It's Monday of game week, which means WSU has released its first set of game notes, which means the first depth chart of the season is finally available for public consumption and debate.
There's are no major surprises if you've been paying attention to practice reports throughout camp, but if you've only been casually following the preseason machinations, there are a few things on here that probably will catch your eye. But before we get to that, here's the two deep (the starter is on top, and they're color coded by class -- full-size version here):
Now, observations, in no particular order.
Yep, that's a true freshman starting at corner. Again. Darrien Molton has won a starting job across from Charleston White, and while that might irritate you, note that both Marcellus Pippins and Pat Porter showed promise last year. Unless both have significantly regressed, this says more about what Molton can do than what Pippins and Porter can't do.
Taylor Taliulu has won a safety job again. He's done this four consecutive years now. Let's hope he's putting it all together as a senior and it's not the fourth consecutive year he gets benched. Related: It's great to see touted junior college transfer Shalom Luani has won a starting spot out of the gate.
Nickelback sure looks like a third safety spot in Alex Grinch's defense. Both starter Isaac Dotson and backup Darius Lemora are "former" safeties, and Dotson was even thought to be a starter at one of the traditional safety spots up until a couple of weeks ago. Dotson is actually bigger than the SAM linebacker he's replacing (Cyrus Coen), but Lemora is lighter; it'll be interesting to see if Grinch mixes and matches personnel here and in the other safety spots depending on opponent. In other words, could Dotson shift back to FS/SS and Lemora into nickel against a team like Cal?
Man, there's still not that much green on that chart, is there?
Robert Barber's Heisman Trophy campaign is officially underway. Only those of you who have been around a while will understand that reference.
My goodness, those receivers look scary. You'll notice that Tyler Baker has moved from River Cracraft's backup at Y to Robert Lewis' backup at H; our best guess is that it's an effort to get Baker on the field more, since Cracraft figures to play more snaps than Lewis. (This also doesn't preclude Baker from playing both H and Y in any given game, though that's not generally preferred by Leach.)
You'll also notice true freshman Tavares Martin Jr. is Gabe Marks' backup at Z. Again, like Molton, this should actually excite you.
There have been no changes in the offensive line from the one that played the majority of last season. I can still hardly believe I actually typed that. There also appears to now be legitimate depth, to the degree that if a starter gets hurt, there might actually not be a drop off. Imagine that!
LOLOL Luke Falk (or) Peyton Bender. Sure Mike, we'll play along! Maybe Leach's statement to KJR last week was just a ruse. Maybe, as Brian Anderson suggested to me, they're (or) because both are going to play extensively in a 60-point blowout. Maybe, they're just doing that out of the gate so that they don't raise suspicion later in the season if there's a change. Maybe, it's nothing at all!
I'm legit excited about kickoff and punt returns. Those are some explosive athletes. WE MIGHT ACTUALLY HOUSE A KICK THIS YEAR YOU GUYS!!!
The punter and kicker scare the pants off me. I'm also leery of long snappers I've never seen not screw up. Let's just score a touchdown every time.
That's all I have. What caught your eye? Also, I've embedded the full game notes below.