One of the biggest concerns for WSU has been the play of the offensive line, which annually has been one of the worst in college football over the past five years. There's hope that the unit will be better this year, but in listening to Mike Leach tell it after spring ... well, you might not want to get your hopes up too much.
Leach said in a post-spring teleconference with reporters that if the season were to start today, four of the five starters on the offensive line would be current or former walk-ons. In case you're not familiar with the scholarship machinations of the team, that presumably would be a combination of Rico Forbes (always on scholarship) and Elliott Bosch, Gunnar Eklund, Zack Brevick and Joe Dahl.
I don't mean to imply that the guys can't play because they're current or former walk ons -- Bosch was arguably the team's best offensive lineman last year. The starting center on the 1997 Pac-10 champions, Lee Harrison, was a former walk on. There's occasionally talent in those ranks.
But four out of five? Maybe Paul Wulff was just exceptional at finding hidden gems that are so good that they're overtaking their more highly regarded counterparts. Unfortunately, more likely scenarios include the scholarship players just not playing very well and/or Leach trying to stoke the flames of competition heading into the summer.
It's worth noting that Christian Caple said he really only counted three current or former walk ons in the regular starting line. (I believe Matt Goetz -- always a scholarship athlete -- was in there, but I don't know which of the other four that was in place of.)
Still ... man. The mere possibility that Wulff handed out scholarships to offensive linemen for four years and it's plausible that just one of those guys would be in line to start in the second year after his ouster is just ... man.
Leach did mention that there's more depth than a year ago, but it appears John Fullington and Jake Rodgers have some work to do.
The topic du jour with all of the coaches on the teleconference was the amount of contact coaches are allowed to have with players over the summer. Most coaches (naturally) would like more contact with players. Via Todd Dybas:
"One of the biggest ironies that exists in the calendar and how we conduct business college football-wise is, when players are most likely to have problems or get in trouble is in the summer. That's exactly when coaches aren't allowed to have meetings with them. By rule you're not allowed to have much contact with them.
"I always thought that was a little odd. You're responsible for everything they do, but you can't talk to them."
On facing former assistant Sonny Dykes at Cal: "I'm getting kind of used to it... there's quite a few," Leach joked. "I'm just kind of looking forward to seeing him in the fall."
On the difference between last spring and this spring: "People knew where to be when. Our work was better and we had a more focused effort."
A couple of other interesting thoughts from other coaches:
Oregon State coach Mike Riley with the "well, duh" quote of the day on the new playoff: "I kind of chuckle at it, personally. I think it's kind of been done to appease the masses."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on the addition of Dennis Erickson, one of the OGs of the spread offense, as offensive coordinator: "We are more firmly entrenched in the spread now. It's not a complete overhaul, but he's added some things that really have enhanced what we're doing."