Three big questions after WSU's spring

PULLMAN – Washington State this spring provided answers to many questions but at the same time, we're left with some critical questions still to be answered between now and the season opener in Seattle. First off, who is the guy that's going to be in the middle of it all?

1. Who will be the Cougs starting center?
Barring injury or something unexpected, it appeared from my chair the center spot is the only role on the offensive line still truly up for grabs. Along with Joe Dahl and Gunnar Eklund on the left side, Cole Madison and Jacob Seydel looked to be locked in on the right side of the o-line.

When WSU released the pre-spring depth chart, Riley Sorenson and Sam Flor were listed as co-starters at center -- and that held true all the way through spring ball. They split the reps at the position almost exactly in half over the 15-practice session, providing no real answer as to who was ahead of the other in the battle for the starting spot.

The only slight indicator we can use is the fact Flor ran with the Crimson offense in the spring game, the same team as Connor Halliday. Other than that, Mike Leach (and Halliday) have basically said the two have battled to a stalemate this spring with both guys still getting a feel for the position. Halliday said he would've liked a starter to be named sooner rather than later, but it looks like the senior QB may have to wait until fall camp to get his wish.

Worth noting: Flor ran with the 1s on the final day of spring practice while Sorenson played right guard in the absence of Cole Madison, who suffered what looked to be an ankle injury in the spring game based on the Pac-12 broadcast. Sorenson also ran with the 2s at center on Day 15.

2. Will there be more shuffling in the secondary?
The Cougars' defensive backfield saw two major position movements this spring, Tracy Clark swapping with Charleston White for the second starting cornerback spot, and Beau Glover stepping in for Isaac Dotson at the second safety position. Dotson was limited the second half of spring practices, participating in some light workouts, but nothing in pads, so we can assume Glover's insertion into the starting role is due to an injury.

Regardless, the way Glover played in Dotson's absence perhaps leaves the door open for a position battle that wasn't necessarily there when spring began. The conclusion from the CF.C meeting room is that Dotson is still the guy, but Glover can't be counted out.

Clark from my chair just simply outplayed White for his spot. That's a good sign for the senior corner, but defensive coordinator and DBs coach Mike Breske said consistency continues to be Clark's issue more than anything.

With the athletic ability of White, Marcellus Pippins and the incoming freshmen that arrive later this summer, you can't rule out by any means this spot will see some players move up and down the depth chart.

3. What can we expect out of the return game?
Of the few practices in which special teams was a point of emphasis, we didn't see any live punt or kick returns. There were a few drills here and there to get a look at the blockers and the gunners, but no true 11-on-11 action.

That said, the punt returners appeared to be narrowed down to these three: Robert Lewis, Pippins and Jamal Morrow. (Sebastian LaRue is in there as well, but until the NCAA rules on his appeal to play this season rather than sit out the required one year after transferring, he can't be considered a viable option).

Meanwhile, Lewis, Pippins and Morrow had their share of both muffed punts and explosive plays in the touch drills, but without any live action reps, it's hard to get a feel for how any of them would do if the season opener was tomorrow.

The same can be said for the kick returners. I saw even less of that worked on in the spring, with the few moments only showing us who the coaches are considering having back there.

This spring, WRs Vince Mayle and Kristoff Williams received reps returning kicks, along with RBs Theron West and Morrow and I'm fairly sure I saw Pippins too. But with so few reps, it's unclear following spring ball who might line up be back deep for the Cougars on the opening kickoff.

Fall camp figures to be a different story. And it's an area WSU needs improvement upon, having ranked No. 75 out of 123 FBS teams last season on kickoff returns.

Cougfan Top Stories