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Ask CougCenter Anything: How should WSU try and replace Peyton Pelluer?

Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has some options against Nevada.

NCAA Football: Montana State at Washington State
Jahad Woods, you’re up.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the CougCenter mailbag. If you want to participate next week, send your Washington State Cougars queries to On to the questions!

Is there anything to learn about the cougs this week? As has been mentioned, they seem likely to rotate a ton of younger guys in there to get experience, but against Nevada, will that really tell us anything? My only hopeful take away is to see where Jahad Woods will fit in with Pelluers absence, and to see how the defense might shift around to maximize everyone's strengths.

Richard G.

How do you expect Grinch & Co to handle the Mike position with the loss of Peyton Pelluer? The listed backup is currently Nate Derider, but I'm pretty sure the coaching staff is high on RS freshmen Jahad Woods and Justus Rogers. Personally I would hope they use the Nevada game as a test for Woods and Rogers. Live action is extremely important to the development of young players and I'd like to see what we have with these guys. Derider will still be there as a fallback option, but I hope the coaches don't settle on him right away.

Bennett D.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Nuss: I’m definitely curious to see if they put Woods in the middle, or if they move Dotson to Mike to let Woods play the Will position where he’s been the backup. If it’s me, I put Woods at Mike — I’ve heard coaches say they’d rather have one position weaker than two. And the stakes are lower in this game, which seems like a really good time for Woods to learn on the job if you fancy him a Mike.

BA: WSU really lucked out in that regard, Nevada provides a nice opportunity to mix and match some pieces with game speed reps to evaluate the best configuration moving forward. I would expect to have to consult the roster a few times with all the different substitutions they’ll be making. Personally, I like Dotson at Mike. The physicality and experience he brings could fill not only the position but the leadership void there too.

Nuss: Just had to look up their sizes — Dotson’s a little bigger than I thought at 230. I’m coming around to your position. I wouldn’t be shocked if we see Nate DeRider play a bit more against more physical teams, but I think WSU stands to benefit most this weekend from Woods getting lots of experience. As far as anything else we could learn? I don’t know, it sure would be nice to see the offense be able to run the ball with some level of effectiveness.

BA: Effective running would be pretty great. We’ve had one clunker (BSU), one run/short-game heavy (MSU), and one pass-heavy (OSU). I’d like to see them avoid swinging wildly in either direction, to play a complete and balanced game as an offense (~45 completions, ~25 rush attempts). Hand-in-hand with that, it’d also be nice to see the big guys up front put together a dominant game.

How concerning is it that we are continuing to only use 3 IR's? Follow up question: Are all 3, who are playing, rotating positions or has 1 of them been on the field the entire time with the other 2 rotating?

Nathan S.

BA: Man, I’ve been wondering the same things. It looks like Renard Bell is consistently at H, but Kyle Sweet and Jamire Calvin could be flip-flopping between H and Y. It’s kinda hard to tell (from WSU’s 2x1 and 3x1 sets). All three are rotating through fairly regularly.

Nuss: Losing Robert Lewis really hurt. I’m not overly concerned about the shallow rotation at the moment, but I sure will be if someone else gets hurt! Also, remember this the next time spring practice rolls around and everyone’s all like “Easop Wilson has the best hands I’ve ever seen” or “Brandon Arconado has been the best receiver on the team.”

BA: Haha I was thinking; not exactly the best statement about Easop Winston, if he doesn’t get in rotation even now.

Nuss: I wonder how much of it has to do with blocking. Sweet/Calvin/Bell haven’t been great in that regard — maybe they just figure they’ll roll with the best pass catchers and see how it goes.

BA: Yeah that’s been a struggle.

Before the season I had the impression that if we stayed healthy and got lucky with the ball bouncing our way a few times, we have a shot at winning the north. With the injuries to both Lewis and Pelluer, how much have our chances decreased on winning the north?

Nathan S. (again)

Preston: Probably hard to tell at this juncture. UW has one of the easiest schedules in the country, including a non-conference schedule they did and should’ve cruised through. Hard to know what you have in Stanford or Oregon yet, though I don’t think the Ducks can get there in the first year under Taggart, even if they all get on the bus.

Probably have to wait until the middle of the next month to know for sure and see what you can get out of Pelluer’s replacements. We already kinda of know what we are getting out of the inside receivers so that’s at least a known quantity (relatively).

BA: Let’s consort human-calculator Bill C. and his spreadsheet of wonder.

So, all games within the North are projected within a single touchdown except Washington. Winning the North will come down to beating UW and that hasn’t changed much.

Nuss: This is sort of the curse of being a WSU fan: Generally, an inordinate amount of things have to go right to have a special season. I suppose 2002 is the exception in that the team was supposed to be very good and it was, but when you’ve got a team that’s not loaded with highly regarded recruits, you usually need a lot of experience and some luck both on the injury front and from the teams around you in the standings. Lewis isn’t a killer, and I don’t think Pelluer is either. But ... I don’t know that this team can sustain too many more chinks in the armor before big achievements start moving out of reach.

Any chance ESPN will reschedule USC vs. WSU game so WSU can finally host College Gameday? Has Bill Moos made any comments regarding the possibility? #199

Jared B.

Preston: I have a better chance of being crowned the Queen of England tomorrow than that game being moved to Saturday.

BA: I believe ESPN was who chose to have that be their Friday night, if ESPN had ever entertained the thought of that being a potential GameDay opportunity for Pullman, picking it up for a Friday slot is a weird way to show it.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State
“Did you hear that, Lee? They think we’d actually come to Pullman! HAHAHAHAHAHA.”
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Nuss: Yes, ESPN chose that game for a Friday knowing full well it could be a GameDay possibility. No, the game never had a chance of getting changed after that.

Also, GameDay is never coming to Pullman. We need to just accept this. They. Do. Not. Actually. Care. About. WSU. Our flag is free promotion for their program. We mean nothing to the people who actually make these decisions.

Preston: Even if the school had the option of doing it, people have made travel and weekend plans around this for the better part of a year. Changing it last minute throws all of that into disarray, though the hotels are all booked on a two night minimum. Regardless, it’s not happening.

Nuss: Really, I only put this question in here so we could rip on ESPN because we all already knew the answer.

I have just been accepted to WSU for the fall of 2018 as an incoming freshman. I have been a Coug fan since I was a little kid because my dad went their during Jack Tompson’s tenure. If I do go to the Palouse, which it increasingly looks like I will whether it be in Pullman or Moscow, are their any selling points which you guys have that you would be so kind to share with me and anyone else who might be considering going to Pullman.

Thank you for your dedication to the Website. I’ve probably spent 40% of my time in high school reading your posts. Keep up the good work.

Go Cougs!

Joshua from Eugene, OR.

Preston: Pullman rules, everywhere else drools.

Also, that makes Joshua Class of 2022, right? Holy hell, is this the last crop of freshman born in the 1900s? I’m not even 30 for three months and I just went to the AARP’s site without thinking about it; almost like an impulse.

More seriously, the best four years of my life, I spent in Pullman. I grew tremendously as a person, made friends I’ll have for life, and even met the future Mrs. Golden Throat. Ask me to make the decision to go WSU or elsewhere 100 more times, and I’d head to the Palouse every damn time. Plus, Idaho is moving to the FCS and you won’t get to see fun football teams and the Kibbie Dome smells like cat litter. No idea why, just does.

Nuss: Your dad is a Coug and he named you Joshua, as I did with my firstborn, so he sounds like a cool guy! I mean it when I say that going to WSU was one of the best decisions of my life, right behind proposing to my wife. (LOVE YOU SWEETIE!) I’m sure your dad has told you lots of stories of what it means to be a Coug, so I’m not sure what I can add on that front.

Here’s why I fell in love with WSU when I was in high school: I loved the idea of going to a big school in a small college town. Sports were important to me, so I never really considered going anywhere that didn’t have Power 5 sports. That meant I was going to either UW or WSU. I chose wisely.