2012 Washington State Cougars Football Preview
2011 Record: 4-8 (2-7 PAC-12)
Head Coach: Mike Leach, first season (84-43 overall)
Projected Returning Starters: 15
Spring Game: April 21st (Offense 28 Defense 27)
Notes: Coach Leach is somewhat of an exception. He’s one of seven coaches to be a current college football coach, at the FBS level, but did not play college football (Charlie Weis, Paul Johnson, David Cutcliffe, George O’Leary, Bobby Hauck, and Chip Kelly are the others). He also steps away from football in the off-season, spending time researching and reading up on many topics, including pirates, which many associate with the head man in Pullman. His desire to learn and take on new challenges, which might explain his law degree from Pepperdine, might explain why Leach left a radio job to take over at Washington State.
BVTSB Take: It took a year, and the right opportunity, but the fan-favorite Mike Leach landed on his feet in the Pacific Northwest. Admittedly, I questioned the decision of Washington State to fire Paul Wulff. Yes, his record was awful, 9-40, but the team was rapidly improving, especially defensively. But Wazzou had a plan, hiring Leach just one day after relieving Wulff of his duties. The Cougs return quarterback Jeff Tuel, who missed much of last season with injuries. Connor Halliday, who filled in for parts of last season, will also be back at quarterback, although he is projected to back up Tuel. Leading rushers Rickey Galvin and Carl Winston also return – the duo combined for over 1000 yards rushing and nine rushing touchdowns in 2011. Be wary of the rushing numbers put up last season – the passing numbers largely exceeded the rushing because Washington State was often playing catch-up against opponents. Expect Washington State’s passing numbers to exceed the rushing numbers under Leach, more so based on his style of offense. The all-important Marquess Wilson returns in 2012. Leach criticized Wilson’s work ethic, leading to a great spring game by Wilson (four catches, 149 yards, and two touchdowns). Wilson accounted for nearly 36% of Washington State’s receiving years in 2011, easily exceeding the 1000-yard plateau. He also hauled in 12 touchdowns. To expect immediate results under Leach in 2012 would be foolish – Washington State fans must temper their expectations. The Cougs open with BYU, Eastern Washington, and UNLV, with the two FBS schools being on the road. There is no reason Wazzou can’t go 2-1 in those games. They do have some favorable home games in the PAC-12 as well, playing host to Colorado, UCLA, and Washington. Oregon State, Utah, and Arizona State could be possibilities to steal one on the road. To expect Washington State to make a bowl game is probably unrealistic, and to expect the program to win PAC-12 titles is, as well. But what you are getting with Coach Leach is consistency – his teams will make bowl games and challenge the best in the conference, just be patient.
2012 Early Projection: 5-7
To see the 2012 PAC-12 composite schedule, click here.
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