What you need to know ...
The whole might be better than the sum of the parts. It
might not be the nation's eighth best offense again, but it
should be more explosive through the air thanks to the return of
receivers Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus. If quarterback Alex
Brink can take a step up in his development, the sky's the
limit. The ground game will miss Jerome Harrison, but JUCO
transfers J.D. Deidrichs and Derrell Hutsona should help
DeMaundray Woolridge to keep things rolling. Even though there
aren't any all-stars on the line, it should be solid, especially
Passing: Alex Brink
205-358, 2,891 yds, 24 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: DeMaundray Woolridge
52 carries, 312 yds, 2 TD
62 catches, 1,097 yds, 13 TD
Star of the offense: Senior WR Jason Hill
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior WR
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman C Kenny Alfred
Best pro prospect: Hill
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hill, 2) QB Alex Brink,
3) WR Michael Bumpus
Strength of the offense: Receivers
Weakness of the offense:
Proven running backs
Other Pac 10 quarterbacks will receiver more publicity,
but Alex Brink could end up being the league's most productive
passer. He has too much talent to work with to not throw for
well over 3,000 yards and around 30 touchdown passes. There are
plenty of good prospects to work with for the future, but no
developed depth with the transfer of Josh Swogger to Montana.
The key to the unit: Brink has to be consistent, and
all the bright young backups need meaningful work. .
Quarterback Rating: 7.5
- Alex Brink, Jr. - 205-358, 57%, 2,891 yds, 24 TD, 13
interceptions, 56 carries, 106 yds, 1.9 ypc, 2 TD
With the starting job his in the battle with Josh Swogger over
the last few years, Brink is expected to blossom into a special
passer. He has the receiving corps to work with, and he has the
experience in the offense. Now he has to crank out consistent
numbers and cut down on his mistakes. He threw for 531 yards
against Oregon State and 423 against Cal, but the Cougars lost
both games. While he's not Michael Vick, he's a good runner who
won't be afraid to take off now and then.
- Gary Rogers, Soph. - 2-5, 12 yds
A pure bomber, 6-5, 241-pound sophomore saw a little bit of time
last year and needs to be ready to step in at a moment's notice.
He has a little bit of mobility, but his game is about using his
arm to keep pushing the ball through the air.
- Cole Morgan, RFr.
While he doesn't necessarily look the part at only 6-2 and 182
pounds, Morgan is a tough passer with a live arm. He'll battle
with Arkelon Hall for the number three spot all season long.
- Arkelon Hall. RFr.
Eventually the light will go on for the top recruit of 2005 and
he'll be the team's star quarterback. It's not going to happen
this year, but he'll be expected to grow into something special.
He's 6-1, 224 pounds with a huge arm and unlimited upside after
throwing for 4,930 yards and 56 touchdowns in high school. He
also attended the Elite 11 quarterback camp.
Last year the running game was
Jerome Harrison, Jerome Harrison, and Jerome Harrison on the way
to a 1,900-yard, 16 touchdown season. It might be tailback by
committee early on until the hot hand is found between short,
quick DeMaundray Woolridge, lightning fast JUCO transfer Derrell
Hutsona, and powerful JUCO transfer J.T. Diedrichs. Expect this
to be the focus this fall when all the new prospects are in
The key to the unit: Take advantage of the passing
game. The nation's 15th best ground game will obviously miss
Harrison, but there's a lot of talent to work with to come close
to the 2,332 yards amassed last year..
Running Back Rating: 7
- DeMaundray Woolridge, Soph. - 52 carries, 312 yds, 6
ypc, 2 TD
One of last year's big recruits, Woolridge saw a little bit of
time as a true freshman ripping off 133 yards in the blowout
over Nevada and 105 yards against Grambling. He didn't see much
action the rest of the way with Jerome Harrison getting so much
work, but he'll be the main man this season with sprinter's
speed in a compact 5-8, 233-pound body. The big question will be
his hands; can he catch like Harrison did?
- Kevin McCall, Jr. - 3 carries, 3 yds
A speed back who hasn't seen much work yet, he'll mostly see
time on special teams. He was the number two back coming out of
spring ball, but he'll have to perform at a high level this fall
with the star recruits looking to push for time.
- Derrell Hutsona, Jr.
The team's top recruit this season, Hutsona averaged 7.3 yards
per carry and cranked out 2,534 all-purpose yards for Grossmont
College in California last season. He's not big at 5-10 and 185
pounds, but he's one of the team's fastest players and best
- J.T. Deidrichs, Jr.
The power back in the mix this fall, the JUCO transfer is 6-2
and 236 pounds with pop to his runs. He ran for 1,012 yards and
19 touchdowns for Dixie State College last season and will be
part of the mix right away this fall. He's physical enough to
eventually be moved to linebacker if needed.
While it's not the USC receiving corps, it's
not far off. Jason Hill's decision to return for his senior
season gives the Cougars an All-America caliber weapon to work
with, while the academic troubles of Michael Bumpus appear to be
over providing a solid number two man. If Chris Jordan can be
consistent, there might not be any stopping the Cougar passing
game. Talented JUCO transfers boost up the depth at both
receiver and tight end.
The key to the unit: Chris Jordan and Michael Bumpus
have to take advantage of the lack of attention and make teams
pay for focusing on Jason Hill.
Receiver Rating: 9
- Jason Hill, Sr. - 62 catches, 1,097 yds, 17.7 ypc, 13
In one of the biggest surprises in college football this
off-season, the fringe All-America candidate decided to return
for his senior season when he could've been a first day draft
pick. He's has the size at 6-2 and 208 pounds and the deep speed
to be this year's star you need to watch. Not just flashy, he's
consistent and clutch. Of course, his big performances are what get him noticed with a 240-yard, three touchdown day against Cal
and a 190-yard, one score performance against Oregon State. He
has only gone six games over the last two seasons without a
- Michael Bumpus, Jr. - 30 catches, 357 yds, 11.9 ypc, 2
Bumpus got his grades in order and now should shine as the
number two man next to Jason Hill now that he's back after
missing the final four games of last season. Hill will draw all
the attention, so it'll be up to the quick Bumpus to shine in
the slot. He's a pure short to midrange threat with the
quickness to make the first man miss and crank out some big
- Chris Jordan, Sr. - 12 catches, 129 yds, 10.8 ypc, 1 TD
Jordan has been a streaky receiver over the course of his career
and wasn't quite as strong as he should've been last season. He
has the size at 6-1 and 210 pounds, and speed isn't an issue, so
now there's no excuse he can't be a big play target at flanker.
- Tight end Cody Boyd, Sr. - 14 catches, 169 yds, 12.1
Boyd came on at the end of last year turning into more than just
a huge blocking tight end behind Troy Bienemann. The 6-8,
257-pound senior finished the season with a five-catch, 65-yard
performance against Washington showing off his potential to be a
- Brandon Gibson, Soph. - 9 catches, 172 yds, 19.1 ypc, 2
Gibson didn't see a whole bunch of work as a freshman, but he
came up with some huge plays with a 44-yard touchdown grab
against Nevada and a 66-yard scoring grab against Cal. He'll
back up Chris Jordan at flanker.
- Charles Dillon, Jr.
The JUCO transfer was a huge recruit for the Cougars this year.
He's a speedy, athletic 6-1 and 180 pounds coming off a
64-catch, 1,004-yard, 13 touchdown season at Ventura College in
Oxnard, California. He was also a top basketball player.
- Finas Rabb III, Jr.
It'll be interesting to see what kind of an impact the JUCO
transfer can make right away. He didn't play football in high
school, but he was a good basketball player. It took a while,
but he became a JUCO all-star at Santa Anna College where he
made 27 grabs for 421 yards and six touchdowns. He's still very,
very raw, but his 6-6, 205-pound frame is too intriguing not to
get on the field.
- Tight end Jed Collins Jr. - 3 catches, 30 yds
Collins will have to battle for playing time with a slew of good
prospects behind him. He saw a little time last season catching
three passes in garbage time, but he'll need to be more of a
target this year. Blocking isn't a problem.
The line never got any recognition last season despite
paving the way for a big season for RB Jerome Harrison and finishing
second in the Pac 10 in sacks allowed. There are holes to be patched in
the interior, but the tackles are rock-solid. Huge Bobby Byrd and
talented Charles Harris are the best unsung pair in the conference,
while Sean O'Connor is a decent guard to work around on the left side.
There's almost no developed depth, so health will be a key early on.
The key to the unit: Continue to get a push for the
ground game. The passing attack will take care of itself, but if the
front five can be as physical as it was last year, everything will be
Offensive Line Rating: 7
- OT Bobby Byrd, Jr.
Byrd made the successful transition from guard to tackle last season and
now should be grow into one of the team's most dependable players. He's
a massive 6-7 and 314 pounds with good reach and decent pass protection
- OG Sean O'Connor, Sr.
The former tight end has gotten bigger and better over the last few
seasons getting up to 287 pounds while keeping his athleticism. He
turned into a surprisingly strong run blocker last season and should be
one of the key blockers returning to his spot on the left side.
- C Kenny Alfred, RFr.
Alfred takes over in the middle and has to be solid from day one as the
only unknown on the front five. He earned the starting spot this spring
showing good strength and a nice understanding of what he needs to do,
but he's going to need a little time before he becomes a star.
- OG Andy Roof, Soph.
Roof saw a little bit of action as a redshirt freshman and now will be
be expected to grow into a rock on the right side. He's a solid 6-3 and
316 pounds with the talent to eventually be an All-Pac 10 performer.
While he's not there now, he should quickly develop into a top blocker.
- OT Charles Harris, Sr.
Harris has his the weights hard since first coming to Pullman and now is
up to a huge 6-6, 308 pounds. He turned into an excellent pass blocker
last season showing off good athleticism. While no one is talking about
him as a potential All-Pac 10 performer, don't be shocked if that
- OG Josh Duin, Sr.
The former walk-on is one of the team's most experienced backup linemen
having seen a little bit of time over the last three seasons. While he's
not going to be a star, he'll be a key 311-pound contributor on the
right side behind Andy Roof.
- C Dan Rowlands, Soph.
A strong prospect coming to the program a few years ago, the 6-5,
283-pound sophomore can play either guard or center. He's more suited
for the middle where he'll back up Kenny Alfred.