Washington State Spring Practice: Mike Leach Lowers The Anchors

You know the Washington St. Cougars will be fun to monitor this season. There's a new offense in town, a new passing attack, a new coach (hell, a force of nature coach), a new energy filtering into Pullman. For the first time in nearly a decade, there's hope that WSU football will finally do something significant.

Really, this is a transitional period right now. These next few weeks will be critical to figuring out what will work and what won't work. In fact, there's so much upheaval at almost every position it's impossible to figure out where to start.

Quarterback: Two bright options in Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday to choose from. Tuel is the presumed starter, but Halliday is brimming with potential and could make his own move for the job. Mike Leach gives you an idea as to how both quarterbacks will be utilized in practice.

There will be an open quarterback competition, with Connor Halliday and Jeff Tuel both working with the ones -- about a 50-50 split that could change depending on the day, Leach said. The younger guys will get reps and looks, as well. In the spring, Leach runs two passing skellys, keeping an eye on one and watching tape on the other after practice. There will be plenty of work for all the quarterbacks on the roster, and all will get many reps.

This might be one of the most underrated position battles in college football this offseason, because Tuel and Halliday are a pretty strong one-two quarterback punch. Combine a good quarterback with a good passing coach, and you have a recipe for wins.

Recievers: Then of course there's the offensive Airraid scheme, which you would guess will force the wideouts to have to adapt to carrying extra loads. The first practice gives you an idea of how much it'll stretch them.

"Our receiving corps is pretty deep," said Halliday, a redshirt sophomore. "They're pretty gassed. They ran their butts off today."

The extra reps for the receivers should pay off by fall season, when they'll probably contend to be one of the most productive receiving units in the country, with Marquess Wilson playing the Michael Crabtree role in an offense that doesn't take too long to put in place.

During his press conference yesterday, Leach said he thought it would take four practices to install the basic framework of his offense. That is pretty remarkable, at least to me. One of the most prolific offenses in college football can be installed in as little as four practices. The previous staff took years to install the offense. I'm not saying Leach can't do it, because he is Mike Leach, but I'm looking forward to watching the process. If the spring game comes and the offense is running smoothly, will anyone wear pants all summer?

Running backs: Ricky Galvin has more upside, but Carl Winston is more seasoned. Who will get the nod?

Rickey Galvin was the team's leading rusher last year with 602 yards and five TDs. But Carl Winston led the team in carries. Leach may determine playing time based on how well each can catch passes in his air raid offense. Both backs are small and shifty, though Galvin has better speed.

Offensive line: Four starters will leave, but the Cougars were never a good offensive line in the Paul Wulff era, so it's hard to say how much better they'll be. Washington State's new offense should alleviate some of the pressures on the younger group, but they have a lot to learn about pass protection.

Defense: One gigantic mess. Can you name a Cougar defender?

In short, no one really knows what'll exactly happen. But these will be fun times all the way for pirates everywhere.

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