2016-17 Football Previews – (Pac-12) – Cougars
Looking for 2016 Washington State Cougars predictions? WSU have to be careful they don’t suffer through an identity crisis in 2016; for many years they have been among the bottom rung of the Pac-12 Conference – they had eight straight losing seasons prior to last year’s 9-4 result – and now they are among the contenders.
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2016-17 College Football Preview – Washington State Cougars
Head Coach: Mike Leach
2015 Record: 9-4
Washington State Cougars Odds to win 2017 FBS Championship: +20000
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The “Wazzu” Cougars have a primo pass attack that should hold them in good stead, but prolific offensive head coach Mike Leach and his cronies cannot rest on their laurels in Pullman.
Washington State Cougars Predictions: Team Strengths
Even though Coach Leach has no playing experience, he out-paced expectations when at Texas Tech and he is known for being offensively innovative.
He went from a three-win 2014 with Washington State and he squeezed nine wins out of the team last year, including a bowl win over Miami. Leach calls his own plays in the “Air Raid” offense, which mantra is basically “throw the ball early, often, and everywhere”.
As a result, junior QB Luke Falk racked up an amazing 4,561 yards last season to go with 38 TDs to just eight interceptions.
Wazzu’s receivers are like the “Chicken or the Egg”, but in a good way: They are talented so they rack up lots of stats, and the eye-popping numbers they get, due to being thrown to so often in the Air Raid, make them look even more talented than they may be.
Philosophical loops aside, seniors Gabe Marks and River Cracraft combined for over 1,700 receiving yards and 19 scores. Marks, especially, is one of the best WRs in the conference.
Defensively, the mail is carried by FS Shalom Luani, MLB Peyton Pelluer and DE Hercules Mata’afa.
Washington State Cougars Predictions: Team Weaknesses
Apart from Mata’afa, Washington State’s defensive line is in rough shape. Defensive tackle Robert Barber is the only returning starter in the unit (Mata’afa was a situational pass rusher a year ago) and Barber didn’t scare anyone in ’15.
Defensive co-ordinator Alex Grinch will look to sophomore DE Logan Tago to take a major step forward.
The Cougars average offensive line is masked somewhat by all the rapid-fire passes being flung around by Falk; the short drop-backs the QB makes means the front wall doesn’t have to block for very long.
Still, no one on the line stands out apart from C Riley Sorenson.
Finally, special teams were lousy for the Cougs last year, as they ranked #118 in the Bowl Subdivision. Everyone other than K Erik Powell (he was pretty good, nailing 20 of 26 field goals) needs to get their act together.
Sophomore punter Zach Charme must show improvement, or he will be replaced.
2016 Washington State Cougars Prediction: 7-6
The Cougars offense will be very explosive once again, and Leach did a great job last year without the regular recruiting riches that some of the other Pac-12 programs enjoy.
The team went 7-2 down the stretch, and really developed a swagger in the second half of the season.
Yet, the upper half of the Pac-12 North division is deadly, with Apple Cup rival Washington, Oregon and Stanford with more talented rosters than the Cougs.
Washington State also has a road game on the dreaded Smurf Turf, at Mountain West powerhouse Boise State.
Wazzu is good again and will be among the contenders in the North division, but it will be tough to match 2015’s win output.
2016 Washington State Cougars Football Schedule
- 09/03/2016 vs. Eastern Washington 8:00 pm
- 09/10/2016 at Boise St. 10:15 pm
- 09/17/2016 vs. Idaho 2:00 pm
- 09/24/2016 BYE
- 10/01/2016 vs. Oregon TBA
- 10/08/2016 at Stanford TBA
- 10/15/2016 vs. UCLA TBA
- 10/22/2016 at Arizona St. TBA
- 10/29/2016 at Oregon St. TBA
- 11/05/2016 vs. Arizona TBA
- 11/12/2016 vs. California TBA
- 11/19/2016 at Colorado TBA
- 11/25/2016 vs. Washington 3:30 pm
What do you think about our 2016 Washington State Cougars predictions? Please leave us a comment below telling us how you think they’ll do in 2016!
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