Coming off of their first bowl game in 10 years, the Cougars come into spring this year with the most momentum they have had during an off-season (even with the New Mexico Bowl fiasco) since Bill Doba was early in his career as head coach. The Cougars return the bulk of their talent on offense and in the front seven of their defense, but there are some major question marks as to who will be holding down the back end of their defense in 2014 and they will have to start addressing it this spring.
The Cougars lose not only three of their four starters from 2013, they also two of their key back-ups from a unit that struggled mightily to defend the pass even with star safety Deone Bucannon who is now headed to the NFL. Along with Bucannon, the Cougars also lose experienced seniors Damante Horton, Nolan Washington, Casey Locker and Anthony Carpenter and there aren't a great wealth of easy fill-ins waiting in the wings.
Sophomore Daquawn Brown isn't quite the most-experienced player coming back for the Cougars in the secondary, but he is probably the most-talented. Brown was one of the best freshman cornerbacks in the conference and has the potential to be the best plays at the position that they have had in a very long time if he continues to develop.
Brown is almost assuredly going to be one of the starters at cornerback, but it's the other spot for the Cougars that is going to be much more of a question mark. There are very few players after Brown with experience, but senior Tracy Clark has seen a bit of action and right now has to be one of the favorites to win the spot.
Outside of Clark, there are no corners with experience currently on the Cougars' roster, but they signed four cornerbacks in the Class of 2014, so the fight for the spot will almost assuredly not be put to rest until Fall camp.
There is a little bit more experience at safety, as regular starter, junior Taylor Taliulu will be back. Taliulu finished 2013 with 54 tackles and will be the most-experienced player in the Washington State secondary. The other starting spot will be open, but sophomore Isaac Dotson, a big athlete at 6'1 212, that is a bit in the mold of Bucannon, say extensive time as a freshman in 2013 and finished with a handful of tackles.
If Dotson can't step up, a guy who is even more in the mold of Deone Bucannon, his younger brother who will be a sophomore and has a bit of the size and athleticism that made Deone such a force at the position. David doesn't have much experience, but neither do many other safeties on the Cougars' roster after Taliulu so he will have a great opportunity to start making his mark this spring.