In 10 years as a coach, Mike Leach has taken his team to a bowl game a perfect 10 times. If Leach wants to continue that streak, here are three players -- one each on offense, defense and special teams -- that Leach will need to see major production from.
QB Jeff Tuel: There's a good chance the Washington State defense is going to surrender over 30 points a game this season. They gave up 31.8 points per game last season, and there's not much reason to think they're going to improve on that by a lot. This means that if the Cougars are going to win games this year, they're going to have to outscore their opponents and the only way they're going to outscore their opponents is if Tuel is running Mike Leach's Air Raid offense to perfection. If Tuel can throw for over 4,000 yards and tack on 30 TD passes to go with that, the Cougars should be in good shape for six wins and a possible bowl berth. Of course, if Connor Halliday wins the starting QB job, then insert his name for Tuel's name in the the above paragraph.
DE/LB Travis Long: Long is a three-year starter at defensive end, but he'll be making the transition to outside linebacker in 2012. The move makes sense too. The Cougars' top four linebackers from last season are gone, and with new defensive coordinator Mike Breske changing the defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4 this year, experience was necessary in the linebacking corps, which Long provides. Long was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection last season as a junior. Long will be the heart and soul of the team's defense, but don't expect to hear much about him this season because at Washington State there's a good chance Leach's offense will get all the media coverage.
K/P/KO Michael Bowlin: Bowlin started his career at Oregon in 2009 and then transferred to Saddleback junior college for two years. Now he's at Washington State trying to win all three kicking jobs -- placekicker, punter and kickoff guy -- and he just might do it. Bowlin has a powerful leg and will most likely be handling kickoff and punting duties come the season opener. However, the placekicking job isn't his yet. Right now, Bowlin is in an intense battle with incumbent Andrew Furney. In a scrimmage on Aug. 11, Bowlin hit 2 of 3 field goals (37, 50, missed 37); Furney only connected on 1 of 3 (47, missed 37, 47). If Bowlin is handling all three kicking jobs this fall, it could create an interesting dynamic, especially if Leach is thrilled with his punter but unhappy with his kicker.