PULLMAN, Wash. — WSU began fall camp just a few days ago. Obviously, there are a ton of questions that need to be solved surrounding the team over the next few weeks. Here are my top three questions the Cougs need to solve over training camp.
3. WONDERING ABOUT THE RECEIVERS
WSU has a really interesting situation at the receiver position. They lost Brandon Arcanado, Dez Patmon, and Easop Winston to graduation, who were the clear leaders at that position last year. Then Tay Martin transferred, who figured to be a key contributor this year.
However, they still return a solid corps of Renard Bell, Calvin Jackson Jr. Travell Harris, and Jamire Calvin. Nick Rolovich has traditionally played three to six receivers consistently in his offense, so this works out well for him. Still, there’s not really a clear leader out of that group in terms of productivity. Rolovich did mention the other day that he loves Travell’s energy at practice, so perhaps he’s the emotional leader of that group.
It’s basically a group of guys who have had moments of brilliance over the years, but haven’t done that consistently game in and game out. Should be interesting to see who rises to the top there.
2. GET DEFENSIVE
Look, WSU’s defense last year, just to put it frankly, was bad.
Against Pac-12 teams that went to bowl games, they gave up on average 35 points per game. By the way, that doesn’t include the 67 point onslaught UCLA unleashed on them or the 53 points Oregon State piled up against the Cougs.
In some respects, I think getting an entirely new defensive staff was probably a good thing to happen to them, even if COVID impacted how much they could learn in the off season. It’s obvious that the 2019 staff and players weren’t jelling.
The good news is also kind of the bad news for this defense in a way. They only really lost two key players due to graduation, corner Marcus Strong and defensive lineman Karson Block. You’ve got a lot of players with reps, which is great.
However, the biggest issue I had overall with this defense last year was its lack of a vocal leader. They desperately needed one, and it just didn’t come across like they had one. The staff needs a player to step up in fall camp, or else it could be another long year.
1. MORE QUARTERBACK QUESTIONS
For the third straight year, WSU fans are wondering the same thing: Who’s starting at quarterback?
WSU is in a very unique position this year, compared to the past two quarterback battles. There are no quarterbacks on their roster who have taken a single snap in a college football game. That’s extremely rare for any program coming into a season.
The three quarterbacks in the running seem to have their own unique advantages:
- Cammon Cooper has been there the longest, so probably has the most built in chemistry with his teammates.
- Gunner Cruz is known as a vocal leader, which it seems Rolovich likes. Rolovich also said Gunner knows the offense very well.
- Freshman Jayden De Laura ran the offense that Rolovich runs, the Run and Shoot, in high school. He’s also from Hawaii so Rolovich has known him for years.
Quite honestly, this is probably one of the hardest quarterback battles in the country to diagnose right now because we aren’t allowed into practice so we can’t see anything, and also we really haven’t seen much of these guys over the past few years because WSU’s quarterback room has been filled with upperclassmen.
WSU kicks off their first game at Oregon State in just under four weeks. We’ll see how many of these questions we have answered before kickoff.