COMMENTARY: WSU’s Sweet was always going to shine

ONE OF THE least talked about storylines headed into WSU-UCLA: true freshman slot receiver Kyle Sweet. Bill Moos on the radio this week said starting Y River Cracraft’s status was unknown, and Sweet was his primary replacement after Cracraft came off the field vs. ASU. But whether he starts today or not our take remains the same: Sweet was always going to make an impact over the final stretch.

It was a surprise to many when Sweet was activated in Week Four against Cal. The Cougars have a plethora of wideouts, slot and otherwise, and it was assumed when Sweet didn’t play in the non conference slate that he was ticketed for a redshirt.

But Sweet had a good fall camp. And each week in practice once the season began, he looked more and more comfortable. Indeed, he was tearing it up when placed on the scout team and going against the No. 1 defense.  

By the time the conference slate rolled around, Mike Leach had seen enough. This isn’t an exact quote but Leach, after watching Sweet once again give the WSU defense fits, said during a Cal week practice; ‘That’s enough.  Play him.’ Sweet has played in every WSU game since, all conference tilts.

When Cracraft came off the field early against ASU, Sweet in turn saw his most extensive playing time yet.  He finished the game as WSU’s leading receiver, with seven grabs. For inside receivers coach Dave Yost, it must have felt a lot like having Cracraft out there.

Before the ASU game, the thought from this chair was that Sweet would see ever increasing time at the H with Robert Lewis over the season’s home stretch. But if Cracraft can’t go Saturday night in Pasadena (7:45 p.m., ESPN)  Sweet appears likely to get the start at the Y given what happened last week in the win over ASU.  

Neither Sweet nor Cracraft had another Pac-12 offer coming out of high school – WSU was the only one to put a scholie on the table (Scout.com, however, rated both three stars). WSU’s area recruiter for both was running backs coach Jim Mastro.

They were teammates at Santa Margarita High and their strong friendship played a role in Sweet committing on the spot when Mastro extended Leach’s offer. They are very similar players in what they can do and the problems they can cause defenses.  Cracraft has already had nearly three seasons to show Cougar fans he has stellar hands, Sweet is just starting on that quest.  Sweet, as noted in the related story below, may actually have a touch more top end speed when gliding in the open field.

Cracraft has also had quite possibly the quietest 48 catches through nine games ever. He’s on virtually the same exact pace as last season (66 rec., 771 yards) but it feels different, it’s also not getting the same fanfare or media attention -- probably because so many of his grabs in 2014 came in moving the chains on third down. 

If Cracraft can’t go against the Bruins, that’s a loss for the Cougs. Sweet is highly capable of minimizing that loss -- capable and doing are two different things, and Sweet is but a true freshman. But don't bet against him.

And before WSU’s final three regular season games (plus the expected bowl game) are in the books, our take is the Cougar Faithful will have a definitive answer to the question posed in our headline announcing Sweet’s verbal commitment.  So too are the rest of the Pac-12 coaches.

Related Story: BREAKING: Did WSU land a huge steal in Sweet?


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