Gesser: What I saw from WSU offense in spring

COUGREAT JASON GESSER was expecting a dip in the wide receiver play at Washington State this spring, especially on the outside with the graduation of both starters. But what he saw was something quite different.

Gesser estimated he saw nine practices this spring including the Crimson and Gray Game in Spokane. The dynamic play of the WSU receiving corps caught him by surprise.

“I thought it was going to be very, very tough losing Vince Mayle and Isiah Myers,” said Gesser.

But, Gesser says, Gabe Marks then emerged at the Z where Myers had been and Dom Williams grabbed hold of the X where Mayle starred last year.

“And on top of that, then seeing Calvin Green (pictured above) adjust in going from inside to outside receiver. I thought Green was overshadowed a bit by (Marks and Williams) but he looked very good, very comfortable out there," said Gesser.

Meanwhile on the inside, grabmaster River Cracraft got dinged up early in spring.

"But then you saw Tyler Baker really step up at the Y. I really thought you were going to see a dip in the receiver play, I really did -- and it didn’t drop off at all,” said Gesser.

GAINING YARDS has never been the problem for WSU under Mike Leach, it’s scoring enough points for all those yards amassed. Gesser sees improvement coming in that area in 2015 and he sees it coming on the ground.

“The emphasis to run the football was the No. 1 thing for me this spring. I saw some different formations, different schemes and thought processes down towards the red zone. And not only from your head coach but also from your quarterback. Because the quarterback is the guy who is making the checks and calls,” said Gesser.

Inside receivers coach Dave Yost at the tail end of last season told a Spokane Cougar Club luncheon that Cougar QBs in 2015 would check to the run more when the defenders in the box dictated it, more than Connor Halliday did. Gesser says the spring had Yost looking like a prophet.

“In times before where they would throw the ball, now they’re going to run it in those situations where it makes sense. I think you’re going to see Gerard Wicks be that guy who has a nose for the end zone when they get close and Keith Harrington had some good runs inside the (red zone) too,” said Gesser.

SPEAKING OF Harrington and the o-line, Gesser said they were among his top takeaways on offense.

“It was not some big drop off from 1s to 2s on the offensive line. Things didn’t suddenly go downhill when the second team guys would start to come in. And a guy who really stuck out there was Keith Harrington. He did it last year in Thursday Night Football but he did it this spring against the 1s, not just receiving the ball but running it too,” said Gesser.

But the quarterback will always be the centerpiece on offense. And in Mike Leach’s Air Raid, the offense is even more dependent upon the QB because of the sheer number of passes.

“Obviously both guys are very young but they both made really good throws and reads," said Gesser. "It was a lot more impressive than I thought it was going to be, the overall quarterback play was very good. "With Luke Falk managing the offense, getting out of the pocket some and making throws, making plays, I was very impressed with that. With Peyton Bender, you saw his arm talent, the type of ball he can throw. His arm talent is some of the best I’ve seen out there. He just needs to, and you saw some of this in the spring game with the interceptions and (near-interceptions) grow in his decision making."

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