Countdown to WSU spring ball: Safeties

HOW DO YOU REPLACE a player the caliber of Deone Bucannon? The easy answer is that you don't. But CougFans are going to want to keep an eye out this spring at the safety position -- there could be some pleasant surprises in store there when spring ball gets underway March 27.

How things go likely depends a good deal on how Darius Lemora performs over the course of the 15 spring practices.

If Lemora hadn't gotten dinged up his true freshman season, he almost certainly would have played and the guess here is he would have been in the starting mix next to Bucannon by midseason.

But there's no easier way to see playing turns on Saturdays diminish by looking to load up – and then missing the tackle. That's one thing Lemora needs to guard against this spring. Besides, if he takes care of his responsibilities, the big hits will come on their own.

Lemora did some things late in the season in Thursday Night Football that got defensive coordinator Mike Breske amped up. There's no question his ceiling is very high. It's a matter of when will it all click -- because safety pure and simple is a tough position to master at the college level and one that requires experience.

AND THAT LEADS into the discussion of Taylor Taliulu. He has the most experience of any Cougar safety.

The goal for Taliulu this spring is simple: play at that high level each and every play and become the unit's leader.

Taliulu will be a third-year junior this coming season and he's earned more playing time each of the previous campaigns – two starts in '12 followed by 10 starts in '13.

The challenge for Taliulu is if he can take that next step.

BOTH TALIULU AND LEMORA are likely to at least begin the spring competing at the free safety spot, while Isaac Dotson should get a ton of looks at strong safety.

Dotson was big enough (6-1, 212) and far enough along last season that he played as a true freshman, one of only four by our count.

Dotson was brought along slowly last season by Breske, playing in seven games, but plan on Breske letting him loose this spring and seeing what he's got.

Meanwhile, almost the forgotten man in the safety mix for the Cougs is Deone's brother: David Bucannon. Whereas Deone was ready to not only play but start as a true freshman, David redshirted. Last year, as Deone led the team in tackles, David didn't appear in a game.

If the younger Bucannon is going to make his mark in '14, it will have to begin in the spring. And it's not out of the realm he could surprise, he was named the Scout Team Defensive Player of the Year in '12, Mike Leach's first season on the Palouse.

It's probably asking a lot to expect Markell Sanders to challenge for a starting job in his true freshman season. But if he can at least provide solid depth here, it will be a plus, even though the ideal situation would be if the Cougs were able to redshirt him. Walk on Beau Glover, a third-year sophomore, will also be in the mix this season.

CF.C's projected pre-spring depth chart:
Isaac Dotson / David Bucannon / Markell Sanders

Taylor Taliulu / Darius Lemora / Beau Glover

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