"If I Can Change and Yous Can Change, Everybody Can Change"
"Except For Huddy. He likes riding out gimmicks too much."
Good morning and Happy Hump Day, Cougs! As the great debate rages on about SekopeGate and as Lucas begins his unusual quest to provide content that you, the reader, might actually find helpful with his position previews, I'm here as I am every Wednesday to do.....whatever it is that I do. Looking at the ol' (hypothetical) advent calendar, I see that the Crimson and Gray game is now just seven weeks away. As such, I am required by gimmick to give you a list of seven things (I've gotta say, it was wildly clever to start doing something that requires less and less work the longer I do it). This week, I've come up with seven changes the Cougs must make this season in order to fulfill our bowl attending dreams. The only way you will ever come to know what those seven things are is to click on the jump. So do that.
As we all know by now, one big change was made that should go a long way to improve some of the deficiencies of season's past with that whole Mike Leach thing, but we also know that there were numerous problems that contributed the absurd number of losses the last few seasons. Without further ado, here are seven improvements WSU football must make over the course of Spring and Fall camps to get to the magical six win mark next season. If any steps have already been taken to mitigate those problems, I'll try to address those as well.
1. Protect. The. Quarterback.
Everybody assumes that once the Air Raid takes flight on the Palouse, a magical switch will be flipped that cures all ails in the Cougar passing game. That's all well and good only if the men spearheading the attack are actually able to remain upright and not continue the trend of suffering absurd injuries. Mike Leach's passing attack should in theory take care of some of this in and of itself with the idea being that the quarterback will get the ball out of his hands quickly. What happens if his first read isn't there, though? If the offensive line still stinks, Tuel or Halliday could potentially find themselves more vulnerable since they'll be dropping back to pass something like 600 times a game. Whoever finds their way to the starting offensive line will have to step their games up in a big way. The groundwork starts in a couple week as the line starts learning the fancy new "let's stand really far apart system" while the qb's begin their work of learning how to get the ball out of their hands and into the playmakers' in a hurry.
2. Cover Somebody
I very much like Nolan Washington, Daniel Simmons, Damante Horton, Tracy Clark and Spencer Waseem. Unfortunately the reasons I like them are things like, "He looks cool" or "He was really funny on that Three's Company bit with Gino and Jeff" or "Dreads are neato". I'd much rather like them for reasons like, "He's all-conference" or "Never gets beat deep". I believe the talent is sufficient, but consistency has been non-existent. It'll be interesting to see how Mike Breske decides to use these guys, but one thing we do know is that these are the guys he's rolling with. There is no help coming in the form of a new recruit at the cornerback position in the fall.
3. Let's Not Do That Whole Let The Other Team Start At The 35 Yard Line Every Position Thing Anymore, Mmmk?
The Cougs (and every other college football team) have already gotten a little help in this regard as the NCAA has elected to move kickoffs from the 30 yard line to the 35. Based on past performance, this won't appear to help Andrew Furney in the touchback department since his kicks seemed to generally land somewhere around the 10 yard line. To compound this issue, the kickoff coverage went from out-of-nowhere excellent in 2010 to just-as-out-of-nowhere-right-back-to-completely-pathetic in 2011. Let's assume that the Cougs will spend more time kicking off this year. Opponents cannot be handed a field position advantage on a regular basis. Hopefully Mike Bowlin can kick a football 65 yards off a tee with some frequency.
4. Butts in Seats
This one is on us, Cougar Nation! The direct correlation between a lot of fans at games making a bunch of noise for the home team and said home team winning ball games is debatable, but it can't hurt, right? It seems that Bill Moos has already made big strides in energizing the fanbase, but the proof will be in the pudding when there are more fans dressed in Crimson and Gray on Saturdays than fans disguised as gray bleachers. It starts at Joe Albi. If nothing else, you can have a beer with your favorite WSU Football Blogger...and me too!
5. Don't Poop The Bed
If you watched the Oregon State and Cal games last year, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's hard to say what can be done to make a bunch of 18-21 year old kids not no-show, but hopefully Leachisms like Midnight Maneuvers and the vaunted Sand Pit are productive exercises in increasing mental toughness and not just exercises in making players think the coach is a meany head.
6. Attack on Defense
Too many times during the Paul Wulff era, watching the Cougar defense was like watching a slow painful death. Not that I've ever watched a slow painful death, but it sure seemed like it anyway. If opponents were so inclined, they could often dink and dunk their way down the field with minimal resistance from the dudes in Crimson or Gray or White. If we're gonna go down, I'd rather see us go down swingin'. By all accounts, it sounds like Mike Breske's defense will look to take the fight to offenses more than what we've been accustomed to. We probably won't get the full picture during Spring Ball, but we'll start to get a better idea of what the new defense will look like and perhaps more importantly what a defense with an identity looks like.
7. Stop Smoking Weed
I mean, seriously.