3 reasons Cougs better in 2015 than in ‘14

ALL THE EVIDENCE isn’t in yet – we’re not even at the halfway point of fall camp – but the first nine days have been enough to convince us Washington State is going to be better than last year. Here are three reasons why.

1) Alex Grinch as the defensive coordinator.

Grinch has got the Cougar D believing in themselves in ways they did not last year. Grinch has let 'em know when he's been unhappy but there's been a whole lot of high-energy positive thinking going on in fall camp and this offseason under his watch -- and the Cougar stop corps has really responded to it. Also, as Paul Sorenson noted back in the spring and has become even more apparent in fall ball, as the secondary coach Grinch has been ultra-focused on technique -- and the difference is going to be noticeable on Saturdays in the fall.

2) Luke Falk is a great Air Raid fit

Record-setting QB Connor Halliday threw for a gazillion yards, but Luke Falk may be a more mellifluous fit for the Air Raid. Falk is more apt to fire at the open man on a short precision route, while Halliday wanted to go longer and into tighter windows. Falk’s leadership style is as understated as Halliday’s was swashbuckling, and the ’15 fall camp group has really responded to Falk’s style. Falk is also going to take what the defense gives ‘em more often -- Dave Yost nailed it back in November when he said Halliday never saw a pass he didn't think he could make, a throwing opportunity he wouldn't take. Falk will pass plenty, but he's far more apt to check to the run when the defensive alignment allows. Halliday wanted to win in the worst way, and looked to accomplish it by taking the team on his back. Falk wants to win just as badly, but doesn't believe he needs to do it on his own.

3) Overall team chemistry is the best it has been in Year 4

You heard it repeatedly at Pac-12 media day, and again at the start of fall camp. The overall team chemistry at Washington State is the best it has ever been since Mike Leach arrived – so say the coaches, so say the players, and so says what's unfolded over nine days on the fall camp practice field. Indeed, it’s taken longer than expected or hoped for. But sometimes getting everyone on the same page is a lengthy process when it comes to players in a program for five years and only one new class per year. What should have Cougar fans optimistic about the road ahead: the 2015 buy-in isn’t just readily apparent from the newcomers, but from the new upperclassmen now assuming the leadership roles, too.

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