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2010 Washington State Preview - Offense
Washington State WR Jared Karstetter
Washington State WR Jared Karstetter
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 19, 2010


CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Washington State Cougar Offense



Washington State Cougars

Preview 2010 - Offense

- 2010 Washington State Preview | 2010 Washington State Offense
- 2010 Washington State Defense | 2010 Washington State Depth Chart
- Washington State Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

What You Need To Know: There was a time in the past, when Mike Price and Bill Doba were on the sidelines, that Washington State could always count on having a potent offense. Not any longer. The Cougars have been among the nation’s most impotent attacks two years running, ranking 119th nationally in scoring and total offense in 2009. Over the final nine games, they averaged just nine points, one of countless signs of futility. A small ray of hope is coming from second-year QB Jeff Tuel, who showed flashes before getting injured as a rookie. Wazzu desperately needs a capable hurler to run Paul Wulff’s no-huddle attack and take advantage of a decent, Jared Karstetter-led receiving corps. It’d help immensely if the team could avoid injuries, which crippled an already helpless offensive line and robbed the offense of potential workhorse RB James Montgomery. The Cal transfer is still recovering from a nasty leg injury, and is hoping to be available in September.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Marshall Lobbestael
67-144, 655 yds, 3 TDs, 8 INTs
Rushing: James Montgomery
37 carries, 167 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Jared Karstetter
38 catches, 540 yds, 6 TDs

Star of the offense: Junior WR Jared Karstetter
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB Jeff Tuel
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Gino Simone
Best pro prospect: Karstetter
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Karstetter, 2) Senior LG Zack Williams, 3) Junior G B.J. Guerra
Strength of the offense: The wide receivers, potential at quarterback
Weakness of the offense: Turnovers, the ground game, blocking, third down conversion, red zone scoring

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: One of the few bright spots of the 2009 season was that the program got a head start on the Jeff Tuel era in the Palouse. The 6-3, 211-pound sophomore was thrust into an impossible situation, faring better than expected and becoming the first true freshman to start a game at quarterback since Drew Bledsoe two decades earlier. Before suffering a season-ending knee injury, he went 71-of-121 for 789 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions. In the loss to Cal, he shredded a pretty good Bear secondary for 354 yards and two scores, showing the poise, touch on his passes, and mobility that portend a bright future.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Marshall Lobbestael actually took more snaps than any other Cougar last fall, but has had knee problems throughout his career and will have a tough time passing Tuel. Once considered the future at the position, the 6-3, 208-pounder appeared shell-shocked throughout 2009, finishing just 67-of-144 for 655 yards, three touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He’s in danger of spending the balance of his career as a caddy.

Junior Dan Wagner will continue to serve as a jack-of-all-trades, providing emergency relief at both punter and quarterback. The 6-0, 211-pounder has limited experience, but does have a good grasp of the system.

Watch Out For .... the evolution of Tuel. Yeah, it’s not entirely fair for such a young kid, but if this program is going to get off the Pac-10 scrap heap, it’s going to need a quality quarterback leading the charge. Any regression from Tuel makes that mission next to impossible.
Strength: Upside. Tuel was basically operating on instincts a year ago and still delivered some promising results. With a full offseason behind him and most of his receivers back at his disposal, he could have the best trajectory for a Washington State hurler since Jason Gesser last decade.
Weakness: Consistency. Assuming injuries can be avoided, the Cougars should be improved, but this is still a team that finished 114th nationally in passing efficiency and has a second-year player at the helm. Mistakes, from errant throws to poor clock management, won’t be eliminated overnight.
Outlook: At long last, Washington State has a young quarterback to build around and an experienced upperclassman as a backup. No, it’s not an ideal situation for the immediate season, but in Tuel, the program has some hope for the future and the fans have a young player to be excited about.
Rating: 6

Running Backs

Projected Starters: One of the many objectives for the staff in the offseason will be to find a feature back now that Dwight Tardy has graduated. Senior Marcus Richmond is a veteran option, despite the fact that he didn’t handle a carry and mostly played special teams in five games. At 6-1 and 227 pounds, he’s the most physical option among the backs, giving the Cougars a north-south plower, especially in short-yardage situations.

Projected Top Reserves: Setting aside injuries, few doubt that 5-10, 199-pound senior James Montgomery would be the workhorse in this offense. Unfortunately, the former Cal transfer suffered a nasty leg injury that ended his season in September and kept him out of spring. Prior to getting hurt, he’d rushed for 167 yards and a score on 37 carries, showing the potential to become an every-down runner.

For a little change-of-pace, Washington State might turn to 5-8, 201-pound sophomore Carl Winston, who showed glimpses of upside in his debut out of high school. He turned 36 carries into 142 yards and caught eight passes, impressing the staff with his wiggle in the open field and ability to make people miss.

Junior Logwone Mitz has started a game in each of the last two seasons, yet remains a journeyman, who carried just 53 times for 160 yards in 2009. Like Richmond, he has the 6-2 and 232-pound frame to move a pile and carry tacklers for a couple of extra yards after contact.

Watch Out For .... Montgomery’s recovery. If he can get back to full-strength before summer drills begin, the Cougars have a potential go-to guy out of the backfield. Without him, however, the alternatives are not at all impressive, and another season of futility on the ground is a certainty.
Strength: Short-yardage backs. In Richmond and Mitz, Washington State harbors a couple of hulking, 230-pound runners, with the leg drive to push forward for more yards. The key, naturally, will be to have more third-and-short situations so these bruisers can be gainfully employed.
Weakness: Lack of burst. While there are a host of reasons why the Cougars averaged just 2.4 yards a carry in 2009, the reality is that there’s little pop from the backs. Runs of more than 25 were almost non-existent and if Richmond and Mitz are in the mix, big plays are just not going to happen.
Outlook: Even in a no-huddle, shotgun offense, Washington State would like a little more of a threat from the backfield than it’s gotten in recent years. The Cougars averaged a Pac-10 worst 70 yards a game on the ground in 2009, a number that’ll be tough to exceed unless Montgomery quickly returns to 100%.
Rating: 5

Receivers

Projected Starters: The return of last year’s top four pass-catchers gives Jeff Tuel ample targets to throw to this season. The leader of the group at “Z” is 6-4, 206-pound junior Jared Karstetter. An All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection in his first full season as a starter, he caught a team-high 38 passes for 540 yards and six touchdowns. A precise route-runner, with good hands, he’ll use his length to gain advantages vertically and stride past unsuspecting cornerbacks.

Split out on the opposite side at “Z” will be 6-0, 184-pound senior Daniel Blackledge, a steady veteran of three letters. A terrific all-around athlete, who hasn’t always been healthy, he has the speed and leaping ability to build on last season’s career-year. Available for all 12 games for the first time, he started four and caught 23 balls for 213 yards and a touchdown.

In the slot, or “F”, will be 5-11, 179-pound sophomore Gino Simone. While not especially strong and prone to getting pushed around, he possesses the lateral quickness and toughness the staff looks for in inside receivers. An 11-game starter in his debut, he put down a solid foundation, finishing second on the team with 36 receptions for 330 yards and a touchdown.

The Cougars have a few options at tight end, but no obvious starter. First dibs for now belong to 6-5, 257-pound sophomore Skylar Stormo, who lettered and caught three passes for 39 yards in his first year. He’s enjoyed a positive offseason of training, which will help with run blocking and getting position when the ball is in the air.

Projected Top Reserves: Whether or not 6-0, 203-pound senior Jeff Solomon is on the field for the first series, he’s going to play a prominent role in the passing game. As a seven-game starter in his first season of eligibility out of Eastern Washington, he caught 25 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown. He’s got a big catch radius and the hands to be a reliable option, especially on third down.

If 6-5, 242-pound senior Zach Tatman is awarded an additional year of eligibility it’ll ensure that the Cougars will have adequate depth at tight end. A former walk-on and junior college transfer, he caught his first two passes last season, and could push for a starting job now that he’s playing at full-strength.

Watch Out For .... Simone to have an even bigger role this season. More than just playing well under difficult offensive circumstances, he hung tough in just his first season out of Skyline (Wash.) High School. He and Tuel have good chemistry, and are going to grow up together over the next three years.
Strength: Fundamentals. Although Washington State doesn’t have the flashiest wide receivers in the Pac-10, it does have a nice collection seasoned players. All are well-coached on the little things, running tight routes, blocking downfield, and getting their hands to make grabs.
Weakness: Field-stretchers. Sure, Karstetter averaged more than 14 yards a reception, but he was the exception and still not the kind of receiver who’ll get behind a secondary with regularity. When Johnny Forzani got the boot in the offseason, the Cougs lost their one true burner capable of opening up the field for everyone else.
Outlook: Relative to the rest of the team, the wide receivers will be one the Cougars’ strongest positions. Relative to the rest of the Pac-10, the unit is just average. Karstetter, however, stands outside the norm, and could post far better numbers with a little more stability behind center.
Rating: 6

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: The Cougars lose just one starter up front, but it was a big one, all-star and four-year starting C Kenny Alfred. To fill the hole, the staff is banking on 6-2, 304-pound junior Andrew Roxas bouncing back after missing all of 2009 with an extended illness. A versatile and dependable blocker, he appeared in 11 games in 2007 and started eight at left guard in 2008. Once he gets back in game shape, he’ll begin the quest to fill Alfred’s shoes.

At guard, the Cougars have a pair of veterans being touted by the program as potential all-stars. On the left side, 6-4, 304-pound senior Zack Williams is looking to build on a strong first impression after transferring from Glendale (Calif.) College. A starter in seven games before being felled by a high ankle sprain, he gets a good push up front, plays with high energy, and was one of the team’s most consistent blockers of 2009.

On the right side, 6-3, 315-pound junior B.J. Guerra, too, logged seven starts last fall, but missed games with an MCL sprain and a concussion. Constantly honing his pass protection skills, this former defensive tackle has a solid and excellent upper body strength, allowing him to lock on and prevent his man from getting into the backfield.

Left tackle will be home to a heated competition that includes sophomore Tyson Pencer, a letterman and four-game starter in his first season of eligibility. While extremely raw with his technique, he has natural gifts, such as a 6-7, 317-pound frame and the longs arms needed to ward off ends coming off the edge.

At right tackle, 6-4, 285-pound senior Micah Hannam is the most durable member of a line that’s had major issues with injuries in recent years. A fixture up front for three straight seasons, he has started 37 consecutive games, a stark contrast to the rest of his linemates. While not a next-level type blocker, he’ll provide a little peace of mind for the staff.

Projected Top Reserves: Injuries created plenty of chances for opportunistic Cougars last fall. One such player was 6-4, 304-pound junior Steven Ayers, who his parlayed his versatility into seven starts, six at left tackle and one at left guard, before suffering a high ankle sprain of his own. He’ll mostly play guard, but will be ready wherever he’s needed.

At left tackle, Pencer will get a challenge from 6-5, 275-pound sophomore Alex Reitnouer, a surprise letterman in his first season of action. Out of sheer necessity, he appeared in five games and started four, getting a crash course in being a Pac-10 lineman. Clearly overmatched and in need of more weight, he still represents a brick in the future up front.

Watch Out For .... the imports. Little is set in stone as it pertains to the offensive line, so expect plenty of changes and shifting of personnel before the opener. A couple of beneficiaries of the uncertainty will be junior college transfers, Wade Jacobson and David Gonzales. A couple of tackles with good size, they’ll right away if their ready.
Strength: Experience. The Cougar offensive line will be a lot of things in 2010, but green will not be one of them. Because of the injury problems a year ago, there are eight returning letterwinners to go along with the injection of JUCO transfers. Relative to recent years, depth will be less of a problem for Wazzu.
Weakness: Blocking. It might sound elementary, but Washington State does very little well in the trenches, ranking 118th in rushing last season and 119th in sacks allowed. Plus, you don’t get better by losing a trusted veteran, like Alfred, who was the quarterback of this group for four seasons.
Outlook: The Washington State line will again be bad. Just how bad will depend on its ability to remain healthy, something that escaped it throughout 2009. Still, even in a best case scenario, this group is going to be an underlying cause of many of the problems plaguing the rest of the offense.
Rating: 5

- 2010 Washington State Preview | 2010 Washington State Offense
- 2010 Washington State Defense | 2010 Washington State Depth Chart
- Washington State Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006