Post-Spring 2014 Wrap-Up

Post-Spring 2014 Wrap-Up

Hello Followers.  Hope you’re doing great.

As you all know, it’s been a long, long time since I or anyone else has frequented this here blog.   And even though I’ve missed writing from time to time, for the most part, it’s been a good thing.   I mean, after nearly 10 years of doing the blog thing year round, it was time to take a serious break.   Moreover, given that I have something called a “tenure review” coming up within the next year or so, well, I’ve had a lot of work to do…..

That said, I HAVE managed to keep track of the happenings surrounding spring ball—not only for our Cougars, but for the rest of the Pac-12 as well.

So, given that I have been busy—but not THAT busy—I’ve got two posts for you in the hopper.

The first, which is the topic of today’s post, focuses on my overall “take-aways” from spring ball. The second, which will be there for the taking tomorrow, offers my post-spring rankings for the Pac-12 North.  And just as a teaser, there is a surprise or two waiting for you in that one.

But before we get to that, a few words about the 2014 version of Cougar Spring Football…


Followers, because time remains short for me today, I thought I’d give you my spring thoughts in quasi-list form.  So, here we go…..

Post-Spring 2014 Wrap-Up

Take #1.  Connor Halliday is going to have a monster year.  

For those of you who didn’t watch the spring game last Saturday, these were Halliday’s numbers:   320+ yards, 3 TD’s, and 2 Ints.  AND THAT WAS JUST IN ONE STINKING HALF!!  To add to that, Halliday had no Dom Williams, Kristoff Williams, Gabe Marks, RG5, or Marcus Mason to throw to.  And in spite having a tough stretch throwing into the wind, he was accurate, quick, decisive, and frankly, the best looking quarterback we’ve had since Ryan Leaf.  And in case you’ve forgot:  With the exception of Alex Brink, whenever Cougar teams have returned a quarterback of Halliday’s stature and experience, we’ve won at least 9 games the following year (see Rosenbach, Bledsoe, Leaf, and Gesser).

The question, of course, is whether Connor will be able to reduce the amount of key mistakes he makes like Leaf did in his final year.  If he does, then monster statistics like 5,000 yards and 40 touches are truly within reach.  With a bowl game included, I think he’s going to reach the 5K yards total.  If he reaches 40 touches this year as well, this is going to be one heckuva special season.

Take #2.  The Offensive Line Looks Good.

One of the benefits of being much improved on the Defensive Line is that, when the offensive line plays reasonably well, there is just confidence to think that they’re going to do well against others.  And based on what I saw in the Spring game, this group seems WAY ahead of where last year’s group was at the same time.  So, the big question is whether they can make the kind of gains that last year’s group did over the summer.  If they do—and when you factor in the improvement of folks at the skill positions, well, things look awfully good for the Cougs on offense heading into 2014.

Post-Spring 2014 Wrap-Up

Take #3.  Saturdays will Turn to Sundays

Obviously, it’s way too early to make predictions about whether our current players will improve enough to play on Sundays.  But after watching the Spring game—coupled with videos and replays from this past year—this much seems clear:  I think we might have 6 Wide Receivers that can play in the Pro’s.  Specifically, Mayle, Cracraft, and Dom Williams are bonafide NFL prospects.   Clearly, if you watch Dennis Simmons’ video on, he thinks that Kristoff has that potential.  And while depth at that position in the conference and nationally makes bold predictions prohibitive, based on what I saw on Saturday, I think RG5 has the type of skill set to play in Canada….Ditto Isiah Myers.

Post-Spring 2014 Wrap-Up

And then we had the emergence of Calvin Green in the event that Gabe Marks’ groin injury doesn’t heal in time.  In other words, we are LOADED at the WR position and are more talented at RB than we’ve seen since 2006.  So, again, LOTs to be excited about on offense.

 Take #4.   Connor Better Stay Healthy

Those who have frequented the WSU blogosphere over the past several years are well aware of the following “fact.” Namely, the most popular guy on the Cougar football team since about 2005 has been the back-up quarterback.   But that better change this year.

I mean, not only is Connor our #1 guy A-Z, spring practice showed me that he might be our ONLY guy.  Meaning: While I thought that Luke Falk looked pretty good at times, Bruggman seems like he’s a long way away from reaching his potential.  And so, if Connor goes down, the chance for a second straight bowl game will probably go  with it.   So, even if aspects of Mr. Halliday’s game and decision making gets you riled up from time to time, let’s keep it all in perspective this year.  He’s our guy—so we better fricking keep him healthy!  Thankfully, that inane new hitting rule figures to help us do just that!

Post-Spring 2014 Wrap-Up

Take #5.  The DB’s look Fast.

Have any of you had the opportunity to see a rewind of Horton’s pick six against SC lately?

I actually happened to stumble across those highlights right after the spring game. And after re-watching his play in that game and others, let me tell you something—that young man made the most out of every single inch of his athletic ability.   Because he was NOT a fast man….

Post-Spring 2014 Wrap-Up

So, it was pretty fun to watch D-Brown and the rest of the DB’s run around a bit last Saturday.  And while the speed of that group is no guarantee of their effectiveness in the fall, it does feel that if they can gain a bit of confidence early, they could be pretty good by mid-season.

Take #6.  The 2014 Cougar Football Team Can Beat Every Team on Its Schedule

It’s been a long, long time since anyone has been able to say or write this.  But, as we head into this seemingly all-important 2014-15 season, I believe the above headline is true.  While this group is neither deep enough or talented enough to go 12-0 or 11-1, it is good enough to beat any team on its schedule.  And that is reason enough to get really, really, REALLY excited about watching us play this fall.  I, for one, really cannot wait!

That said, before we get too “puppies and rainbows”on the upcoming season, a word or two of caution:

We haven’t seen how the 2014 Cougar defense will defend the run!!!!!

And truly, whenever you talk defense, everyone’s all-important benchmark is a team’s ability to stop the run.  Will the 2014 Cougars be able to keep teams off the field?

My answer after the spring:  I really don’t know.  Because, as we saw last year, whenever we played a team that had any semblance of offensive balance, our back 7 got TORCHED.  So, while our increased depth on the defensive line offers real hope that our defensive front  can remain stout for 4 quarters, there are still SERIOUS questions about the overall quickness, lateral speed, and strength of our Linebackers.  There are also real questions about our safety play against the run—questions that we will not find answers to until the Rutgers and Nevada games.

In the end, I view our ability to stop the run as THE key determinant to whether we’re fighting to regain bowl eligibility in November or contending for a Pac-12 North Divisional championship.  And that, dear followers, is the floor and the ceiling for 2014.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a quick ranking of the Pac-12 North post-spring.

All for now.  Go Cougs.

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