Volero: State of the Union at the WSU Buck

WHEN IT COMES to the BUCK position at Washington State, first things first – in looking over the updated 2014 roster, are there depth concerns? That was one of the many things we asked assistant coach Paul Volero on Friday in his assessment of the position coming out of the spring. And his answer may surprise you.

Kache Palacio and Ivan McLennan are battling neck and neck for the starting job. The third player listed on the depth chart, Emmitt Su'a-Kalio, is no longer with the program as CF.C reported late Thursday. So on paper, with the fact that injuries happen, there's cause for concern in 2014 when it comes to depth with only a pair of true BUCK linebackers, right?

"No, not at all. We're a multiple front and we can always adjust that way… and still run our defense. The great thing about our defense is we can always adjust our defense schematically and still do what we want to do," said Paul Volero.

And Volero has some other pieces to play with besides Palacio and McLennan.

"There are guys, like Jeremiah Allison and Lyman Faoliu, in limited packages that we also use in that spot. So we're always ready to put someone in there as needed," said Volero.

AS FOR THE two main players at the BUCK, Volero says Palacio is continuing to improve in faster processing information quickly – he's not yet to the point he's simply reacting, there's still some thinking going on. But he's getting there.

"Kache had a good spring, I think the sky is the limit on him," said Volero. "And in reaching those goals he's also got to put some weight on to help us. He's about 230 right now, we need him heavier than that, (around 240.) The right nutrition is as important in workouts -- gotta have great discipline, gotta have a great regimen.

"Once he gets to the area of 240 he's going to be a lot better player. But he also didn't have the benefit of redshirting that first year so I think he's on pace to help us win."

Palacio's strength is pass rushing, but Volero says he can be better.

"I believe he had four (sacks) last year, but he could have 9-10 easy. It's a matter of sealing the deal. But he's really close on really breaking out," said Volero.

WITH McLENNAN, Volero says the redshirt year was key.

"He also had a good spring, he benefited from getting some real development by not playing last year," said Volero. "This spring put him in position to help us win... He's a longer-levered kid, I think in pass rushing he really helps us as well. Now he's picking up the rest of the defense.

"He's a little bit bigger (6-4, 240) he has longer arms, has a little more range both in running ability and be able to use his hands and long arms to get off blocks and also use them in pass rush."

VOLERO SAID improvement is always needed and he preaches to his players the goal of getting better every day this summer and on into fall camp.

"These guys have come a long way, and they're only going to get better," said Volero.

The Cougs saw no offseason coaching movement this winter, and Volero says he's thrilled to be entering his third season at Washington State. "I do want to say this: I really enjoy working for the best structure in all of Division I football. Starting with President Floyd, Bill Moos and Mike Leach. Coach Leach has put a staff together defensively that is the best I've ever been around. We do a great job of game planning and putting our guys in the right places and giving us the best chance to win. We're still in a building process but winning is (now) part of that process," said Volero.

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