Pac 12

2010 NCAA Football Preview: Washington State Cougars

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Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.

2009 Season Breakdown

2009 final record (overall, conference): 1-11, 0-9
Bowl Game: None
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): NR, NR
Conference finish: 10th Pac-10
Offensive rank: 119
Defensive rank: 120

2009 Individual Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Dwight Tardy, 417 yards, 2 TD
Passing: Jeff Tuel, 789 yards, 6 TD, 5 INT; Marshall Lobbestael, 655 yards, 3 TD, 8 INT; Kevin Lopina, 596 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
Receiving: Jared Karstetter, 540 yards, 6 TD
Tackles: Alex Hoffman-Ellis, 84 total tackles; Xavier Hicks, 81 total tackles
Sacks: Travis Long, Toby Turpin, Casey Hamlett and Anthony Laurenzi, 2 sacks each
Interceptions: Xavier Hicks, 3 interceptions; Myron Beck, 2 interceptions (1 touchdown)

2010 Season Outlook

(* denotes conference game)

Key Matchups

September 4 @ Oklahoma State: This will mark the Cougars biggest out of conference opponent in 2010, although the SMU matchup (their only victory last season) in Dallas is a big one as well. The Cougars were awful last season, finishing next to last and dead last in total offense and total defense, respectively. Oklahoma State is not expected to be as strong as they were in their back to back 9-4 seasons, but any glory that this Cougars team can grab against a team in a BCS conference would be very much welcomed in Pullman.

September 25 vs. USC: The Trojans no longer sit atop the Pac-10 and are looking very human these days. Still, a win over the Trojans doesn't seem to be in the cards for Washington State this season, even if a few players decide to jump ship on Kiffin. Stranger things have happened, of course.

December 4 vs. Washington: Win-loss doesn't mean a thing in rivalry games. Washington could be viable contenders in the Pac-10 this season with a Heisman-caliber quarterback, but that will only add to the Cougars' desire to hand the Huskies a loss in the Apple Cup. Washington leads the all-time series 65-31-6. The first installment of the rivalry took place in 1900 in Seattle and resulted in a 5-5 tie.

Preseason Rankings (will not officially be released until August)


Coaches': N/A

Key Losses

Dwight Tardy, RB; Kenny Alfred, C; Andy Mattingly, LB; Xavier Hicks, S

Key Returning Players

Jeff Tuel, QB; Jared Karstetter, WR; Travis Long, DE; Alex Hoffman-Ellis, LB; Reid Forrest, P

Offensive Overview

The offensive line returns four starters, losing only center Kenny Alfred to graduation. In his stead will be Andrew Roxas, who missed the 2009 season with an illness. Wade Davis and Jacob Gonzalez, two junior college transfers, could see time at the tackle positions, with tackles Micah Hannam and Tyson Pencer listed atop the spring depth chart. At guard, B.J. Guerra and Zack Williams are listed atop the spring depth chart with Steven Ayers expected to see significant time as well.

Wide receiver depth is a concern, although four of the five leading receivers from a year ago return. Johnny Forzani, the fourth leading receiver from a year ago, will not be returning as he plies his trade in the CFL. There are five wide receivers in this year's recruiting class that should add depth, albeit inexperienced depth, to the unit. The running back position saw the departure of the leading rusher from the past four seasons, Dwight Tardy. The Cougars have a few options at the position including James Montgomery, who as injured during the spring.

The quarterback position features two young players who combined to see action in every game but one last season. Jeff Tuel is the presumed starter, although Marshall Lobbestael is a solid option as well. The Cougars ranked near the bottom in passing offense and pass efficiency in 2009 and saw three quarterbacks play extensively. Establishing one quarterback as the leader of the offense will be important, but a little insurance on the sidelines never hurt anybody.

Defensive Overview

Travis Long started every game on the defensive line last season and will be the leader of this year's group of pass rushers and run stuffers. Kevin Kooyman, who was injured in the first week last year, is listed at the other end position on the spring depth chart. Brandon Rankin, a JC transfer, will contribute to the rotation. Toby Turpin, expected to start at defensive tackle, was dismissed from the school "for an undisclosed academic incident," according to The Spokesman Review, while Bernard Wolfgramm and Josh Luapo, expected to be major contributors, are in academic trouble of their own. While the end spots are secure, the tackle position could use a boost, especially if Wolfgramm and Luapo are at some point declared academically ineligible.

Alex Hoffman-Ellis will be back after leading the team in tackles last season, but will be without fellow linebackers Andy Mattingly and Jason Stripling. Hoffman-Ellis will move from middle linebacker to the WILL linebacker spot for the 2010 season. Louis Bland will contribute this season, but sat out the spring with an injury. Mike Ledgerwood was listed atop the spring depth chart at the MIKE linebacker spot in Bland's absence. Myron Beck, who also has experience at safety, is listed atop the depth chart at the SAM position on the spring depth chart.

The defensive backs suffered last season with a slew of injuries that sidelined some key contributors. LeAndre Daniels and Daniel Simmons, who each missed a significant part of the season due to injury, return for the 2010 season and are expected to be major contributors in starting roles. Tyree Toomer was also injured last season, but will be healthy and was listed second at the strong safety position behind Chima Nwachukwu. Aire Justin is expected to start opposite Simmons at cornerback, while Terrance Hayward should see significant playing time as well. The bright spot of the injuries sustained by key players last season is the experience gained by those who replaced those injured.

Special Teams Overview

Reid Forrest averaged 43.2 yards per punt last season while punting more times than any other player in the country (86 punts). While it says a lot about Reid, it doesn't say much for the Cougars offense's ability to move the ball. Nico Grasu was just 6 for 10 in field goal attempts and missed two extra point attempts, but did give the Cougars their lone win last season when he hit a 39 yard field goal in overtime against SMU. Blake Dunn and Alex Gauper could also see the field.

Head Coach: Paul Wulff

Wulff took over the head coaching duties for the Cougars for the 2008 season and has yet to lead them to a season of more than two wins. Of course, Wulff did not exactly take over a program with the cupboards bursting off of the wall and will field a team in 2010 that is full of promising players. Before taking over at Washington State, Wulff was the head coach at Eastern Washington, where he led his team to two conference titles and a 53-40 overall record.

Wulff is an alumnus of Washington State, having played center for the program in the late nineties before joining the Eastern Washington coaching staff as an offensive lines coach in 1993. The expectations are there for Wulff, and having been given a couple of years to rebuild the program and bring in his players, where merely equaling the combined win total of his first two seasons (three) may not cut it.

Top 2011 Draft Prospects

Chima Nwachukwu, S; Reid Forrest, P

Season Prediction

10th Pac-10

The Cougars finished second to last in the nation in total offense and dead last in total defense. They finished ranked in the 100's in 15 key statistical categories. That's a one way ticket to nowhere in college football. I know Cougars fans are hoping their team can find its way out of the Pac-10 cellar, and with much improved depth across the roster and valuable experience for several players, they very well could. But it's never easy to bounce back following two- and one-win seasons no matter how much promising talent is on the roster. The Cougars could find themselves fighting for ninth in the conference with Arizona State, but the Pac-10, while it lost some key players across the board, should be strong once more and the race for the conference crown will have all teams playing their best ball until the final week. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

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