Countdown to Spring: Question No. 5

THE SPRING SESSION at Washington State that begins next month will hold myriad storylines – it's a challenge to whittle them down to just five. But whittle down we have…

No 5. Schizophrenic no more?
The Cougs in 2012 looked competitive one week, but then lost the next.

Sometimes they displayed both characteristics in the same game from half to half, or even from series to series.

Youth and inexperience will do that -- Mike Leach noted recently the Cougs started 15 freshmen in 2012. Although it doesn't explain everything. Four combined blocks on kicks and punts against UCLA? That's simply a lack of execution, and a lot of it.

When you get down to the main reasons, and the difference between winning and losing, WSU didn't execute. The focus and effort wasn't always there. Add in that they needed to be quicker and stronger and you have the recipe for a 3-9 season. The 'quicker and stronger' part generally can't be fixed during the season, that's what the offseason is about.

With a group of redshirt freshmen now entering the mix, along with the incoming recruiting class, the Cougs look like they're getting there. Leach recently told CF.C the difference in Midnight Maneuvers between this year and last was considerable. And the spring should make that plain.

The Cougs will be a year deeper into Leach and Co.'s offensive and defensive schemes, and that should also help significantly. What's left to accomplish this spring is to put the focus, execution and gains out onto the field.

WSU will be picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North this year, just like Oregon State was this past season. OSU, of course, finished ranked in the Top 20. The Cougs will need to get an upset or two out of the gate before that kind of chatter could start, but last year's seasoning is a good start.

It will be critical this spring to see the level of competition.

If WSU is going to get things done this season, there will be clear signs of increased competition in the fight for jobs. That's one thing that fans won't have to wait for in fall camp to get a good read on these 2013 Cougars.

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