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Which new WSU assistant will have the biggest impact?

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There are lots of choices!

NCAA Football: Cure Bowl-Georgia State vs Western Kentucky Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning from lovely Washington, D.C., which I’m visiting for the second time this year. The first time was in March when they had one of the worst windstorms in their history. Mother Nature made up for it this time, sending in a rainstorm that would have made Noah cringe. But I digress.

We’re getting closer to training camp for our beloved Cougar football team. When practices open, there will be lots of new faces - yes, I know they were here during the spring, but there are actual games on the horizon. So this morning I was wondering, which coach will have the biggest impact on the on-field success of the team?

It’s pretty clear that in college football, most assistants earn their money as much for their recruiting prowess as for their ability to instruct their players. The Cougs had several new guys wearing WSU polo shirts on the recruiting trail over the winter, but now the focus turns to the field. Which one will make the biggest difference? Let’s take a look at the candidates.

Tracy Claeys, Defensive Coordinator (replaces Alex Grinch): Probably the easiest selection on the board, as he will be calling the plays. Claeys comes with a solid reputation for running a defense, and it will be interesting to see how different the WSU scheme is in 2018.

Matt Brock, Outside Linebackers/Special Teams (replaces Roy Manning and Eric Mele): Brock spent his last two seasons coaching linebackers at Bowling Green, and was a 2017 Broyles Trophy nominee. I know one thing, if he wants to live up to Roy Manning’s hype videos, he’s got some tough sledding ahead.

Darcel McBath (Cornerbacks) and Kendrick Shaver (Safeties): Alex Grinch also coached the defensive backs, so Mike Leach replaced him with two people. McBath is in his second season at WSU - his first as a position coach - having been a quality control coach last season. Shaver ran the defense at Utah State for the last two seasons, where the Aggies were quite proficient in pass defense and generating turnovers.

Eric Mele, Running Backs (replaces Jim Mastro): Mastro’s loss was almost certainly the most impactful in terms of recruiting. Mele moves over from special teams, and it will be interesting to see if there are any tangible differences. Mastro was an outstanding coach, so Mele has a lot to live up to.

Mason Miller, Offensive Line (Replaces Clay McGuire): One guy with an Air Raid background replaces another. Miller arrives after one year at Nevada to replace McGuire, who departed for a ship that is rapidly taking on water at Texas Tech. McGuire’s charges were a vital part of the 2015 breakout team, but didn’t perform as well as they probably should have over the last two seasons, so this season may be a positive change.

Tyson Brown, Strength and Conditioning (Replaces Jason Loscalzo): Brown may have had the quickest stint in assistant coaching history, as he departed for Elon College to take their head S&C position. Then Jason Loscalzo left, and Brown reloaded the U-Haul and made the short drive back from North Carolina. That was great news for the team and the players.

Steve Spurrier, Jr, Outside Receivers (replaces Derek Sage): Spurrier technically replaces Dave Nichol, who moved to Inside Receivers when Derek Sage left for UCLA. He coached quarterbacks at Western Kentucky last season, and has a lot of experience with receivers, having coached them for 11 seasons at South Carolina.

It’s pretty easy to go with Claeys since he’s in charge of the entire defense. One change is that, unlike Grinch, Claeys will not be coaching a specific position in addition to his overall duties. If you ask me (you didn’t) the most underrated move was getting Tyson Brown to come back. The S&C coach spends more time with the players than anyone, and continuity in that area is essential to team success.

It will be very interesting to see how all of these new assistants gel, both on the field and off. Hopefully the new perspectives are a hidden blessing of an offseason that was tumultuous, to say the least. Which coach do you think will have the biggest impact?

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