WSU spring: 5 position battles on offense

BUBBLING JUST below the surface headed into spring ball, there are a number of position battles on offense that could be very competitive, very intense. And as has been shown on Saturdays when it comes to Mike Leach, no returning starter is likely to just cruise along unchallenged.

There are more than five position battles that will bear watching when spring drills commence March 27 out on the Palouse. But these five are particularly compelling.

Running Back: Marcus Mason established himself here last year but 1) Teondray Caldwell wants it back and 2) second-year freshmen Gerard Wicks and Jamal Morrow are coming off impressive scout team seasons. As if that's not enough, Theron West was so good during bowl practices he played himself into the thirteenth game of the season after being the forgotten man in the backfield during the first 12 contests. A battle royale here, pure and simple. (Also, look for Morrow [pictured] on kick/punt returns.)

Offensive line: CougFans might not want to read too much into who is running with the 1s on the offensive line on any given day this spring. The top three OL position battles are at center between Sam Flor and Carlos Freeman; at right guard likely featuring Riley Sorenson, Cole Madison and Eduardo Middleton; and at right tackle with Cody O'Connell, Madison (pictured, circa 2013) and Jacob Seydel -- and they figure to be a whirlwind.

X Receiver: The wideouts are largely interchangeable in Mike Leach's Air Raid and that's a good thing, because you might have four guys here at the X, yes four, all of whom are starting Pac-12 caliber: Dom Williams, Vince Mayle (pictured), Kristoff Williams and Isiah Myers. These riches could also lead to pitched battles at the other wideout spots, such as River Cracraft and Kristoff Williams competing tooth and nail at the Y.

H Receiver: Brett Bartolone (pictured) is coming off a lost season (six games, 10 catches) and will battle with a fifth-year senior in Rickey Galvin. And there are not one, nor two but three wildcards: Robert Lewis, Calvin Green and Sebastian LaRue, the latter being a guy who could play inside or outside. LaRue is appealing not to have to sit out this year after transferring, Lewis wants to shine after a year in WSU's system and Green, on campus since January, wants to become WSU's latest freshman receiving phenom, (River Cracraft, Bartolone.)

Quarterback: On paper, it seems clear who the WSU starter is at quarterback. Connor Halliday is a fifth-year senior, put up record yardage numbers last season and tossed 34 TDs. But he also tossed 22 interceptions and his decision-making, something Mike Leach holds dear, was suspect at times. Enter Tyler Bruggman (pictured), who excelled last season during Thursday Night Football and had a rock-solid Midnight Maneuvers outing last month. If Halliday leaves the door open this spring, Bruggman might run through it. But keep in mind 17 of Halliday's 22 picks came in the first seven games - did those last five contests signify the turning of a corner for Halliday?

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