College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Washington State, who began spring practice on Monday.
Spring practice question: Do the Cougars have enough to get out of the cellar?
Spring is always the time of the year where hope springs eternal; everyone's undefeated, everyone's building for the future. Such is the case on the Palouse, where - for the first time in awhile - there's a bit of hope.
Although Paul Wulff's first three years (5-32 overall) were nothing to write home about, a strong finish at the end of last season and a few underrated recruiting classes have the Cougars' head coach feeling very optimistic.
"We want to start where we left off in the fall," Wulff told reporters after Monday's practice. "I think we came out pretty sharp in a lot of ways, there was some rust but there was more familiarity with the coaches and the system."
A key cog (or Coug, I guess) that is returning is quarterback Jeff Tuel. A two year starter already, he threw for over 2,700 yards and 18 touchdowns last season as a sophomore. Tuel tossed four touchdowns in a ten point loss to Stanford and finished the season on a high note with 3 touchdown passes and nearly 300 yards in the Apple Cup. In case he gets injured (which has been known to happen at Washington State), senior and former starter Marshall Lobbestael is a capable replacement.
Catching Tuel's spirals is one of the more talented receiving groups in the Pac-12. Freshman All-American Marquess Wilson and honorable mention All-Pac-10 wide out Jared Karstetter lead the way. Also in the mix are Gino Simone and Isiah Barton, as well as freshmen Kristoff Williams and Bobby Ratliff. It's no stretch to say that the Cougars have more returning at wide out than many of the teams in the country, let alone the Pac-12.
|Previous Spring Primers|
"Playmaking ability, speed, quickness," Tuel told Cougfan.com about Galvin. "He just makes things happen, really a playmaker."
There are areas of concern that Wazzu hopes to work out before the end of spring. The offensive line only has to replace only one starter but the four returnees were part of a group that gave up 51 sacks last year. Allowing time for Tuel to throw the ball will be a key factor on if the Cougars can exceed their win total from the past three seasons and - dare we say it - consider going to a bowl game in 2011.
Defensively, two starters at defensive end are out for the spring while the defensive tackle spots are wide open thanks to departures and injuries. Four starters return in the secondary which will comfort Wulff, who's main focus will be on straightening out the line.
Bottom line though? The Cougars have some talent and are aiming much higher than just getting out of the conference cellar they've resided in the past the past two seasons. There's still a few areas of concern but things are looking up on the Palouse in 2011. With Jeff Tuel and company leading the way this spring, there's more than just hope though.
There's some talent.