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WSU Cougars 2013 NCAA Football Gambling Odds & Predictions

2013-14 Football Previews — (Pac-12) — Cougars

The Washington State Cougars entered 2012 with high hopes following the hiring of Mike Leach. The return of the head coach to college football was supposed to bring the team a new flair, and while the exciting offense was certainly there at times, the success that followed was underwhelming to say the least.

2013 Preview: Washington State Cougars (Team Link)
Coach: Mike Leach
2012 Record: 3-9 (1-8)
UW Gambling Odds from Bovada.lv: +2030 (Field)

Following a 3-9 season, WSU is looking to slowly turn things around. They’ve lost at least eight games for the last five years, and they haven’t been to a bowl game since 2003. Success for this team isn’t going to mean leaping into BCS contention; it’s going to mean breaking those two disastrous trends.

Part of the reason the team struggled is because of the learning curve surrounding the new system. Leach’s Air Raid offense, as well as the 3-4 defense, caused a bit of confusion on both sides of the ball. Talent is also a clear concern when it comes to winning games, but knowing the play set should no longer be a concern.

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You can’t start a conversation about a Leach-coached team without talking about the offense. More specifically, you can’t have a discussion without bringing up the man behind center. Jeff Tuel is gone, which seemingly means the job is Connor Halliday’s. However, there are a pair of youngsters in Austin Apodaca and Tyler Bruggman who could challenge the inconsistent veteran.

Halliday is coming off of a year that saw him throw 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His QB Rating was a 114.5, which is a number that has to be higher in such a throw-heavy offense. On the year, the team ranked ninth in the nation in passing yards, but those yards rarely equated to points. They recorded just 20.4 points per game, which was only good enough for 108th in the country.

Balance isn’t something this roster is known for, as the rushing game was virtually non-existent. The team’s top rusher was Carl Winston, and he only collected 280 yards on the year. By the end of the season, WSU averaged just 29.1 yards per contest on the ground (124th), and while it’s easy to brush that off because of the system, a lack of scoring makes it difficult to ignore any shortcoming.

Defensively, this team struggled to stop other squads from scoring. It allowed 33.7 points, which was only good enough for 101st nationwide. The silver lining is that they actually did a good job getting to the quarterback. They finished 11th in the country in sacks, largely because of their willingness to bring pressure from multiple spots on the field. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

Size is a problem for this team on defense, which is why it will look to bring the attack again in 2013. Getting to the quarterback is a huge part of the equation, but bringing multiple tacklers to the ball—wherever it may be—is just as important. The leader of the crew is Deone Bucannon. He recorded the most stops on the team in 2012, and he’ll need the rest of the defense to follow suit in 2013.

As much as defense means to most teams, we’d be remiss not to revisit the offense when it comes to the Cougars. We know they’re going to pass the ball, so the question becomes: How can they improve?

First and foremost, the offensive line needs to do a better job protecting. This offense is nothing without a high completion rate, and Washington State gave up more sacks than any other team in 2012.

The No. 1 target for Halliday will be either Gabe Marks or Dominique Williams. Williams caught 31 passes for 498 yards last year, while Marks had 49 catches for 560 yards. Both players will need to put together a full year of dominant play, as a brutal schedule won’t allow them to establish momentum at any point in the process.

2013 Cougars Schedule:

Sat, Aug. 31 @ Auburn
Sat, Sept. 7 @ USC
Sat, Sept. 14 vs. Southern Utah
Sat, Sept. 21 vs. Idaho
Sat, Sept. 28 vs. Stanford
Sat, Oct. 5 @ California
Sat, Oct. 12 vs. Oregon St.
Sat, Oct. 19 @ Oregon
Thurs, Oct. 31 vs. Arizona St.
Sat, Nov. 16 @ Arizona
Sat, Nov. 23 vs. Utah
Fri, Nov. 29 @ Washington

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