PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State has completed the first week of fall camp preparing for the upcoming 2010 season of Cougar football.
On the heels of just 3 wins in the past two seasons, fan patience with WSU Cougar head coach Paul Wulff is beginning to wear thin.
The view from inside the WSU football program gives reason for both patience and optimism when the Cougars hit the field on September 4th to face Oklahoma State.
Coach Wulff is beginning to get the caliber of student-athlete capable of competing at the Pac-10 level into his program. Getting speed and size on the roster has been the top priority. There were positive signs of progress these critical areas during spring practice.
Fall camp has the priority bumped up a few more notches with the addition of first year players.
If everything went their way, WSU they could become bowl eligible in Coach Wulff’s third season at the helm. Given the fact most of the best athletes on this team are young, it’s not likely all the breaks will go the way of the crimson and gray.
Wulff won’t predict the number of wins, but has focused on getting his players tuned in to playing hard enough to stay close through three quarters and let the chips fall where they may in the fourth.
On defense, Washington State will have size and speed up and down the front line rotation. Senior Kevin Kooyman, junior transfer Brandon Rankin and Travis Long will be the guys to watch. The D-backs may be the most improved position on the team, led by senior Chima Nwachukwu. Daniel Simmons has completely recovered and as the fastest player on the team has been covering receivers like a proverbial blanket. The linebacker unit is talented but unproven. Alex Hoffman-Ellis and Mike Ledgerwood have added size during the off season. Myron Beck has potential to make big plays for the Cougs.
Last year the WSU offense would have struggled to score with the opposition’s defense on the sidelines. Tremendous improvement has been made by the offensive line since last year, but they still have work to do. New OL Coach Steve Morton is one of the best in the business, accelerating the development of JC transfers Wade Jacobson and David Gonzales. At quarterback, sophomore Jeff Tuel played as a true freshman last year and put up impressive numbers before a season ending knee injury put him on the bench. Tuel has put on some weight without giving up his ability to elude would-be tacklers. He has a host of speedy backs to hand the ball to. Senior James Montgomery has recovered from a serious leg injury and ready to play. The talk of fall camp at running back has been freshman Rickey Galvin. Galvin is another one of those explosive backs who hide behind his blockers before hitting the hole. It will be very tough for Wulff to redshirt a kid with his potential. Since fall camp, the speed and ability of Cougar wide outs has been enhanced with the addition of Isiah Barton, Blair Bomber, Bobby Ratliff, Kristoff Williams and Marquess Wilson. As much as Coach Wulff would like to redshirt this group, expect two or three of them to be contributing to the Washington State passing attack this fall.
On special teams, senior punter Reid Forrest is one of the best in the nation. Senior place kicker Nico Graso has a good leg, but needs to improve his consistency. The biggest improvement for special team play is obvious. There are enough good, young players on the roster to upgrade the athleticism necessary for strong special team play.
This will be a better season for Coach Wulff and Washington State fans. The Cougars are probably still a year away from being a solid bowl team. After that, WSU looks very strong if Wulff continues to execute his rebuilding plan.