PULLMAN, Wash. — Fall camp is a time for experimentation, and also a time to find a team's identity. No doubt Mike Leach will dabble in both over the next few weeks before the team's August 31st kick off against New Mexico State. Here are some of the most important questions the team needs to answer as they head in to the 2019 season.
3. WHO WILL BE THE BACKUP RUNNING BACK?
Max Borghi is obviously the starter, but WSU ran a lot of sets in the backfield last year with both Borghi and James Williams lining up. It normally resulted in positive yardage for the team, so finding out who option number two is will be big this year.
There are six running backs on the roster and one fullback, junior Clay Markoff. Three of their six running backs are freshmen or redshirt freshmen.
This kind of looks like former Notre Dame player and junior college transfer Deon McIntosh's job to lose, but Leach was pretty ambiguous about him today and isntead talked about the running back group as a whole.
"We'll see what he can do. We really don't know yet," said Leach of McIntosh. "We felt like Markoff and Dubotz both had good springs so they'll contribute to that. Then Jouvensly, we'll see what he can do. We have more bodies than we usually do."
2. WHO WILL LEAD WSU'S DEFENSE?
Last year this was definitely not a question with sixth year senior Peyton Pelluer still playing for the Cougs. Hunter Dale was another guy who had no problem speaking up. Both of those players are now gone.
It looked like Jalen Thompson's group to lead, but then Jalen was deemed ineligible by the NCAA and he was on to the NFL.
My four candidates for leader would be senior corner Marcus Strong, junior defensive lineman Will Rodgers, junior linebacker Jahad Woods, or junior safety Skyler Thomas. However out of those four, I don't see a clear cut favorite.
Leach said Jahad Woods may be a good candidate, but overall he thinks it'll work itself out.
"Ideally everybody is the leader of themselves," said Leach. "In doing so, they're trying to push themselves to be the best they can possibly be. I don't think we need a fearless leader per-say. That's part of what coaches are for."
1. WHO WILL START AT QUARTERBACK?
This is the most obvious question heading in to fall camp. It feels like Gage Gubrud's job to lose, as programs don't normally bring in sixth year transfers unless they think they will start, but who knows with Mike Leach.
Gubrud didn't practice much in the spring due to an injury so making any sort of statement about how he's doing in the offense is mere speculation. However, Gubrud did tell our sister station Portland, KGW, that he feels pretty comfortable in the offense right now.
The other contenders for the job are senior Anthony Gordon, who looked great in the spring, and senior Trey Tinsley, who didn't look so great in the spring. Of course, we have to throw sophomore Cam Cooper in there too, but I still think he's a year out from starting.
Leach did say he's pretty adamant on having the starter set in place two weeks before the first game.
"Definitely. I think you've got the zero the reps in. Then of course, once you get a game plan mold that around everybody."
WSU football begins practice on Friday at 2 PM on their practice field, after that they will have camp in Lewiston for a week.