Hello Followers. Hope you’ve had a great week.
Today, as work threatens my role as "Supreme Leader" of Procrastination Nation, I offer a first look at the “X” factors for this upcoming season.
So, if you want to check out who I think represents the hidden key to a successful season on offense, then click on the Jumpenstein…
Followers, before we get to the meat of today’s post, I thought I’d feed you with a few quick morning links.
First, we have the story on the Cougs first road win in Pac-12 play against Oregon State last night in Corvallis. Don’t know about you all, but the Pac-12 right now appears to lead the country in coaches who “lead you to the water, but won’t let you drink.”
Clearly, our own Ken Bone is a key member of that committee of coaches, but he is not alone. Dawkins’ Stanford team has taken a once promising season into yet another February swoon (Dawkins’ February winning percentage is .300 and the Cards have lost 6 of 7 since dating back to their loss to WSU).
And, Craig Robinson is looking more like he won’t make it to April as the leader of Beaver nation.
While Robinson’s teams have shown moments of great offense to go along with a meddling—if not stifling—defense, he also holds the dishonor of leading the Beavs to crushing 50 point losses to Seattle University, University of Texas Corpus Christi, and this year, getting swept by us. Not good.
So, as we all lament the fortunes of this year’s WSU Hoops team, at least we know that our own underachieving coach is out achieving the other underachievers in the Pac-12 conference.
(Also, if check out the story on the victory of the New Sonics over the Old Sonics,)
Now, back to Football.
Followers, according to our Site meter, there were about 14 of you a few weeks back who read my declaration that Jeff Tuel should be considered as a leading Heisman Trophy candidate out of the Pac-12 next year. And because I think that Tuel will both be a starter and a star in 2012, he is excluded from consideration as an X factor for 2012.
And because Marquess Wilson figures to achieve national stardom as well next year, he too doesn’t quite fit the mold of “X” status.
Moreover, while the Offensive Line includes several players that could represent “unsung” heroes for next year, I also decided to exclude them from consideration simply because I consider the line to be the “engine” of the Offense, and an engine doesn’t really seem to be an “X factor.”
So, to make a short story really long, in trying to find my X factor for this next year, I immediately went our Wide Receivers. And man, what a great group to choose from!
I first considered Bobby Ratliff as the second option that could really step forward this year—much in the way that Isaiah Barton channeled moments of potential in 2010 into a really fantastic 2011 campaign. In fact, had Barton stayed healthy, there’s part of me that thinks we might have scraped out those last two games and gained bowl eligibility. I think Bobby R will have a huge year in 2012!
I also considered Kristoff Williams, who as we all know, was considered to be the equal—if not superior—to Marquess Wilson during fall camp of 2010.
While K. Williams did not have the break out year that some of us expected last year, he showed himself to have some skills to match that pro-style body of his. He could be really big for us this year.
Similarly, we all heard from Ball and Sturdy last year that Dominique Williams has a special quality and talent to him. Ramhel Dockery has break-out speed and moves that could make him a factor both on O and on Special Teams. And, we have a few recruits that figure to be key playmakers at some point in the season.
But alas, while yours truly anointed Klay Thompson as an X factor for the 2009 hoops team, I generally do not elevate freshman to such high status.
Which brings me to our running backs.
Followers, those of you who endured these pages during last year’s football campaign know that this Sutra absolutely adores Carl Winston.
From the first half of the Colorado game in particular, I thought that Winston brought a physicality and attitude to our running game that I thought was contagious. It really seemed that even if Carl only gained 2 or 3 yards on a carry, his attitude seemed to elevate the play of the offensive line for a play or four afterward.
And nowhere was his physical play more manifest than in our game against Oregon in Eugene where Carl just seemed to punish Oregon’s linebackers and secondary every time we got the ball. In fact, it was because of Carl’s physicality and emotion, that for a short while, I actually thought we were going to win that game (when the score was 28-0).
That said, while Carl’s play had me at the edge of my seat during the Oregon game, it was the play of another Running Back that caught my attention at the end of that game. Don’t know if you all remember, but Ricky Galvin had a 9 yard Touchdown run at the end of that game that was just bruising. And as I watched Ricky cross the goal line, I thought to myself, “This kid just added a dimension of physicality to go with his scat back status.”
And for the rest of the year, Galvin seemed to improve his skills with the rock, including his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. What’s more, Galvin improved significantly with his pass blocking, which figures to improve his standing with the new coaching staff.
Ultimately, Ricky gained a little over 600 yards rushing last year to go along with 28 catches which totaled about 250 yards. Not bad when you consider all of the factors that were working against the offense and its running attack this past season.
Now, fast forward to this year.
Although Ricky figures to be challenged by Winston, Theron, Mason, et al., Galvin feels ideally suited for Mike Leach’s style.
After all, Galvin is simply ELECTRIC in space, and he figures to have plenty of space to work with both as a Running Back—with the wide spreads of the O-Line--as well as a receiver out of the backfield (Keep in mind that Mastro has had 1,000 yard rushers for his past 5 years as coach).
What’s more, Ricky’s toughness as a blocker and as a runner should enable him to gain the amount of playing time he needs to gain the type of rhythm needed to put up some nice numbers during the year. And, the hiring of Pistol guru Jim Mastro seems to reinforce the idea that the RB position figures to become a prominent factor in the WSU version of the Air Raid offense.
In sum, while Jeff Tuel figures to serve as WSU’s version of RGIII
this year, at the running back position, we figure to do one or two greater.
So, if you all are looking for the 2012 X-Factor for your Washington State Cougars, I give you the following man:
All for now. Go Cougs!
(You can follow the Coug-A-Sutra on Twitter)
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I know I need to get over this, but it baffles me that everyone is so excited about the future of this program, gasping over the quality of players that Wulff recruited. Yet, when Wulff was HC, he was a terrible recruiter, only getting "big sky" talent? WTF.
@Soze For the record... I've been tooting Wulff's horn, in regards to recruiting, from day one until Nov 28. I think the fact that he was able to put a competent class together in 2011, given the losses and uncertainty of the future, is monumental. Was it a good class? No, in fact it was undoubtedly the worst in the Pac-12. But given the situation, that was to be expected. It was full, and it addressed urgent needs on the team.
@Soze I would say those who still bash PW's recruiting obviously do not see the players now on the field. I did not criticize the rocks he looked under and those who did, do not understand the Wazzu way. My criticism was that his plan of a heavy emphasis on recruiting high school guys that were not 4- or 5-star in his 1st 2 years set him up for failure because the time his guys matured people would be fed up with the on field product.
If you recruit HS Sr's that are ready for immediate PT, that is one thing but we don't get that at Wazzu and likely never will.
I appreciate PW what he did in carrying us through this difficult time. Maybe we will have the same results that EWU attained after he left.
Nothing to add... other than that the future is so bright, I need sunglasses. Might have to roadtrip to Spokanistan in April to get a look. I think Leach walking the sidelines in Cougar gear will be too surreal to handle.
Question: Did we not work the ball into Motum as much this game, or did the Ducks take away the option during much of the 2nd half?
You know, I think the problem was Singler didn't break his leg/foot/shooting hand. If he had, I really think we would have won.
OK. I could be wrong. Now we're up 3. But I still don't feel good about it. I don't like this pace for us. The first half was much better. We're going to have to shoot well the rest of the game.
We can still win, but our defense needs to ratchet up. I do think that we have begun to rebound a little better these last few games.
Critiquing things based on what you hear on the radio is...well hard. I'm not so sure how dominating I'm gonna be today.
Just finished watching an exciting SDSU vs. UNLV basketball game. My conclusion: Xavier Thames is a turnover machine and not a very good point guard. He is too slow for the position. He got pick-pocketed multiple times driving to the hole and on the final play of the game. SDSU down 2 after a UNLV miss. X tries to drive down the court with less than 10 seconds. He's harassed the whole way by one defender. Has to keep changing directions and turn his back. He has no breakaway speed. Finally, the last spin about 10 feet over half-court he gets the ball poked away and stolen. Game over. UNLV wins it.
X Thames is TOO SLOW to be a point guard. Reggie is too short and thinks too much of his own abilities to score. But, based on one single game that I've viewed of Thames (I know, a wide body of evidence) Reggie is the better point guard.
I think Galvin will thrive under Leach, especially as a receiver out of the backfield, though I doubt he's going to reach 1,000 yards.
The other guy I'm interested in seeing in 2012 is Henry Eaddy. I wouldn't be surprised if Leach uses him as his tailback during passing downs (I don't know how much time he'd get as a slot receiver, as we have so much depth there already).
And I think that Kristoff is going to have a great year, now that he's had a year of playing at the college level.
This year is going to be SO much fun.
Forgot to mention that I think that RG5's SOPHOMORE status is going to help him gain the starting nod. (I offer the CAPS because I keep thinking he's going to be a junior)
When you factor in that Ratliff, K. Williams, and RG5 are only sophs, well, the future is so bright. Imagine those dudes after 3 years in Leach's system...
Then add either of the QB's we'll have for the next few years and heaven help the other guys. God I love Crimson glasses. (lol)
@Ambush184 Yep, love that them there glasses. The youth factor is one reason why Halliday is going to be given such a close look this spring. But I think that Tuel is so far ahead mentally that it won't be close....Otherwise, we'd be looking at an offense that would be both explosive and SCARY young. Should be fun--at least on that side of the ball.
@Evercoug@Sutra@Ambush184 We will go long every now and then (four Verts Baby!) but a majority is mid range to get the ball into a player in space. Look at how Welker is used by the Pats with the drag routes. In the end it is what the match ups give us when the QB makes his read at the line. Which reminds me something I forgot to include in my wrap up of the Kennewick event. Leach said he has never seen a High School QB do as much checking at the line a Appacoda!
@Stiffmiester@Ambush184 The waivers take time. To be honest, I don't think Tuel has any shot--I think its the coaches giving it the old college try to support a QB that got hit with a nasty set of breaks (no freshman RS, then injury halfway through, then lost junior year).
P-Town gave us a pretty exhaustive explanation about what it takes to get the medical RS and Tuel's participation in the second half of the season totally sinks that ship....Unless they change the rules..
@Ambush184@Stiffmiester@Sutra I think Halliday is pretty well along "mentally", actually, despite his youth he is a headier player than he gets credit for. However, I would like to see him get some time to develop physically before we feed him to the wolves again. Lacerated livers can happen when you play football with a figure skater's frame.
Youth is definitly a good thing. I agree Tuel is miles ahead mentally...but what an arm Halliday has. I can see any of the receivers nearly begging him to back off on how far he throws the ball. Not really, but you get the point here, the guy can throw the ball nearly the length of the field. Give him some quality time this season and watch out. Just a bit of seasoning and maturity and we're back as QB U.
Love it! We can't pass every down so where do we turn...RG-5 is a really good option. I see him as a faster and somewhat shifter Dan Dornik. Good blocking skills, good instinct with the ball, soft hands and YAC abililty.
Thk goodness for a win against the Beavs. Besides Cunningham, they are really a mediocre team in a mediocre league.
I just wish I could figure out what is going on in Reggie's head. This guy is all over the map and for a jr. lacks a ton of killer instinct/competitiveness. I want my PGs to cry after losses and wag their finger after wins.
@ptowncoug3012 Seriously, i really thought one thing we'd never worry about with Reggie when he was a frosh, was whether he'd bring swagger. What the heck happened? He has more talent for getting to the rack than just about any point guard we've had since Keith Morrison. USE IT REGGIE!
@Longball Wow, Keith Morrison in the house. Mad props on the Coug history. My grandpa just shed a tear and asked if he could adopt you!
@ptowncoug3012 I agree. Its important for this group to win as many games as possible in order to have a positive carry over to next year. And, you're right, I want Moore to show something, especially after watching the SWAG brought by Xavier Thames the other night. X is still erratic scoring wise, but he can sure D it up, and that cross-over is now KILLER. He would have been such a great Coug.
@YakiCoug I thought the same thing when I saw the pictures..