WSU FALL CAMP: What we've learned - Offense

PULLMAN – In the first of a three-part series, Cougfan.com delves deeper into the first 10 days of fall camp to help put things into context and to lay out some of the broad strokes. Opinion, analysis, position battles, observations and more, starting with the WSU offense…

The Offensive Line
They're still getting used to a new scheme and they're on the small side. They have been giving the QB enough time on short passes. On the deep passes and on routes that take longer to develop, they've had some issues here and there.

But they are progressing on a positive note – and they are by and large looking much, much better than they were on Day 1.

There's been a good amount of rotation, as expected, with Wade Jacobson coming in with both the 1s and 2s, and Jake Rodgers also running with the 1s and 2s. Rodgers has played a little at right tackle but mostly at right guard, Jacobson has been at both guard spots but mostly at right guard.

The left guard spot looks pretty well set with Matt Goetz running with the 1s. At center, it looks like Elliott Bosch, a walk on, is fairly well set though Taylor Meighen has gotten some looks as well. Bosch ran with the 1s virtually all last week.

The tackle spots look pretty well set in stone, with John Fullington at left tackle, Dan Spitz manning the right tackle spot.

The QBs
Most everyone has long assumed Mike Leach (and as is often seen in many a college football program), is saying he's keeping the QB job open for competition purposes – that it's not truly in question.

I'm not so sure.

Jeff Tuel is not, from this vantage point, a lock for the starting job. Connor Halliday could conceivably beat him out.

That's based on observations through 10 days of fall camp. The main item that leads us to believe it's still open? Leach allows his quarterbacks a lot of freedom in both play calling and reads. And he seems to like Halliday's more aggressive decision making.

Halliday has been looking to throw it downfield more, while Tuel has tended to go to more of the shorter passes. They hold less risk, but also usually less reward. If the receivers work into open space and then put together a big gainer, then Tuel's approach has the best of both worlds – less risk and lots of reward.

The bottom line through 10 days -- either of Washington State's top two quarterbacks look more than competent to lead the team to victory against Pac-12 and BCS-level competition.

Stay tuned. This one might still have some data and drama yet to unfold.

The Wide Receivers
Marquess Wilson is a lock at the X, and Andrei Lintz is a lock at the Y.
(Lintz has gotten a little dinged up recently but doesn't appear to be anything serious or long-term.)

Both the H- and the Z-receiver jobs is where the battling has been running at a high pitch.

At the Z, true freshman Gabe Marks looks to have soared to the top of the depth chart. Isiah Myers has quietly had a very good camp, too, and the starting job at this stage looks to definitely be between Marks and Myers. What about Kristoff Williams? He's been out injured, on the bike for the past several days.

If Williams comes back healthy, he is definitely capable of making it a three-way battle royale as fall camp races towards its finish.

The H-receiver is a tight race – we'd have to give the slight nod to Gino Simone at this point based on the way the first 10 days have unfolded. His main competition? True freshman Brett Bartolone.

What has Simone ahead in our book – hands and experience. What has Bartolone squarely in the hunt? Speed. (If you were from Boston, you might say that Bartolone is wicked pissah fast.)

Walk on Bennett Bontemps was listed atop the depth chart post-spring and is having a decent camp, he's a solid option. Thus far, however, he has not been as explosive as the other guys.

If things continue as they have been, we'd guess Bartolone looks like he's going to get some playing time in 2012, probably rotating in with Simone.

Some other quick notes at the H and Y slot receiver positions.
  • Bobby Ratliff is another guy to keep an eye out for, he's that dark horse candidate, the kind of guy who suddenly on any given Saturday can put together some big catches in critical situations. He's been running exclusively in slot this fall camp.

    Note: Freshman wideout Dominique Williams got rid of the cast on Saturday he had been sporting on his injured left hand for a three-day stretch prior. He walked the stairs in Martin Stadium with a 25-pound weight all afternoon on Saturday.

  • Rickey Galvin has rotated in at both the Y and H positions. (Consider one possible scenario for a moment if you're an opposing defense. You're facing a 6-5, 249-pounder at the Cougs Y-receiver and all the challenges that brings. And then suddenly they rotate in at that same spot a 5-8, 176-pounder. Madness! And in a good way, if you're a fan of crimson.)

  • Galvin has not gone back to practicing with the running backs since making the switch, though Mike Leach and running backs coach Jim Mastro have said they still plan on Galvin getting some carries this year coming out of the backfield.

  • Mansel Simmons has been running on the scout team as the H.

    The Running Backs
    If the first 10 days are any indication, it's a three-way race. At the moment, however, it's between Carl Winston and Leon Brooks.

    Teondray Caldwell looked to be the heir apparent when Galvin moved to the receivers but that lasted about five minutes.

    Caldwell apparently (we say apparently because Leach does not acknowledge if a player is injured, let alone give details) got hurt a few practices ago. Since coming off the field he has been seen observing practice, but not riding a bike.

    The running backs have a lot more to do if WSU is going to field a true ground game threat. At the same time, a well-designed screen pass out of the backfield can effectively be a run, and especially in the Air Raid.

    One other note – Marcus Mason got tons of time in camp a year ago, but it didn't translate to a lot touches in the season. Through 10 days of fall camp in 2012, he's seeing few reps and looks to be behind newcomer Theron West, who is behind the Winston, Brooks and Caldwell.

    Stay tuned for two more parts of What We've Learned: The Defense and The Future (including 2012).


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