No matter what else Washington State does this season, the Cougars should be able to run the ball well, especially behind right tackle, and put three points on the board whenever they’re remotely in field goal range.
Media members in the Pac-12 Conference believe they will, at least.
A poll of writers and reporters from around the conference voted junior running back Max Borghi, junior right tackle Abraham Lucas and redshirt junior kicker Blake Mazza to the Preseason All-Pac-12 First Team. Borghi was also included as a first team all-purpose selection.
The Cougars had a handful of other preseason all-conference selections. Redshirt senior linebacker Jahad Woods was the only WSU player named to the second team, on defense, while right guard Josh Watson, punter Oscar Draguicevich III and kick/punt returner Travell Harris were all named honorable mention.
The Cougars had the third-most first-team selections with three, below just USC (six) and Oregon (four).
While Borghi was voted as an all-purpose player, the Arvada, Colorado, native isn’t expected to catch as many passes in Nick Rolovich’s run-and-shoot offense and should be used as more of a traditional running back.
Despite just 127 carries, Borghi managed to rush for 817 yards and ranked second in the conference in yards per carry at 6.4. The 2020 Doak Walker Award watch list selection also scored 11 touchdowns on the ground as a sophomore.
With his preseason All-Pac-12 selection, Lucas is in the running to be the conference’s best offensive tackle this season, especially after Oregon’s Penei Sewell opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. The Everett native hasn’t missed a start in two seasons and was once again named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy given to the country’s top offensive lineman.
Mazza, the Cougars’ third-year placekicker, was considered one of the top three players in the country at his position in 2019, becoming a finalist for the prestigious Lou Groza Award. The Texan won postseason All-Pac-12 First Team honors after going 20-of-21 on field goals, the highest percentage in school history, and making his first 18 of the season.
The Pac-12’s other preseason first team offensive selections: QB Kedon Slovis (USC), RB CJ Verdell (Oregon), WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC), WR Tyler Vaughns (USC), TE Brant Kuithe (Utah), OL Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC), OL Drew Dalman (Stanford), OL Jaxson Kirkland (UW) and OL Nick Ford (Utah).
The full list of first team defensive selections: DL Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon), DL Mustafa Johnson (Colorado), DL Jordon Scott (Oregon), DL Jermayne Lole (ASU), LB Hamilcar Rashed Jr. (OSU), LB Nate Landman (Colorado), LB Drake Jackson (USC), DB Elijah Molden (UW), DB Camryn Bynum (Cal), DB Talanoa Hufanga (USC) and DB Deommodore Lenoir (Oregon).
Aside from Borghi and Mazza, the other Preseason All-Pac-12 First Team specialist is Arizona State punter Michael Turk.