Sunday, June 12, 2011

Washington State Cougars 2010 Review

Washington State Cougars
2010 Record: 2-10 (1-8), 10th Pac-10
2010 Bowl Game: None

     If you listened to me when I made a guest appearance a couple of weeks ago with the GlobalCFFL Live show, you will not be surprised when I say that WSU was actually a little bit better than their record would reflect. Sure, they had terrible games, and they collapsed at times, but there were signs of life. It all started at QB.
     Jeff Tuel may be one of the more rapidly developing QBs in America coming into next fall, and he showed flashes of serious improvement and leadership last fall. Tuel passed for 2780 yards, and he connected for 18 TDs with 12 picks last fall. He averaged 231 yards per game, while attempting just over 30 passes per game. He needs to improve on his completion %, as he completed 59.8% of his passes as a sophomore last season.
     What the Cougars severely lacked last fall was any kind of run support to take pressure off of the passing game. The run game was led by James Montgomery, who rushed for 478 yards and 5 scores on the season. That was only good for 43.45 yards per game for Montgomery, but he was by far the leader. This is a major problem area.
      Tuel was given a very nice gift this season in the form of freshman Marquess Wilson, who finshed the season by posting a line of 55-1006-6. Wilson has stepped up as an instant impact type, and he became a real game changer for the Cougar offense. Jared Karstetter and Daniel Blackledge were the only other WSU receivers to grab 20 or more passes, which is another problem area for the Cougars. Karstetter was a solid complimentary receiver for Wilson, as he posted 62-658-7, and Blackledge finished out with a line of 30-456-3. The Cougars, with some added depth to this group, could break out to another level next fall.
     WSU may have some players developing on offense, but the defense was a complete disaster last fall. The Cougars gave up 467 yards per game on the season. They gave up 246.8 yards per game passing, while they gave up another 220.3 yards rushing per game.
     The Cougars were not graced with very many top tier tacklers, as the team was led by Deone Bucannon (83 tackles) and he was followed by Alex Hoffman-Ellis (81). Next came Tyree Toomer (68) and CJ Mizell (56). The good news is that all of these guys return next fall, and Bucannon and Mizell were both freshmen.
     Travis Long was the only real threat up front when it came to making plays behind the line. Long totalled 10.5 TFLs last fall, and was by far the only player that got near double figures. WSU collected 70 TFLs on the season, but gave up 108. The Cougars just had nothing when it came to pressuring QBs, as Long also led with only 4. The Cougars only registered 22 sacks in 12 games, and they gave up 51.
     Bucannon, who is becoming a young leader on this defense, was the only Cougar to register 5 passes defended last fall, and he had exactly that many, and the Cougars only collected 35 passes defended last fall, in contrast to the 48 that they gave up. The Cougars also only picked off 11 passes in 12 games, and nobody had more than 2.
     Andrew Furney, who only hit on 3 of 5 FG attempts, is the likely K by default this season. The kicking game was almost non-existent last fall, so they will need to get Furney in range, which will be the challenge. Reid Forrest was incredible at punter last fall, as he averaged 45.42 yards per punt last fall, and he averaged 5.5 punts per game last season. Unfortunately, Forrest moved on after last fall, so there is a huge void to fill there. Isiah Barton was strong on kick returns, but not spectacular. He averaged 22.14 yards per return, and 51.7 yards per game. The punt return game was pretty much a non issue.
Final Notes
     The Cougars are at a crossroads, as is head coach Paul Wulff, who has never won more than 2 games in a season since joining the Cougars from Eastern Washington. Wulff walked into a mess when he took over, and it has never gotten any better. He has an ultimatum this fall, and that is win 6 games or else. He has the tools on offense and a schedule to match, but that has not mattered before. It's all on Tuel, and he as the ability to put the Cougars on his shoulders and lead the way. We'll see if he does.

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