Who will be Cougs’ defensive playmaker?

THE TERM playmaker is almost always associated with offense. But what about the playmakers on D? A statistical look points to the Washington State defender who could serve as new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s chief playmaker in 2015.

There are a couple of caveats. The list doesn’t take into account freshmen who redshirted last year (no stats). And with a new defensive coordinator, there will be new looks, formations and schemes in 2015 at Washington State.

That said, playmakers are playmakers, and they are apt to find ways to make plays regardless of how they may be utilized differently.

The metric is based on stat categories from last season, each counting for one point: Tackles-for-Loss (TFL), Passes Defended (PD), Interceptions (INT), Fumble Recoveries (FR), Forced Fumbles (FF), Blocked Kicks (BLK) and Defensive or Special Teams Touchdowns (TD).

Adding up the numbers serves as a stark reminder the Cougars simply did not have enough playmakers on defense in 2014. When you consider 20 freshmen (first- and second-year) saw their first collegiate action last season, and that the biggest improvement seen often comes between their first and second playing year, there's reason to view the '15 stop corps with more optimism.

If the Cougs can produce more double-digit playmakers when it comes to the above stat categories – say increasing from three to at least seven, the '15 season could be a pleasant surprise on defense out on the Palouse.

Here’s how a baker’s dozen worth of returning Cougs added up in 2014:

Sulaiman Hameed: 1
Frankie Luvu: 2
Daniel Ekuale 3
Darius Lemora: 3.5
Marcellus Pippins: 4
Taylor Taliulu: 6
Peyton Pelluer: 6.5
Destiny Vaeao: 6.5
Jeremiah Allison: 8.5
Darryl Paulo: 9
Ivan McLennan: 10.5
Kache Palacio: 14 (pictured above)

And leading the list …
Charleston White: 15


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