Moos feelin’ good this spring about Cougar D

BILL MOOS SAW the same deficits, especially on defense, that Cougar fans did last season. “I can understand our fans being disappointed with our record last year. I’m disappointed too. And probably more than anyone, Mike Leach is disappointed. But I feel good about where we are with our football program. And I feel really good about the defensive side of the ball,” Moos told Cougfan.com.

Bill Moos points to two reasons for that headed into the spring. First, the experience gained by young players. Overall, 20 freshmen played this past season including nine true-freshmen. Twelve true- or redshirt-freshmen posted their first career start. Second, Moos points to the two new assistant coaches on the defensive side of the ball.

“They are young, energetic and from impressive football backgrounds. Alex Grinch comes from Missouri and one of the top defensive schools in the SEC. And then you have Roy Manning coming from Michigan and their college football pedigree,” said Moos.

Moos thinks Grinch, the defensive coordinator and secondary coach, and Manning, the outside linebackers coach, will make a decided impact over the 15-practice spring football session that begins next week and runs from March 26 – April 28.

“I’ve said this often: We want Washington State to be a destination, not a stepping stone. And they are thrilled to be here and to hit the ground running. I really think we’re going to see a tremendous improvement on the defensive side of the ball this year,” said Moos.

With today’s video game-like college football offenses, an aggressive defense that can generate turnovers isn’t a plus, it’s a requisite. The Cougs forced but three interceptions and recovered five fumbles last season. WSU also allowed a bevy of long drives. Moos sees that changing in 2015.

“When our offense comes off the field, it shouldn’t be a time to make your way to the concession stand. Our defense should be every bit as exciting as our offense. I really believe we are fast approaching that with the two new additions to our staff who join Ken Wilson and Joe Salave’a, two outstanding assistant coaches on that side of the ball.”

Moos, at the end of last season and despite the 3-9 record, said he still felt the Cougs improved over the 2013 bowl season. He said the same this week.

“I know people will say, well, the scoreboard didn’t show that and I understand that. We had some areas on both offense and defense last year that were exposed – primarily because of inexperience. But the caliber of athlete we’re now getting is a step up and I think that inexperience of last year will come back to help us in the future, and beginning with this coming season,” said Moos.

That’s not to say Moos thinks a 2015 turnaround will be an easy road.

“We play, as I’ve mentioned, in arguably the toughest conference, top to bottom, in the country,” said Moos. “We have a nice schedule, with six home games again this year and all of them in Martin Stadium. The ball probably has to bounce right this season and we have to hope injuries don’t become a big factor.

“We may be one year away from really having a tremendous roster in regards to (seasoned) talent. But I also think we’re looking pretty good right now when you talk about the caliber of player at Washington State, and the depth on both sides of the ball.”

Beyond the 2015-16 season, Moos sees the Cougs firing on all cylinders in the years to come on the gridiron and on the recruiting trail.

“I’m not going to make a prediction on wins and losses for this season but we have everything in place now in regards to facilities, our coaching staff, the caliber of players,” said Moos. “We also need to protect our home turf. We need to win at home in Martin Stadium, and that’s where the fans can really make a difference.”

Speaking of the fans, Moos had both a request and a word of thanks to offer.

“The next few years after this, we’ll have seven home games,” said Moos. “As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, it is so very important for our fans to pack that stadium and give us the maximum chance to win. And while I’m saying that, a quick shout out to our fans: I know the night games are tough and I’m so very proud of our fans who helped us post three sellouts and an attendance of 93 percent capacity this past season. We need to continue that, and improve on it, if we’re going to continue to move in the right direction.”

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