Stars may be aligning for WSU o-line, offense

WASHINGTON STATE has had just one offensive lineman taken in the NFL draft since 2006 (Zack Williams, 2011). That trend could be in for a change next April, with all five starters back for the Cougars’ 2015 campaign. The roster OL group as a whole should be one to watch, with all 18 scholarship OL from last year back in ‘15.

Mike Leach has spent the past three years not only stockpiling o-linemen with the skill set he wants, but also molding them size-wise. The Cougs should be among the bigger o-lines around this season. (If last year was any indication, WSU should be among the biggest in the Pac-12, and top 25 nationally).

In Leach’s first year, there were just two starters over 300-pounds and the unit averaged 293-pounds. Now, all five starters listed on the 2015 spring depth chart weigh over 300-pounds, with the unit averaging 310-pounds: LT Joe Dahl (6-4, 302); LG Gunnar Eklund (6-7, 308); C Riley Sorenson (6-4, 300, pictured above); RG Eduardo Middleton (6-5, 315); RT Cole Madison (6-5, 303).

Heading into the season, ESPN earlier today pegged WSU’s o-line as being in “good shape." But they said they were reluctant to put them in their “great shape” category, along with Oregon and Stanford, until WSU proves they can push people around in the run game this season.

WSU is expected to run more in 2015, with Cougar QBs going under center as much as 25 percent of the time. The two running backs from a year ago (Gerard Wicks, Jamal Morrow) will be third-year sophomores, and slippery second-year freshman Keith Harrington will play on Saturdays this year.

There might be another factor, something that could work in favor of the WSU offense: Pac-12 defensive lines have a lot to prove this season, says ESPN.

ESPN did not select a single defensive line from the Pac-12 North, and only two from the Pac-12 South (UCLA, Utah) as being in “great shape” heading into '15. They also pegged but one Pac-12 North d-line (Oregon) as being in “good shape.”

If the Pac-12 defensive fronts are in for an off year collectively, if the pressure brought to bear is less than normally seen, what kind of year might be in store for Washington State on offense under Leach?

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