WSU Fall Camp: 3 Position battles on O

ONE OF THE more intriguing offensive position battles of fall camp at Washington State will come at a position that runs five-deep. Another resides at the lynchpin of the Air Raid offense. And a third is at a position that might not immediately come to mind.

Cougar assistant coach Jim Mastro says in his 25 years, he’s never had a group like this one at WSU in 2014: five running backs who could all start.

Theron West and Jamal Morrow (pictured) had the best springs, with Mike Leach saying they would garner the lion’s share of the reps if the season were to start tomorrow.

But Marcus Mason missed spring ball to heal up from injury, and all he did last year was lead the Cougs in all-purpose yards (865) and was the team’s second leading receiver (52 receptions).

Meanwhile, Teondray Caldwell and Gerard Wicks will be looking to explode onto the scene when fall camp kicks off on Saturday.

Leach cares far more about all-purpose yards than trying to run the ball down someone’s throat, so the running backs who produce out in space and in the pattern during camp figure to get long looks. That doesn’t mean the Cougs aren’t going to run it, it just means it’s not a major feature of the Air Raid offense. That said…

We’ve mentioned it a few times but it’s worth repeating what Connor Halliday said on the Pac-12 Network during media days: “Running the ball a bit more is going to be a big staple of our offense,” said Halliday.

LT Joe Dahl, LG Gunnar Eklund, RG Jacob Seydel and RT Cole Madison are the clear frontrunners at their positions. The battle at center between Sam Flor and Riley Sorenson is a different story.

"I would say it's probably the closest battle we've got out there," OL coach Clay McGuire told CF.C last month.

Leach post-spring said Flor (6-4, 307) holds the slightest of edges over Sorenson (6-4, 315), “but it's really, really close.” Flor ran with the No. 1 Crimson offense in the spring game.

What figures to make the difference might come down to who best makes the proper reads pre-snap. And that might come down to what’s already taken place in the film room this summer.

"The center in our offense is very important,” McGuire said. “They make a lot of calls out there for us. I'd like to see a guy who is basically like Elliott Bosch. He was here and studied more film than anyone. Every intangible you could have, he had.”

The emergence of Vince Mayle has created a good problem to have.

Mayle is listed at the “X” receiver and after a terrific spring, he's atop the depth chart at that spot. But Dom Williams is a heck of a wideout, too. So do you put Williams at the other outside receiver in the Cougs’ Air Raid, the “Z”?

Well, the Z has Gabe Marks, and all he did was lead the Cougs in receiving last year with 74 grabs, the second-most all-time at Washington State. But Marks missed much of the spring and he's not listed as the starter there -- Kristoff Williams is the No. 1 on the depth chart released yesterday after a very good spring.

River Cracraft is the starting “Y” but look out for the speedy Robert Lewsis, listed as the No. 2 and who should be more consistently productive as a redshirt-freshman this season.

Rickey Galvin is the starting “H” and behind him is Calvin Green, who just may be this year's super newcomer, the way Cracraft and A HREF=//>Brett Bartolone were the last two years. Speaking of Bartolone, he also figures in here at the inside. He virtually disappeared last season due to injury but the year before, had a breakout true freshman campaign similar to Cracraft’s 2013 season.

Meanwhile, you can’t sleep on Isiah Myers. He’s shown flashes one week and then has gone quiet the next. Is 2014 when the senior puts it all together? Drew Loftus, taking advantage of some receiver injuries, became one of Halliday’s favorite targets this spring.

That's a lot of potential talent, even with four WR positions in the base offense.

Good thing, then, that Leach likes to have eight wideouts in rotation on Saturdays, and he likes his guys to be able to play different spots, too. Given the talent throughout the receiver ranks, there might be a whole lot of both going on in the opener against Rutgers. It all depending on what unfolds in fall ball. And that starts in just a couple days.

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