opposing qb's time to find the open man.
If Paul Wulff is the coach in 2011, and I hope he is, he will have the deepest, most talented team he has ever had at WSU. This team should be as good as the 2007 team but not nearly as top heavy and much more sustainable. If Wulff is not the coach next year, whoever comes in to replace him is walking into a much better situation than Wulff walked into, and I think that fact is undeniable. Wulff has not made the most of his time here. He has not done the best possible job. However, I think that he has not done the worst possible job and the building of the roster has gone very well.
So, I guess this is my state of the cougars address. What do you guys think? Wrong? Right?