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Reacting to WSU’s JC signings


COUGARS

We’re sort of housebound this week as we deal with our health, but that doesn’t stop us from reacting to news. In fact, with time to think between treatments, we actually are doing even more reacting. You could even call me reactionary. Read on.

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• The news yesterday the Cougars signed two offensive linemen – added to a slightly premature ESPN.com report Washington State had also signed defensive end Ian Knight, though he may sign today – got me to thinking about WSU’s offensive line for next season. It’s hard not to label the Cougars’ offensive line play the past few years as anything but disappointing. In fact, having yielded, respectively, 53 and 51 sacks the last two seasons and averaged 2.4 and 2.6 yards per carry, it wouldn’t be hard to call the play of the group a liability. But that could all change next year, as the group, with another year under coach Steve Morton, could morph into an offensive strength. How? … When Paul Wulff took over at WSU one of his biggest laments was the lack of athletic, long, tall and strong tackles and a dearth of big bodies inside. Next season WSU may just have the body types he’s been looking for, and have enough of them to actually redshirt a player or two – if everyone stays healthy. … Let’s look at the tackle spot first. WSU loses four-year starter Micah Hannam but returns (all years listed are for next season and weights listed are what I’m hearing the guys weigh now) sophomore John Fullington (6-foot-5, 280 pounds) and senior David Gonzales (6-6, 285). Add in redshirt sophomore Alex Reitnouer (6-4, 285), redshirt freshman Jake Rodgers (6-6, 275, which might be conservative), redshirt junior Dan Spitz (6-6, 285) and the Cougars should have enough depth to possibly allow the two incoming players, JC transfer Rico Forbes (6-4, 260) and freshman Stephan Nembot (6-7, 270) to redshirt if they need it. Every one of the players listed fit Wulff’s matrix of height, agile feet, strength and long arms. … Inside, WSU returns starters senior Wade Jacobson (6-6, 305) and senior B.J. Guerra (6-3, 315) and they’ll be joined by the new JC signee, center Taylor Meighen (6-3, 285), who is expected to challenge for a starting spot right away. The addition of Meighen gives WSU a handful of options to replace starting center Zack Williams, who was recently honored as the Cougars best offensive lineman last season. The contenders include one of last season’s bright spots, walk-on Elliot Bosch (6-4, 265), the sophomore-to-be who Wulff believes will challenge for a starting spot as he matures. Plus, there is the hope junior Tyson Pencer (6-8, 330) and senior Andrew Roxas (6-2, 305) will be able to stay healthy and Tim Hodgdon (6-3, 295) and Sebastian Valenzuela (6-2, 325) will be able to bounce back from a season riddled by concussions. Though there are a lot of question marks here, if a few are answered positively, the depth inside should be strong enough to compete in the Pac-12. … There was a question about WSU’s opener in the Diamond Head Classic. Yes, it is only on ESPNU (all the WSU games will be there unless it gets to the final, which is on ESPN2) and it is scheduled to start at noon PST.

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• That’s all for now. We’ll be back when we can. Until then …


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