When I was developing a serious love for college football, the first weekend in June was like Christmas, because with it came the preview magazines. First would come Athlon, followed by Lindy's, Sporting News, Street and Smith's etc. By the end of July, I'd purchased enough magazines to cover the entire coffee table. Athlon and Lindy's were cool because their regional covers almost always featured a Coug.
As time went on, and the internet proliferated, I found myself buying fewer of these magazines. Not only were they getting more expensive, but the information was all boiler plate. Every team preview basically consisted of describing what each returning player had done the year before, and which new guys were expected to break into the lineup. I even tried Phil Steele's phonebook-like preview a couple times. It didn't take long to realize that between the infinitesimal font, and enough acronyms to make a military guy blush, it was little more than a good paper weight.
Instead of paying for a bunch of magazines that won't get a second thought once the season starts, it's a much better idea to scour the internet and get all of that information and more, for free. If you ask me, the two best team previews every year are authored by Bill Connelly at SB Nation and Paul Myerberg at USA Today. Bill C. uses lots of advanced stats to analyze the upcoming season, and Myerberg goes into greater detail than many others.
Mr. Myerberg starts off the WSU preview with a mea culpa. Last preseason, he had WSU ranked #93, obviously one of the worst major conference teams out there. He doesn't take long to own up to it this year:
Leach and the Cougars greatly exceeded my preseason expectations, scrapping and clawing for six wins in the deepest, most competitive conference in college football and creating a new standard for annual success – postseason or bust.
He is also very bullish on WSU's receivers:
The receiver corps is positively loaded. Meet the best unit in the Pac-12: WSU's depth is a joke, I'd say, and the joke might be on conference and non-conference foes without the secondary depth needed to handle wave after wave of capable targets.
One of the things I like about Myerberg's preview is he doesn't take the easy way out when it comes to the running game. How many times have we read "WSU only averaged 53 rushing yards per game, one of the worst in the nation, blah blah blah"? Instead, Myerberg looks deeper and tells the rest of the country what we know:
Just because WSU's run game isn't statistically impressive doesn't mean it's not effective; the Cougars' top two returning backs, senior Marcus Mason (429 yards) and junior Teondray Caldwell (271 yards) combined to average 5.11 yards per carry last fall, so they churn it out when given the call.
There is a lot more here, and it's clear that Myerberg did his homework. The kicker is that he does this for all 128 teams in FBS. The only disagreement I had was when he called losing the Apple Cup the low point of the season. Even though I think WSU could have, and should have won that game, WSU was already a near-lock for a bowl game regardless. I think the season's low point came on Halloween, when WSU was embarrassed in front of a nearly empty stadium and a national television audience.
All in all, Myerberg is much higher on WSU this year than he was in 2013. The middling No. 61 ranking would be a good bit higher if he wasn't so worried about the WSU defense as a whole, and the DBs in particular. His preview is definitely worth your time.
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