WSU Offensive Line: Fall Camp Preview

THE COUGARS are expected to have one of the larger offensive lines in college football this season -- the five projected starters average 310 pounds. But is bigger necessarily better?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

But this will be the first year Mike Leach has the size-athleticism combination on the offensive line he wants at Washington State.

Indeed, Leach wants (and needs) big 300-plus-pounders with great feet for his wide-split Air Raid system to fire on all cylinders. With everyone back and bigger, WSU's o-line should be the deciding factor in scoring more points to go along with all those yards the Cougs rack up.

All five starters return in '15, as do 17 of 18 o-linemen on scholarship in '14. (Sean Krepsz, a true freshman last season, was the only offseason departure).

The projected starters headed into fall camp are LT Joe Dahl (6-5, 310); LG Gunnar Eklund (6-7, 305); C Riley Sorenson (6-4, 319); RG Eduardo Middleton (6-5, 310, pictured above) and RT Cole Madison (6-5, 303).

Fifth-year senior G/T Jacob Seydel (6-6, 295) and fourth-year junior C/G Sam Flor (6-4, 309) also have starting experience. Center Carlos Freeman, who can also play guard, is a rising third-year sophomore. Is this the year third-year sophomore Cody O'Connell puts himself in the starting mix? Second-year freshman Andre Dillard may be a few more milkshakes away at 270 pounds, but Leach likes his feet.


ESPN and others this offseason insisted WSU was poor indeed when it came to sacks in '14. They're wrong.

Washington State attempted an NCAA-record 771 passes last year, allowing 36 sacks. The Cougs were No. 2 in the Pac-12 last year in sacks per attempt, allowing one sack once every 21.4 throws. Not only did UCLA, Arizona and ASU all give up more sacks than WSU, they did so attempting far fewer passes.

That understood, Washington State should be better still in '15 when it comes to sacks -- No. 1 in the conference in sacks per pass attempt is not an unreasonable goal to set.

And not only should the o-line be better in pass protection, the Cougs' starting QB, whether it's Luke Falk or Peyton Bender, are each more mobile than Connor Halliday.

More production on the ground? Indeed. WSU's o-line should open more lanes more frequently with all five starters back. Don't expect the Air Raid to become Ground Mike, but whether it's Falk or Bender, they're expected to check more to the run than last year when the defensive alignment calls for it.

But the offensive line is what makes everything go. And with everything WSU has coming back up front, all indications are that '15 will be an explosive year on offense at Washington State.

It is expected the incoming o-line class will all redshirt given the depth on hand but the two-deeps are not an impossibility when you consider 1) potential injuries and 2) a trio of true freshman o-linemen already check in at 300-plus pounds: Cedric Bigge-Duren (6-6, 308); Noah Osur-Myers (6-4, 321) and Amosa Sakira (6-2, 308).

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