If the Cougs' season started tomorrow...

IF THE SEASON started tomorrow, Mike Leach might go for it on fourth down even more than he has in the past. How so? Here are five noteworthy themes culled from spring ball with Washington State…

Granted, the new class hasn't arrived, we're just more than halfway through spring ball and there's a whole summer of offseason workouts plus all of all fall camp to come. Still, here are five themes that have emerged this spring. And if the season started today

The punting and kicking game are looking like they'll be an adventure.
Kicker Erik Powell has been good lately, making 5-of-6 over the last two practices in team session ranging from 23- to 49-yards Wes Concepcion, a punter by trade, has missed most of his FG tries from long range. The punting results have been worse, with the low point coming on Day 4 with a bevy of wounded ducks and shanks filling the skies along with three blocks. Mike Leach went for it 25 times on fourth down last season. That number seems likely to rise in 2014.

The o-line should not only get there, but improve.
WSU is replacing three starters but those stepping into the shoes have experience with Clay McGuire and their jumping off point is considerably further along than it was when the new staff came in. If the season started today, the starters from this chair are LT Joe Dahl, LG Gunnar Eklund, RG Jacob Seydel and RT Cole Madison. At center, it's a dead heat between Riley Sorenson and Sam Flor. Others outside the starting lineup but who are getting significant turns and looks are Devonte McClain, Eduardo Middleton and Cody O'Connell. And if WSU improves upon last year, the 2015 OL could be something to see – of all those mentioned above, there's not a senior among ‘em.

Connor Halliday and the WRs are likely to set new highs.
Halliday has looked ready to start the season. His wide receivers, particularly Vince Mayle, have looked ready to make some noise. The running backs are deeper, although that doesn't mean they're going to suddenly start running the ball a lot – Mike Leach wants his backs to lead the league in all-purpose yards, not rushing hashes and his game plans will continue to reflect that. The Cougar offense looks improved, and that has manifested itself most in terms of consistency with Halliday leading the way.

The secondary is who we thought they were.
And we thought they were young and inexperienced. Safeties Taylor Taliulu and Isaac Dotson have emerged as the strongest starting candidates but more improvement is needed. The corners are more of a concern, with Sebastian LaRue now moving over from receiver. The good news is two-fold – they're young but Charleston White, Marcellus Pippins and Daquawn Brown are capable of developing into good ones over the course of their careers. And they should have help because…

The defensive line will be saltier.
WSU didn't put nearly enough heat on quarterbacks in 2013. This spring, the No. 1 d-line has shown improvement there during the scrimmaging portions of practices – particularly Xavier Cooper and Toni Pole, usually good for a sack apiece each day. No one should be predicting huge sack numbers at this stage but as the old adage goes, if WSU can bring adequate pressure, the corner and safety jobs become a lot more manageable. The DL also looks to be developing quality depth in Robert Barber, Daniel Ekuale and Gerald Sterling.

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