The Cougars came into the offseason with a number of question marks after their New Mexico Bowl loss. Who would take over for departing All-American Deone Bucannon? How will the Cougars compensate for the loss of three starters on the offensive line?
Fifteen spring practices later and many of those questions have been answered. Follow the jump to find out what we learned this spring:
1. Cole Madison is your starting right tackle – WSU's offensive line saw noticeable improvement toward the end of last season, most notably allowing zero sacks against Utah's fearsome defensive front. Some of that improvement can be attributed to the decision to move John Fullington to right tackle after five games to replace Rico Forbes, who was struggling to contain Pac-12 defensive ends. Fullington was very versatile, starting at all five offensive line positions during his time at WSU, and appeared to better handle the rigors of playing tackle.
Fullington used up his eligibility, however, meaning the right tackle position was open once again. Redshirt freshman Cole Madison appeared to lock up the position this spring, however, and his play could determine if the right side of the line can match the left, which has returning starters Joe Dahl and Gunnar Eklund.
For one thing, Madison does not look like a player who has yet to finish his first year of college. His work in the weight room this season drew raves from strength coaches and he currently stands at a solid 6-foot-5, 294 pounds. He appears to have the athleticism to slide over to left tackle someday and was one of the more stable parts of the offensive line this spring.
2. Isaac Dotson looks like Bucannon's strong safety replacement – Isaac Dotson came to WSU as a quarterback but the coaches liked his potential on defense enough that he did not even redshirt after promptly switching to safety. Dotson physically looks ready at 6-foot-1, 206 pounds and appears able to use his knowledge of the passing game from his time on offense to give him an edge in coverage.
However, Dotson was limited the second half of camp. While he won't come in and immediately replace Deone Bucannon, a First Team All-American who led the Cougars in both tackles and interceptions, he should be a solid option for the Cougars if he is healthy.
3. The Cougars will be fine at kicker – Perhaps no spot entered the spring with a bigger questions mark than kicker. Songs of Andrew Furney's exploits will be sung at WSU long after we're gone and deservedly so. In his 40 career starts Furney was twice named All-Pac-12, twice named to the Lou Groza Award Watch List and once a semifinalist. His 60-yard field goal as a junior was the second-longest in Pac-12 history. He went 47 for 61 on field goals, for a .770 hit percentage that is the second-highest in school history. As a sophomore he set the school single season record field goal percentage record by hitting 14 of 16 (.875).
So yeah, he will be tough to replace.
But in freshman Erik Powell the Cougars may have found someone who can reasonably fill Furney's big cleats. The Vancouver, Washington native was mostly consistent in the spring, and showed a big leg, hitting routinely from 40-45 yards with a long of 49.