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2009 CFN Washington State Preview
Washington State LB Myron Beck
Washington State LB Myron Beck
Posted Jun 21, 2009 2009 Preview - Washington State Cougars

Washington State Cougars

Preview 2009

By Richard Cirminiello

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- 2009 CFN Washington State Preview |
2009 Wazzu Offense
- 2009 Wazzu Defense | 2009 Wazzu Depth Chart
- 2008 Wazzu Preview | 2007 Wazzu Preview | 2006 Wazzu Preview 

Head coach: Paul Wulff
2nd year: 2-11
10th year overall: 55-51
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 24, Def. 14, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best Cougar Players
1. C Kenny Alfred, Sr.
2. RB Dwight Tardy, Sr.
3. LB Andy Mattingly, Sr.
4. SS Xavier Hicks, Sr.
5. RB James Montgomery, Jr.
6. WR Jeshua Anderson, Jr.
7. FS Chima Nwachukwu, Jr.
8. LB Louis Bland, Soph.
9. P Reid Forrest, Jr.
10. CB Brandon Jones, Jr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 Stanford
9/11 Hawaii
9/19 SMU
9/26 at USC
10/3 at Oregon
10/10 Arizona State
10/24 at California
10/31 Notre Dame (in San Ant.)
11/7 at Arizona
11/14 UCLA
11/21 Oregon State
11/28 at Washington

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 2-11

Aug. 30 Oklahoma State L 39-13
(in Seattle)
Sept. 6 California L 66-3
Sept. 13 at Baylor L 45-17
Sept. 20 Portland State W 48-9
Sept. 27 Oregon L 63-14
Oct. 4 at UCLA L 28-3
Oct. 11 at Oregon State L 66-13
Oct. 18 USC L 69-0
Nov. 1 at Stanford L 58-0
Nov. 8 Arizona L 59-28
Nov. 15 at Arizona State L 31-0
Nov. 22 Washington W 16-13 OT
Nov. 29 at Hawaii L 24-10

If Paul Wulff wasn’t a rookie head coach in 2008, he’d probably be unemployed right now.

Washington State wasn’t NCAA for violations while he was at Eastern Washington. Yeah, a new year is a welcome sight for this program.

You can win in Pullman. Mike Price proved that for a number of years. Heck, it was in this decade that Wazzu delivered back-to-back-to-back 10-win seasons, including a Rose Bowl berth in 2002. Hard to imagine, right? In Wulff’s defense, he inherited a tough situation from Bill Doba and a dearth of really good players. Although he’s brought a fresh energy and a new playbook to the Palouse, he’ll have to first raise the talent level before even dreaming about becoming a Pac-10 player again.

Assuming Washington State reached bedrock with last year’s 2-11 disaster, the staff is taking an only-way-is-up approach to the 2009 campaign. While wins will remain hard to come by, the Cougars are hopeful that the return of 14 starters and a better bill of health can be parlayed into more competitive games and possibly an upset along the way. It’ll help immensely if sophomore Marshall Lobbestael can take a few baby steps toward becoming the program’s quarterback of the future.

Washington State defeated Washington in the Apple Cup to avoid the Pac-10 cellar in 2008. Now that the Huskies are in better hands and have more overall talent, the Cougars won’t be so fortunate in 2009.

What to watch for on offense: James Montgomery. Not just any Scout Team Player of the Year, Montgomery was a top recruit of Cal in 2006, who has reps in the Pac-10. While the Cougars already have a capable back in Dwight Tardy, Montgomery has the ability to leap frog him and become a true catalyst of the running game. Although he was No. 2 on the depth chart coming out of spring, that might be a temporary station that changes by the end of summer. The Cougars need dynamic playmakers on this side of the ball, especially now that WR Brandon Gibson has graduated. Montgomery has that type of potential.

What to watch for on defense: The back seven. Hey, if you’re a glass-is-half-full kind of guy, this is where you want to focus your attention. Relatively speaking, Washington State has a decent collection of talent at linebacker and the defensive backfield. It better because the front four has a strict open door policy when it comes to opposing offenses. At linebacker, frenetic Louis Bland is a rising star and senior Andy Mattingly is going to get looks from the NFL. In the secondary, three starters return and the one newcomer, Cal transfer Brandon Jones, has already earned the title of best cover corner. It won’t reverse last season’s defensive futility, but it is a start.

The team will be far better if… it can stay healthy throughout the entire year. While it’s impossible to quantify which program was the most banged up in 2008, Washington State surely had to be in the discussion. The Cougars were riddled from start to finish and on both sides of the ball, draining an already thin roster. Now, they still may have only won a pair of games, but with a full complement of bodies, they certainly would have been more competitive, especially down the stretch.

The Schedule:
The Cougars can turn the corner in a big hurry and put last year in the past with a win in the opener, and Pac 10 opener, against Stanford. Hawaii isn't the same team away from home and SMU is very beatable giving Wazzu a shot, if everything goes well, for a 3-0 start. And then the hammer drops with two straight road games against USC and Oregon, and three in the next four with a trip to Cal being the other. Counting a neutral site game against Notre Dame in San Antonio, the Cougars will be home just once from September 19th to November 14th ... roughly two months. UCLA and Oregon State are November home games, but the regular season ends with an Apple Cup date at Washington.

Best offensive player: Senior C Kenny Alfred. The best kept secret at Washington State, Alfred has been the rare sure-thing along the offensive line. A technically flawless fourth-year starter, he overcomes a modest 6-2, 300-pound frame by out working and out smarting opposing defensive linemen. While his play gets lost in the mess that the Cougars have become, those close to the school recognize him as the most consistent and reliable all-around player.    

Best defensive player: Senior LB Andy Mattingly. Who shows up, the 2007 edition of Mattingly or the 2008 version? Well, he’s moving from defensive end back to linebacker, where he flourished as a sophomore, so there’s reason to believe he’s ready to put together a strong finale in Pullman. Two years ago, he was a revelation, exploding for 91 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and eight sacks, despite starting just six games. At 6-4 and 255 pounds, he has the size and natural rushing skills to be a real menace at strongside.                               

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Marshall Lobbestael. Washington State is in dire need of an identity, a face of the program. In the past that was always provided by a quarterback, like Timm Rosenbach, Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf, or Jason Gesser. Lobbestael needs to gradually become that guy, who becomes a rallying point for the rest of the program. The Cougars are certainly nowhere near being ready to win with defense, and the other main quarterback, senior Kevin Lopina, imploded when he got his chance in 2008.

The season will be a success if ... the Cougars are far more competitive than last season. It’s not about a number at this stage since the program is probably staring down the barrel of another two or three-win season. Wazzu needs to start playing like a legitimate Pac-10 team for progress to be happening. That means no more 66-13 losses to Oregon State or 58-0 spankings at the hands of Stanford. If the Cougs are in a few more games after halftime than a year ago, the ship might actually be turning in the right direction.

Key game: Nov. 28 vs. Washington. The Apple Cup is always the biggest game on the schedule, but even more so when a bowl game is a distant longshot. It’s also a chance to carry some much-needed momentum into the following season. A win over the hated Huskies would make it three straight in the rivalry for the first time in school history.

2008 Fun Stats:
- Sacks: Opponents 43 for 334 yards - Washington State 16 for 104 yards
- Fumbles: Washington State 38, lost 17 - Opponents 17, lost 3
- Points: Opponent 570 - Washington State 165

- 2009 CFN Washington State Preview |
2009 Wazzu Offense
- 2009 Wazzu Defense | 2009 Wazzu Depth Chart
- 2008 Wazzu Preview | 2007 Wazzu Preview | 2006 Wazzu Preview