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Thinking about Lamonte McDougle’s place in WSU’s defense

Reframing the lack of impact from the transfer nose tackle.

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WSU Athletic Communications

There is a redshirt sophomore defensive tackle on the Washington State Cougars roster who is third on the depth chart and struggling to find consistent playing time. Generally, that’s not much cause for concern — after all, defensive linemen can take time to develop, and nobody’s out here freaking out about why Jesus Echevarria isn’t playing, or why Ahmir Crowder hasn’t burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman.

However, this particular player transferred from the West Virginia Mounaineers, and he once was put on a “freshman all-Amercan” team by one publication that one time — plus the defense has struggled — which leads a lot of people to ask a lot of questions about Lamonte McDougle.

McDougle dropped off the depth chart this week, which served to stoke the flames of panic from a fan base conditioned to assume that it can’t ever really have nice things. Had McDougle left the program? Why wasn’t he one of the top two? WASN’T HE A FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICAN??

The Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson tackled that in his weekly mailbag with a thought exercise that’s worth your time:

Much of [the hoopla] derived from the nose tackle’s placement on ESPN’s Freshman All-American team in 2017, a list that was compiled by writer David M. Hale. Had McDougle not made the cut, we can probably deduct that his arrival in Pullman wouldn’t have been as highly-anticipated. ...

But, I’d pose this question to WSU fans: would you have altered your expectations of McDougle had he not earned ESPN Freshman All-American accolades? Would McDougle’s omittance from the depth chart be as concerning if he’d joined the Cougars after posting solid, but by no means earth-shattering, numbers during his rookie season in Morgantown?

It’s a great rhetorical question, partly because it’s pretty clear that fans’ expectations were derived from just how often “FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICAN” was plastered next to his name whenever it came up in reporting.

Lawson confirms that, yes, McDougle is still on the roster, and, yes, he’s expected to contribute this weekend. For his part, Leach said, “He’s got to be more consistent. The thing is, he’s got to be more reliable about executing the call, going where he’s supposed to be and attacking half a man.”

I mean, you can probably do this exercise yourself, since you’ve watched all of WSU’s games: McDougle has played, and not just a handful of snaps, but how many impact plays do you remember? Any? In fact, my lasting memory of McDougle so far is him getting obliterated into the end zone on a short touchdown run.

The honest truth is that he’s played like just another young 300-pound dude so far, and he’s going to have to start not playing like just another young dude to get on the field.


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