Mike Leach has certainly done a great job the last 3 years in Pullman, WA and he looks to compete going into the 2018 College Football Season. There are two big question marks for the Washington State University Cougars this year. 1) Who will replace Luke Falk? 2) How will the defense fair without Alex Grinch as the Defensive Coordinator?
By looking at the playmakers in this seemingly brand new team, we will get a good indication of how well this team will do! Here are six players who could be six essential contributors to the 2018 College Football Season for the Cougars.
No matter the location, the quarterback always seems to be the key ingredient in a Mike Leach offense and this year is no different. As we approach the opening kickoff, Leach and co. have not announced who the starting quarterback will be, but here are the candidates:
#10 Trey Tinsley – 6’4”, 210lbs, Redshirt Junior
#18 Anthony Gordon– 6’3”, 190lbs, Redshirt Junior
#2 Cammon Cooper– 6’4, 195lbs, Freshman
Leach sure knows how to pick the best quarterback for his offense, so there is no doubt he selects the right passer this year.
My Prediction: Trey Tinsley will be named the starter. I think the competition is close between Tinsley and Gordon. I feel that Tinsley will get the nod because he has the most in-game experience for the Cougs.
It might mostly be for holding the ball for the field goal unit, but any in-game experience is better than none. Cooper was a highly sought-after recruit, but I feel he could benefit from a redshirt season, much like many other quarterbacks in college football. Look for #10 to be behind center this year!
#47 LB- Peyton Pelluer
Pelluer is one of the best linebackers in the conference in my opinion. An aggressive player who always seems to find a way to make a play. Couple that with his ability to lead his defense and you have the makings of a great talent. Unfortunately, in the third game of the 2017 season, Pelluer broke his foot. In 3 games, Pelluer amassed 21 tackles, and a 36-Yard Pick 6. Look for these same types of numbers next season as Peyton Pelluer is back on the field terrorizing PAC-12 offenses.
#32 RB- James Williams
You don’t often think about the running back position having a big role in the Air Raid offense, but there is no doubt that Jamal Morrow was a big-time contributor last season. Look for Williams to take over the role of the impact player in the backfield this season.
He was just shy of 1,000 all-purpose yards last season, so anticipate a big increase in that number in 2018. The running back group has a new motto to live by and Williams will not disappoint. The new motto, by the way, is #AllGas.
#1 WR- Davontavean “Tay” Martin
Tay Martin is poised to have a great year. The wide receiver group is stacked, so why does he stand out? He has good size, especially for his 4.5 40-Yard dash speed. He has the ability to spread the field and make plays simply put. With the other receivers also being highly skilled, defenses must pick their poison. You cannot double-cover everyone. Martin will get open, and when he does, it is off to the races!
#30 DL- Nnamdi Oguayo
Oguayo is the only player on the defensive line to bring starting experience with him. Look for him to break out and play a big role, in the absence of break-out start Hercules Mata’afa who left for the NFL Draft. Expect him to be a key in the pass rush and to see an increase in opposing quarterback hurries.
#27 CB- Sean Harper Jr.
Harper is accompanied by a core of veteran corners in this year’s Wazzu defense. What separates Harper Jr. from the pack is his knack to always be in the right position. He has the ability to read the receivers he is covering while also keeping a watchful eye over the QB.
He seems to be more of a lockdown corner that disrupts the pass rather than an interception machine. He only had one last season, but it was against a quarterback you may have heard of, Sam Darnold. That is a pretty good interception to have in my estimation, especially since it led to one of the biggest victories in Cougars history.
#81 WR- Renard Bell
Being one of the most targeted receivers last season with Luke Falk, I couldn’t leave him off this list. Look for him to be a familiar face in the offense for whoever the new quarterback is. He seemed to be a safe bet each time Falk targeted him, so look for him to be a key contributor this year as well.