The most heated position battle on WSU D is..

TUKWILA – The Cougar secondary will enter the 2014 season with a combined 16 career starts. For comparison purposes, they entered last season with a combined 71 career starts. Cougfan.com talked to Mike Breske about that, which position battle on defense as a whole is the most heated (and it's not in the secondary), and to Eric Russell about the lay of the land on special teams.

Breske and Russell on Friday at the Northwest Elite Camp said their offseasons can be summed up into one word, "busy."

"Just reviewing spring ball, from day one, practice one to practice 15, I thought we saw a nice progression with our youth," Breske said. "Obviously practice 14, our spring game, we had some great opportunities, some takeaways and (were) making some plays.

"(There are) things to work on obviously, but we practiced faster, we improved, we got better from the end compared to the beginning and now we're just going to build on that this summer before we head down to Lewiston."

The WSU defensive coordinator mentioned no one in particular in the secondary surprised him during spring ball and instead emphasized how he has an overall good group of athletes behind the front seven.

"They're (the secondary) my diaper dandies," Breske said. "We've just got to get them matured in a hurry."

Breske believes the strongest part of his defense will be found in the front seven, where the Cougars return six starters from last season.

"Our best depth is upfront," Breske said. "We're solid at the linebackers at two deep, but we've come a long way since our first year with the defensive line and real happy with where we're at."

Out of all the position battles on the defense during this offseason, Breske considered the WILL linebacker position to be considered the most "heated."

"Tana Pritchard had a real nice spring, but Chester Sua came on, is going to push him for playing time, but that's what we want at every position and that's just going to make us better."

SWTCHING OVER TO special teams, Russell said the main focus is to find consistent answers at both the kicker and punt positions, where WSU returns walk ons Wes Concepcion and Erik Powell.

"We've got to get more net punting yards, we didn't have many big returns, we didn't have any blocked kicks, but we just didn't punt the ball as consistently as we needed to," Russell said.

Beyond that, Russell said the kickoff return game towards the end of the season wasn't as productive as it should've been.

Russell said the front runners at the gunner position right now on special teams are Theron West, Rickey Galvin, Kristoff Williams, and Daquawn Brown.

"It's going to be some skilled guys that can run," Russell said.

NOTABLE NOTE:
Breske and Russell were unable to comment on the preferred walk ons joining the Cougs this upcoming season since they remain recruitable student-athletes. Included in that group is kicker Quentin Breshears, the former starting kicker at Fresno State. WSU is also bringing in preferred walk-on punter Jon Weilbacher out of Crespi, Calif.

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