Good morning. We made it, Cougar fans. There are no more lost Saturdays in 2017. One work week separates you from honest-to-goodness college football. Just 13 days separate us from the debut of Cougar Football. I just finished watching a replay of the 2016 win at snake oil salesman-led ASU, and I am ready to get the season going. Before we do that, let's talk about how the Cougs stack up with the rest of the conference, by position group.
Jon Wilner of the newly-expanded College Hotline did just that this week, and we'll give our own spin on his analysis. I've always loved Wilner's Pac-12 coverage, so the fact that he's expanding it even more makes me quite happy. Mr. Wilner ranked the conference's position groups this week, and WSU fared pretty well. First up, the quarterbacks.
Wilner ranks WSU second, behind Washington.
Give me one quarterback, I’ll take Sam Darnold. But for a pair — because the Trojans have a void behind Darnold — the edge goes to Jake Browning/KJ Carta-Samuels and Luke Falk/Tyler Hilinski.
I think there's an argument to be made about the top spot, but when you're the defending conference champion, you hold some sway.
Now for my biggest point of contention, the running backs. Wilner lists a top three of Washington, USC and ASU.
Huskies not only have talent but the perfect blend of speed and size with Myles Gaskin and power back Lavon Coleman. Watch out for USC rookie Stephen Carr.
Hang on, ASU? Yeah...no. WSU has four running backs. ASU has two. I know Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard are pretty good, but there's no way they're better than the Wicks/Morrow/Boobie/Harrington quartet. For what it's worth, WSU was "also considered."
WSU was "also considered" at receiver, with a top three of Colorado, USC and Washington. /sheds a tear thinking about Deontay Burnett.
WSU comes in third on the offensive line, behind Oregon and Washington. That also seems like a fair ranking, though Oregon's spot seems weighted far more toward speculation than past production. Wilner isn't quite as sold on the WSU offensive line as PFF College and their fabricated stats are.
Not convinced WSU’s headliners (Cole Madison, Cody O’Connell) are quite as good as billed.
Over to the defense, where Washington, Utah and USC take top honors on the line. WSU was one of two teams "also considered" which, I'll admit, was quite a surprise. I think this is due to Hercules Mata'afa, Hercules Mata'afa and Hercules Mata'afa.
The Cougars also garnered "also considered" at linebacker, with Washington, ASU and USC taking top honors. WSU has a chance to be really good in this position group if the Rush spot has an impact. I think Frankie Luvu will be a break out player this season.
Defensive back and special teams were the only two position groups that Wilner didn't rank among the top five. I think the defensive backs will shine this season, so long as the front seven can get into the backfield like they did in 2015. The guys at the back of the defense are sufficiently talented, but it'll take a team effort if they are to reach their full potential.
As for #Forces, well, uh, can't wait for September 2!
All in all, the Cougars showed pretty well here. A guy who follows the conference as close as anyone ranked six of their position groups in the top five of the Pac-12. If the defensive backs take a step forward, and if the Cougars never kick or punt, we could have something special on our hands.
Either way, college football is practically here. Let us rejoice and be glad.
WSU held its second scrimmage Saturday night, and all indications are the defense got a little payback following last week's offensive show. Theo Lawson reports that Britton Ransford's not-so-secret crush Nnamdi Oguayo returned, and hasn't missed a beat. Oguayo "sacked" Tyler Hilinski - sacks are a bit subjective since QBs are protected - and blocked a field goal.
Other heretofore players down the depth chart who stood out were receivers Renard Bell and Brandon Arconado. Bell caught just two passes, but put both of them in the endzone, including a 45-yard screen pass (the play comes at the 1:38 mark of the highlight video, and it's quite impressive). Arconado was the leading receiver, catching five passes for 108 yards. Hopefully these two guys provide some always-welcome depth in the receiving corps.
One thing you won't hear about after the scrimmage is whether anyone was injured, since WSU still enforces their Kremlin-like reporting policy. This tweet from Kyle Sweet would seem to indicate that Robert Lewis suffered some sort of injury during the scrimmage.
Prayin for my dude @Rob_lew15— Kyle Sweet (@kyle_sweet5) August 20, 2017
According to the stat sheet, Lewis caught one pass for one yard.
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