Five quick WSU takeaways through Day 9

LEWISTON -- On paper, the Cougs are simply stacked at running back. The first nine days of fall camp have reinforced that notion in a big way and onne particular stat from Saturday's scrimmage was most illuminating ...

1) Don't forget about The Mason
Mike Leach was pleased with the running backs in the scrimmage, even though their rushing totals were on the small side. But Leach has never quantified his running backs that way -- it's about all-purpose yardage. And how they help move the chains.

Take RB Marcus Mason, WSU's leader in all-purpose-yardage last year and the guy who had the second-most receptions on the team: Leach has consistently said this fall camp that Theron West and Jamal Morrow are the top two running backs -- and did so again on Sunday.

But did you notice that Mason was WSU's leading receiver in the scrimmage, with four grabs? Something tells us that the running back position is going to be quite productive this season. And the benchmark has already been set.

2) Last year is so last year
Leach continues to consistently demonstrate that last year's performance really doesn't mean jack when it comes to this year. If you're not producing at a high level, and someone else is, that guy is going to become the guy.

Gabe Marks knows this well. Marks, who caught the second-most passes in WSU history last year with 74, was the third-string Z receiver in the scrimmage. Isiah Myers, who has found that consistency this fall camp that had been missing previously, is the No. 1 and Kristoff Williams, who is having a very good fall camp himself, is the No. 2.

Things could change, there's a lot of camp left. And Marks knows what he needs to do - play within the scheme and up his production. By the way, as Leach wants to rotate eight at the four wideout spots, it looks like he'll be in pretty good shape to do exactly that with the high volume of receiving talent in the fold.

3) Crossing the line
The Cougar d-line this camp has performed well, and it goes beyond the starters.

Just about everyone and their sister this offseason in the media, based on the 2013 season, has said the Cougar defense will hold back the Cougs this season. And with the youth in the secondary, and last year, it's certainly understandable. But the thing about defense ...

If you have a really good defensive line, that can make the guys behind, and the defense as a whole, look like world beaters. But they've done some very good work in Lewiston and it's not just T Zavier Cooper, NT Toni Pole and E Destinty Vaeao. It's rotational reserves Darryl Paulo, Robert Barber, Daniel Ekuale and Lyman Faoliu, too.

It's far too early to say WSU will field a top d-line unit. There are plenty of things they can still get better at and consistency is an elusive state of being. But the evidence in hand, at the least, says it's possible some media types later this year could be writing, 'You know, the Cougar defense is better than I thought, than was advertised to me.'

4) Player movement
Riley Sorenson has made a slight move upwards in his battle at center with Sam Flor. Chester Sua has done the same with Tana Pritchard at the WIL. Calvin Green and Rickey Galvin are locked in a tight one at the H.

Tracy Clark has to this point fought off the challengers at corner. Eduardo Middleton is getting some more looks with the 1s on the o-line. Darius Lemora is doing the same at strong safety. Sulaiman Hameed, listed as a corner, is getting a longer look at safety.

The thing about all these position battles ... they're going to last beyond camp. Leach has shown he has no problem in swapping out a starter for a new guy if the play of both starter and backup warrants it.

5) Striking the right balance
Leach has eased off the reins a little the last several days, and for good reason.

If you do too much hitting, you're running the risk of overtaxing the players and that could provide diminishing returns out of the gate as well as late in the season. If you do too little, you run the risk of the Cougs needing the first few games to really crank it up.

From our chair, it feels like Leach has hit the Goldilocks level through the first nine days -- just right.


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