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Why is WSU's defense struggling?

The squad has given up a combined 105 points over their first two Pac-12 contests.

PULLMAN, Wash — During WSU's football game this weekend I said this on Twitter: "I've been trying to come up with a clever tweet on how bad this WSU defense is all game but I keep getting distracted by how bad this WSU defense is."

And although funny, it's true. The Cougars had an abysmal performance as they were blasted by Utah. It's a bye week, so we wont hear from Mike Leach in his normal Monday presser. This felt like the perfect time to dive into what exactly is wrong with this defense beyond the generic statement of they can't tackle.


One of the most glaring issues is the squad's inability to get to the quarterback. 

WSU is ranked 88th in the country right now with nine sacks through five games. If you watched the Utah game, you saw that their quarterback Tyler Huntley pulled several Houdini moves to keep plays alive, and a few of those came on pivotal third downs. 

To put this in perspective, at this point last season WSU ranked 29th in the FBS in sacks with 14. They ended 2018 ranked 16th, with 38.


The Coug's secondary experienced a mass exodus last off season. 

Safety Jalen Thompson was ruled ineligible and went to the NFL. Corners Darrien Molton and Sean Harper were both lost to graduation. Fellow corners Deion Singleton and Myles Green-Richards transferred, while Isaiah Love left the team. Safeties Makiah Gilmer, Alex Flood, and Hayden Schmidt are also no longer on the roster. To put it simply, a lot of players with experience in the system left the team. 

WSU was forced to rebuild with junior college transfers and freshmen, especially in the corner position. This is a squad that just doesn't have a lot of experience in the secondary. It's showing.


And now we head to my biggest issue of all. 

At the beginning of camp linebacker Justus Rogers said, "It's funny, we have twelve guys trying to break the huddle down in the weight room."

Some people heard that and thought that was great that guys were trying to step up.

I heard that and was concerned. It said to me that no one is the clear, respected leader of this offense. Peyton Pelluer and Hunter Dale held that role firm and strong last season. This year, there's just no one who is 'that guy' on the team. 

The guy that could most clearly be the leader is Jahad Woods, but that's not his personality. He's a pretty quiet dude. 

Last week defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys was asked if he's noticed anyone in the defense be more vocal. His response? "I have." Implying that he's been more vocal, not his players.

WSU has had the mantra this season with the defense that they don't need a clear cut leader because the coaches can lead. I'm sorry, but I'm just not buying it.

RELATED: Huntley leads No. 19 Utah past Washington State 38-13

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