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2008 CFN Washington
State Preview |
2008 Wazzu Offense
2008 Wazzu Defense |
2008 Wazzu Depth
2007 CFN Wazzu Preview |
2006 CFN Wazzu
Head coach: Paul Wulff
1st year at Washington State
9th year overall: 53-40
Off. 19, Def. 15, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 15
Best Cougar Players
2. DE Andy Mattingly, Jr.
3. LB Greg Trent, Jr.
4. RB Dwight Tardy, Jr.
5. LB Cory Evans, Sr.
6. C Kenny Alfred, Jr.
7. QB Gary Rogers, Sr.
8. OT Vaughn Lesuma, Sr.
9. RB Chris Ivory, Jr.
10. FS Chima Nwachukwu, Soph.
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2008 Record: 0-0
Aug. 30 Oklahoma
Sept. 6 California
Sept. 13 at Baylor
Sept. 20 Portland State
Sept. 27 Oregon
Oct. 4 at UCLA
Oct. 11 at Oregon State
Oct. 18 USC
Oct. 25 OPEN DATE
Nov. 1 at Stanford
Nov. 8 Arizona
Nov. 15 at Arizona State
Nov. 22 Washington
Nov. 29 at Hawaii
CFN Prediction: 6-6
Sept. 1 at
Wisconsin L 42-21
Sept. 22 at
USC L 47-14
Oregon L 53-7
California L 20-17
Wash. W 42-35
It’s the dawn of a new era at Wazzu, but progress will be gradual for a
program that slipped to the Pac-10’s second division over the last four
Correctly sensing things had gotten stale under Bill Doba, who could
never get the one big moment needed to turn the team into a winner, the
Cougars have turned to former player Paul Wulff, who’s brought a fresh
energy and a new playbook back to the Palouse. He’s a true believer who
really thinks things can be changed up for the better right away. He
might be the only one.
The Cougars will spend much of the upcoming season digesting the new
no-huddle spread offense and making the switch on defense from the 3-4
to the 4-3. At its peak under Mike Price, Wazzu was an offensive
machine, something the new regime would like to revive, and good enough
to play with anyone in the conference.
The first order of business will be to uncover a replacement for
all-time leading passer Alex Brink. Senior Gary Rogers has the edge in
experience, but with a new regime in Pullman and a desire for a more
mobile quarterback, the competition was wide open in the spring. That
changed as Rogers nailed the door shut, and now he has to be the leader
who can carry the offense. The coaching staff plans to provide some help
with more from the running game and more aggressive play-calling.
Naturally, the Cougars would love to shock everyone and end their
four-year bowl drought, but 2008 is more about setting the table for
2009. With so much turnover taking place after winning just five games,
this isn’t going to be a smooth year. Just don’t tell Wulff.
What to watch for on offense: Opposing defenses to put everyone one and the waterboy on
WR Brandon Gibson. Is there a No. 2 receiver to help Gibson out? It
might be an overstatement to suggest that Michael Willis will be the
most important player in the offense, but the former defensive back has
to make teams pay for worrying so much about Gibson. If this spring was
any indication, it might happen.
What to watch for on defense: The ditching of the 3-4 to affect
other areas. Now that the defense doesn’t need four starting
linebackers, the coaching staff can move around some of the players to
boost the pass rush and the secondary. There will be some ongoing
tinkering, but the hope will be for a more consistent producing group of
The team will be far better if… the pass defense feeds off the
momentum of last November. In total, the numbers from 2007 aren’t very
impressive, but over the final five games, the light went on for the
Wazzu secondary, allowing only two touchdowns and picking off five
passes. More of the same will be needed from a defensive backfield that
got shuffled around in the offseason and is the perceived
weakness of the defense.
The Schedule: Compared to the rest of the Pac 10 there aren't any
real breaks with 13 games packed in tight. The one open date
(compared to Washington, who has three off weeks) comes before a late
October trip to Stanford. It would've been nice to have gotten a break
before facing one of the big boys. The non-conference schedule isn't too
awful considering the opener against Oklahoma State is played in
Seattle. In conference play three of the Pac 10 heavyweights, Cal,
Oregon and USC, have to come to Pullman, but there are back-to-back road
dates at UCLA and Oregon State in between the showdowns with the Ducks
and the Trojans. The nice reward, no matter what happens the rest of the
season, is waiting at the end with a trip to Hawaii. If there's no bowl
game in sight, going to Honolulu in late November will be like one.
Best offensive player:
WR Brandon Gibson. Had he left early for the NFL Draft, Gibson was
projected as a third or fourth round selection. Instead, he’ll spend one
more season tormenting Pac-10 defensive backs, while working to improve
his physical and mental strength. One of the nation’s premier deep
threats, he caught 67 passes for a school-record 1,180 yards, and nine
Best defensive player: DE Andy Mattingly. What do you do with your
best pass rusher, when he happens to be a linebacker? You move him even
closer to the quarterback. Mattingly has relocated to defensive end a
year after he exploded for 91 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and eight
sacks, despite starting just six games. While his number of tackles will
surely go down, his chances for dispensing havoc in opposing backfields
will be much higher.
Key player to a successful season: QB Gary Rogers. Washington
State’s quest to install an up tempo, no-huddle spread hinges heavily on
the success of Rogers, a first-time starter. The 6-7, 234-pound senior
has good zip on his passes and is more agile than his size might
indicate, but he has big shoes to fill taking over for Alex Brink, who
was one of the team’s lone bright spots. Rogers used the spring to
virtually lock down the starting job, adopting the role of a leader and
looking sharp in the new system.
The season will be a success if ... the Cougars win six games.
Any improvement from last year’s 5-7 record will be deemed a success for
Wulff, especially since a new offense and defense are being installed.
While there is some talent on the Palouse, this remains a second-tier
Pac-10 program that’s going to struggle to slow down Oklahoma State and
the league’s better opponents.
Nov. 22 vs. Washington. The Apple Cup is always a big deal for both of
these rivals, but this year it’ll have even more juice as Wulff and his
staff try to establish an identity in Pullman while UW head man Ty
Willingham might need this win to save his job. The Cougars have won
three of the last four and must win to get to a bowl game.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Third down conversions: Opponents 98 of 193 (51%) – Washington State
70 of 198 (39%)
- First quarter scoring: Opponents 124 – Washington State 65
- Average passing yards per game: Washington State 319.7 – Opponents