How WSU returning starters compare to Pac-12

ACCORDING TO THE Pac-12 prospectus for 2015, the number of returning starters at Washington State ranks in the lower half of the conference.

According to the prospectus, Washington State has seven returnees on offense, six on defense and one specialist for a total of 14, ranking No. 8 in the Pac-12.

Take note, however, that five of those seven on offense are up front as the Cougars return their entire starting o-line: LT Joe Dahl (pictured above), LG Gunnar Eklund, C Riley Sorenson, RG Eduardo Middleton and RT Cole Madison.

Indeed, the prospectus points out, Washington State returns all 18 scholarship o-linemen from a year ago.

USC and Oregon State also return all five starters up front. The Pac-12 average this season is 3.5.

The Pac-12 defines a returning starter as a player who started at least half of his team's games, or a majority of the games at a specific position.

The Pac-12 as a whole averages 14.8 returning starters.

Here’s the league breakdown by team:

Note: Some of the numbers have changed since publication. For example, Cyler Miles' departure drops UW down to 11 returning starters.

OVER ON DEFENSE, Washington State’s six returning starters were tough against the run as part of the 2014 stop corps. WSU allowed 145.7 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-12 last year.

Jeremiah Allison is the top returning tackler for WSU with 78 stops and 8.5 tackles for loss. Kache Palacio led the team with 6.5 sacks.

Worth noting, the early schedule looks to favor the Cougar D and new d-coordinator Alex Grinch. Washington State opens the season against three nonconference teams who collectively averaged just 24.1 ppg in 2014.

ONLY HALF of the Pac-12 teams return their QB starter: USC (Cody Kessler); Cal (Jared Goff); Arizona (Anu Solomon)’ Colorado (Sefu Liufau); Stanford (Kevin Hogan) and Utah (Travis Wilson).

Two others picked up three starts each last season for injured starters, including Washington State’s Luke Falk. (ASU’s Mike Bercovici is the other).

Falk completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,859 yards and 13 TDs in six games (three as a starter) last season.

WASHINGTON STATE’s River Cracraft is the fifth-leading returning receiver in the Pac-12 in 2015 (66 catches) despite playing in only nine games.

The prospectus tabs these half dozen as six to watch: Falk, Dahl, WR Gabe Marks, WR Dom Williams, DL Destiny Vaeao and Allison.

  • The 2015 Pac-12 Football Media Days will be held July 30-31 at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. Thursday’s events run from 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. On Friday, the schedule is 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

  • If you didn’t enjoy the Friday night Pac-12 title games, you’re in luck. The Pac-12 championship game will be held on a Saturday this year, Dec. 5, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. It will be televised on ESPN.

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