StartersMcGuire accurately points out that the Cougars are still working with many of the same core linemen who saw action last season, albeit with a few changes. Bosch will start at center for the second consecutive season, three-year starter John Fullington appears to have settled in at right guard, and Eklund returns at left tackle after starting nine games there last year. The new additions to the current No. 1 group are walk-on sophomore left guard Joe Dahl and senior right tackle Rico Forbes, both of whom have held their respective positions since the beginning of spring. Forbes was primed to start at tackle last season before a knee injury ended his season in August. Dahl redshirted last year after transferring from Montana, but impressed coaches with his performance on the scout team all season. The biggest, tangible difference between this year and last year: size. Fullington, Forbes and Eklund are each listed at 300 pounds or more, with Dahl right behind at 290 and Bosch at 280. In terms of size and experience, McGuire said, “we were basically playing a bunch of freshmen out there.” McGuire said the 57 sacks the Cougars allowed last season was “extremely, extremely too high for anybody” and that he would like to see that total cut at least in half. “When we had one sack last year it would spiral down,” Eklund said. “We’d have one sack, then two sacks, or a series of sacks and it would be third and long and a tough down to complete. You’re going to have bad plays. Something’s going to happen, but when it does happen, we’re trying to move on to the next play.”
In the mixOf the second-team offensive line that took the field for WSU’s scrimmage on Friday, only senior guard Matt Goetz has extensive in-game experience. Junior-college transfer Devonte McClain has taken many reps at left tackle with the No. 2 group, and fifth-year senior Zach Brevick is pretty firmly entrenched as the backup center. Redshirt freshman Eduardo Middleton has played all camp as the backup right guard. Jacob Seydel, another junior-college transfer, spent the spring and all of camp with the No. 2 offense at right tackle before suffering a right foot/ankle injury during Thursday’s practice.
Keep an eye onTrue freshmen Riley Sorenson and Cole Madison have seen time with the No. 2 offensive line during camp. Sorenson has spelled McClain at left tackle from time to time, while Madison stepped in for Seydel at right tackle.
Reason for optimismAs McGuire said, everyone who played last season is bigger and appears stronger. The offense should come more naturally, too. And there are enough available bodies this season to sustain an injury or two.
Cause for concernBeyond the apparent starting five, there is a precipitous drop in experience. The Cougars like their freshmen and second-year linemen, but if they’re forced to play, they might experience the same kind of growing pains that slowed the line last season.
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