WASHINGTON STATE HAS an abundance of talent in the receiving department for 2011 but all the passing talent in the world won't keep a team from hitting roadblocks if there isn't enough of a running game to complement it. Is the Cougar running game ready to take a significant step forward this season?

Based on what I saw this spring in Pullman, and based on how recent spring and fall camps have looked, the WSU running game will emerge this year.

The offensive line opened more holes and the running backs were considerably more effective and ran with more purpose. And with so many weapons in the passing game, the Wazzu run game can take advantage of that.

Logwone Mitz looked different this spring. Specifically, he was playing quicker.

Yes, the senior-to-be is a big body 'back. Yes, he can still hit the straight-on hole and slug out tough yards. But he showed more than that in the spring and did so consistently. He had more speed and he made more cuts.

Take his 70-yard run in the final spring scrimmage. The Cougs have more speed amongst their 2s in the secondary than they've had in years past. But no one could catch Mitz on that run, even though they had favorable angles.

Rickey Galvin has had attached to him a large amount of hope and expectation for a guy who has yet to play a full season. But I've watched Galvin extensively the past two seasons in practice, and those expectations are deserved.

Watch out for No. 5 this year. He has a jab step that will freeze defenders. He has a burst that defenders will have difficulty matching.

And he just makes plays. WSU has had success with the running backs that can get lost in between the tackles and then shoot out from the scrum and then inflict further damage in space. Galvin is that kind of running back.

Carl Winston came out of the spring behind those two but he's a hard worker, a power back with some moves who will attack hole and fight for extra yards. So much of his WSU career he's either been sidelined or less than 100 percent -- we don't yet know how good he can be.

The wildcard in all of this is Arthur Burns. He was injured all of spring and having transitioned to running back from linebacker, missed out on what would have been valuable reps. Fall camp will be big for him.

Mitz came out on top of the post-spring depth chart but Galvin is right there with him. Between those two, and a more productive, deeper offensive line, and a passing game that figures to make a lot of noise, the stars are aligning for the Cougar running game as well.

To use a motion picture analogy, the Cougar running game might not be the star of the show in the post-game recaps and reviews. But it might very well turn out to be the best supporting actor, one that made the movie what it was.

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