Alex Brink's 3 takeaways from WSU spring game

I CAME AWAY from the Crimson and Gray Game quite impressed with the play of young Cougar quarterbacks Luke Falk and Peyton Bender. Both signal callers showcased a variety of strengths and a good command of the Air Raid. Although QB play headlined the day, there were three other takeaways I think will be more important for Washington State in 2015.

1) Plug and play WRs:
Once again Mike Leach has found an explosive group of wide receiver to carry the load for his offense. Much has been made about the attempt to go under center and (possibly) run the football more but I am fairly confident Mike Leach will rarely turn to that new wrinkle once the season starts. Leach throws the ball. A lot. That's not going to suddenly change.

As a result, we will see much of the same inside zone style running plays when the defense lines up with only five men in the box.

Wide receiver screens, quick passes and check downs to the running back will continue to be the bread and butter of this offense.

Obviously, Dom Williams had a great day on Saturday but the play of fellow outside receivers Gabe Marks, Calvin Green and Daniel Lilienthal throughout the spring gives me a lot of confidence in what this offense can do.

With inside receiver River Cracraft out due to injury, Tyler Baker continues to step in and show that he can be productive.

Meanwhile, I believe Robert Lewis (pictured above) may have the biggest breakout campaign of any Cougar wide receiver this season.

With a new quarterback taking over the reins in 2015, this group of players is going to be incredibly important to the success of the team.

2) Pass-rushing DTs:
I loved what I saw from my perch in the radio booth when it came to the Cougar defensive line on Saturday.

Daniel Ekuale, Destiny Vaeao, and Darryl Paulo all did a great job penetrating into the offensive backfield -- and keep in mind they did so without the benefit of any blitzes.

With what is sure to be a young and inexperienced group in the secondary, it is vital that the defensive group up front is able to put some heat on the opposing passer and disrupt the running game.

If the front three or four can hold their own, this will allow new DC Alex Grinch to keep seven men in coverage and not risk giving up the big play due to blitzing extra defenders.

3) Bending but not breaking:
One thing that I liked from the Cougar defense as a whole on Saturday was the ability to respond after a big play and hold the offense to field goals instead of touchdowns. Sure, there were some big plays as you would expect but the 31-29 final score was much lower than it could have been.

The defense came up with a timely interception off of Peyton Bender after he strung together two first downs and was crossing midfield. In the second quarter both the Crimson and the Gray squads were able to hold their offensive counterpart to field goals off promising drives -- the most important one coming at the end of the first half when the Crimson had a first down at the 11-yard line. They were unable to punch it in and eventually missed the field goal on fourth down.

This resilient attitude is one of the many things I believe Coach Grinch will bring to the table this year.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
In the end, the spring game went about like one would expect -- both sides showed flashes but it is always tough in a split squad scrimmage to accurately judge the quality of the repetitions. More importantly, everyone around the program seems focused and energized for the task at hand.

Unlike last year at this time, all the talk is about Week 1 and Portland State as opposed to a potential bowl berth. If this group can maintain a "one game at a time" mentality I believe there is a very good chance for success in 2015.

I would be remiss not to mention my thoughts on the so-called quarterback competition this spring. Although I was very impressed with how Bender handled himself, I firmly believe Luke Falk is the starter for this football team.

It is exciting to have two quality players behind center but Falk’s combination of physical ability, intelligence and leadership are what this team needs headed into 2015.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alex Brink was the starting quarterback at Washington State from 2004-2007, throwing for more yards and touchdowns than anyone in school history -- and the third-most yards in Pac-10 history. He was picked second-team all-Pac-10 twice and honorable mention once. Drafted in the seventh round by the Houston Texans in 2008, he spent a season on their practice squad before playing three years in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2010-12) followed by two seasons with Montreal (2013-14). He is the head quarterbacks coach for the Barton Football Academy based in Portland and does a weekly Pac-12 podcast. He can be found on twitter at @AlexBrink10.

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