Breske out as WSU d-coordinator, Volero too

IN A MOVE widely speculated for weeks, and perhaps sealed in Saturday's Apple Cup loss, Mike Breske has been fired as defensive coordinator at Washington State, Breske confirmed to CF.C. In addition, BUCK linebackers coach Paul Volero also has been let go, Volero confirmed to CF.C.

Multiple sources first contacted CF.C, one of whom said he heard the news from players after they were dismissed from team meetings Sunday night, with Breske and Volero later confirming the news to CF.C.

The two dismissals made it three assistant coaches let go this season. Special teams coach Eric Russell was fired mid-season after the loss to Cal. Russell also held the assistant head coach title.

Defensive line coach Joe Salave'a has added Assistant Head Coach duties to his workload according to WSU, (and not special teams coach, as the players in the meeting had speculated.)

Breske, who also coached WSU's defensive backs, came to WSU from Montana when Mike Leach was hired in 2012. He said his aim was to deploy an attacking, aggressive defense built around lock-down corners and a 3-4 base alignment.

The Cougars struggled mightily on defense his first season and while they still yielded yardage in bunches in 2013 -- ranking No.103 out of 125 team nationally in total defense -- they had turned opportunistic. The 2013 Cougars forced the second-most turnovers (30) in the Pac-12 and tied for third in red-zone defense.

With the graduation losses of Deone Bucannon, Damante Horton and Ioane Gauta, among others, that 2013 momentum didn't continue in 2014. The Cougars this season are tied for last in all of FBS in turnovers gained (eight) and are a woeful No. 96 in the nation in red-zone defense. In terms of total defense, the 2014 Cougars surrendered 16 fewer yards per game than they did in 2013 -- 442 to 458 -- but that absence of opportunism proved devastating.

Perhaps the most telling statistic in Leach's decision to replace Breske is that points allowed per game climbed to 38.6 this season, up from 32.5 last season and 33.7 in 2012.

That trend line is the polar opposite of the Cougar offense, which averaged 20.4 points per game in 2012 but grew to 31.0 last season and 31.8 this season.

The Cougars made 29 sacks in 2014, compared to 21 last season. BUCK linebacker Kache Palacio made a team-high 6.5 sacks this season, which was also more than any player on the Cougar defense in 2013.

Paul Volero sent the following message to CF.C: “I want to say something. I want to thank WSU, and the city of Pullman for the opportunity to coach here. President Floyd, Bill Moos & Coach Leach will succeed here but patience is required. Decisions need to be made in the best interest of the program, and that's the business. The program will succeed. I want to thank the Cougar seniors, as well as Kache Palacio, Ivan McLennan and the rest of our players here at Wazzu. God has closed a door and will open another. He always does. God bless and Go Cougs!”

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