Throw to the Good Guys
Connor Halliday was intercepted 22 times a year ago. If the Cougars are to resemble one of Mike Leach’s offensively pyrotechnic teams, that number has to come down significantly.
The offensive line has morphed into a unit largely recruited and bred under the Leach system. It’s heftier and more nimble, but three-fifths of it is inexperienced, so it likely will have to respond well to a lot of different defensive looks.
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Defend the Back End
Safety Taylor Taliulu and cornerback Daquawn Brown are the only players in the secondary with appreciable starting experience. That means — in a league that throws it, with a wealth of veteran quarterbacks — several Cougars have to grow up in a hurry.
Will specialists succeed?
The Cougars lost Andrew Furney, who was WSU’s most reliable field-goal kicker in history from long distance, while punting was inconsistent at best in ‘13. The Cougars need to upgrade at punter and hope they don’t recede too dramatically on field goals.
A year ago, WSU’s bowl breakthrough came largely because the Cougars won three Pac-12 road games. Now the challenge may be more about winning big games at home, which hasn’t always been a helpful venue in recent seasons.