Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It's Time

Welcome to a new era of WSU Football! Paul Wulff's lads hit it hard today, with morning and afternoon sessions, and the official "flipping of the program" begins. We'll stay on top of things for the first stages of the new era, as things will get pretty interesting beginning today. As Wulff talked about at media day, the days of two-a-day practices are gone, but the WSU coaches will be doing double-shifts early to get the new system in place. The morning practice will be for the top of the depth chart, then the rest will practice in the afternoon. As Wulff has said repeatedly, everything is new and the more reps every player on the roster can get, the better. August 30th is going to be here before you know it, so every productive minute in practice, the better!

The fall release is here, including updated depth charts for fall camp. Not some huge surprises, but there are a few worthy of attention:
  • Jeshua Anderson is listed as a starter. OK, not that big of a surprise, but given his off-season track commitments, you have to wonder if he'll be behind early on. As a true sophomore with just 12 catches last year, Anderson is still ahead of senior Benny Ward.
  • Daniel Blackledge, another true sophomore, is also a starter at flanker. Blackledge had a grand total of 24 yards last year. Here is where you see some depth issues, as Michael Willis is the backup, and Keith Rosenberg 3rd string. Neither guy played a snap last year.
  • As our own Hooty reported here, the offensive line looks not only stacked for today, but for tomorrow as well. Just two starters are seniors, yet there is a lot of experience back in guys like Kenny Alfred and Andrew Roxas. Just looking at the o-line depth chart, you can see why people are excited about how we will look up front for the next several years.
  • Tardy is the starter at running back, ahead of Chris Ivory as the primary backup. You know those two will share the load, so being listed as the starter might not really mean a whole lot. Still, Tardy is just what, 10 months removed from a serious knee injury, so we'll see how things look now that practice is finally here. No mention of JC transfer Chance Staden on the depth chart. Staden was highly regarded coming in last year, but while he is on the official roster, he's not on the depth chart among the running backs.
  • There are co-starters listed at kicker, with Wade Penner OR Nico Grasu, the JC transfer with serious leg strength and especially good on kickoffs. That will be a battle to watch and I bet we don't know who wins the job until the last week of camp.
  • On defense, an area of concern we touched on last week are the d-tackles. A'i Ahmu and Matt Eichelberger are the starters. Toby Turpin is one backup, but Andy Roof is listed as the other.
  • Nowhere to be found on the depth chart for the defensive line? JC tackles Bernard Wolfgramm and Josh Luapo. Merely an oversight, or something more?? Wolfgramm and Luapo are both on the official roster, but surprisingly are not on the depth chart. Some publications have projected Wolfgramm as not only a regular, but even possibly a starter by the opener. We'll see how that goes.
  • The secondary looks about how we thought it would. The position changes are official between Chima Nwachukwu and Alfonso Jackson. Chima is now the starter at strong safety, Jackson the starter at the right corner spot. Xavier Hicks is listed as the starter at free safety, which we know will be a problem for the first few games of the year due to suspension. JC transfer Easton Johnson is listed as his backup and will likely elevate to starter by the opener.
  • Redshirt frosh Tyrone Justin and sophomore Daniel Blackledge are listed as punt-returners. I know there was at least some thought that maybe Gibson would get a look back there, but given his likely heavy workload this year, it probably isn't a good idea after all. However, Gibson and Chris Ivory are listed as kickoff returners. Interesting.

So there you have it, the beginning of a new era. It's going to be a fun ride, and I can't wait to see how things shake out this month. How will Rogers look running the new offense? Will Kevin Lopina push him, as has been hinted by Wulff that Rogers is the starter but Lopina could play? Will the young wideouts opposite Gibson be ready for prime time? Can they help carry the load and pick up the slack after losing Michael Bumpus, Jed Collins and Charles Dillon? How will the new faces on defense factor in? Will the JC guys be ready to help immediately? How will Mattingly take to the new position at defensive end? The buzz is that he could just explode out on the edge, but will he take to the new spot right away or will it take a month of game action to figure it out? How will the secondary do with the position changes, plus the suspension of Hicks? Stay tuned!


patrick said...

It's supposed to be a HOT week out there in Pullman. We know they're hungry, let's hope they stay hydrated.

A Cougar win over Oklahoma State is all I'm asking for for my 30th. The wife isn't too sure how to give that one too me.

longball said...

I may be able to stop by the afternoon practice today and see if any of these mystery guys are in action. I wonder if some of these guys arent on the depth chart for the simple reason that they have never even attended an official practice, so guys already in the program are just ahead of them by default until they "earn" it. As far as RB goes, could we be flirting with a red shirt for Staden? With Tardy, Ivory, Richmond and Mitz on the roster we are fairly stacked at RB and may want to preserve some of the talent for the years ahead. I also think our perceived lack of depth at receiver is misleading. As Hooty will acknowledge from watching the Spring game, Willis is more than ready and its not like he hasnt been on the field before. If he isnt even starting then all I can say is YIKES, our receiver corps might be scary good.

Sedihawk said...

Hope it is a happy b-day for you Patric. A W would sure be a nice way to celebrate.

Longball, you are right again. The new faces who haven't been with the team in any way (rookies) are not there. Makes sense. Hey, if you do drop by, snap some photos. Even do a write-up if you want, we would gladly post it for you.

ptowncoug said...

Where art thou? I have been leaving VMs on your cell, but haven't heard anything. If you make it to practice, let us know the Rogers to Anderson connection. I am interested if Anderson is a step behind (not a step slow) because of all the missed time working with his QB.

Brinkhater said...

Willis is on the second unit to give him more reps as a primary threat.

He will be starting come opening day--or at least getting the most reps during games..