Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Washington State story lines

All about the offense

It would be quite literally unprecedented if a Washington State quarterback doesn’t post passing numbers among the nation’s best this season.

Not unprecedented for WSU, but for new coach Mike Leach.

In 10 seasons at Texas Tech, Leach’s quarterbacks led the nation in passing attempts and completions nine times.

And they also finished the season among the top five in passing yards in nine different seasons.

It appears senior Jeff Tuel will start for WSU in its opener at BYU tonight, when he will begin his quest to become the next stat-stacking Leach quarterback.

Leach’s expectations for his pass-happy offense are clear. He wants each of his receiver positions – there are four of them – to compile at least 1,000 yards each.

Running backs are expected to account for another 1,400 total yards, and quarterbacks need to complete 65 percent of their passes.

Most agree the Cougars have the kind of personnel to make it happen, with a crop of receivers well-suited to Leach’s schemes and two quarterbacks in Tuel and Connor Halliday who have shown potential in the past.

Inexperience up front

Chester Su’a started four games as a true freshman last season. Nobody else in Washington State’s linebacker corps – save for buck linebacker Travis Long, who spent the last three seasons at defensive end – has started a game in their college career.

There are new, inexperienced faces all across WSU’s defensive front seven. SAM linebacker Eric Oertel and MIKE linebacker Darryl Monroe will be making their first career starts tonight. Long is playing a new position. And the defensive line could feature two first-time starters in Xavier Cooper and Ioane Gauta and four-time starter Adam Coerper.

“They’re still trying to find their ways, but I’ve been really pleased with their effort,” defensive line coach Joe Salave’a said. “They’ve done everything that we’ve asked, and that’s a good start.”

Early schedule manageable

WSU might be a 13.5-point underdog in its season opener at BYU. But it’s not unreasonable to think the Cougars could race to a quick start without winning.

A three-game stretch against EWU, at UNLV and home against Colorado will likely see WSU favored in each game, meaning the Cougars could very well be 3-1 heading into their Sept. 29 game against Oregon.