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Alex Brink: Beware the Washington State running backs

COUGREAT ALEX BRINK says the Washington State football program hasn’t seen a window of opportunity like this in a while. For starters, few Pac-12 programs return their quarterback this season like the Cougs do with Heisman hopeful Luke Falk. But Brink is eyeing another position on the Cougar offense headed into the 2016 season.

Falk is key and is going to keep the game moving, Brink says. He expects Falk's passing numbers will no doubt be considerable with returning senior wideouts like Gabe Marks and River Cracraft combining with the rising youth in the receiver corps.

"Anytime you can return your signal caller, you’re in a good spot, obviously” Brink said.

However, what may surprise this season is both the play and depth at running back, Brink says.  Gerard Wicks, Jamal Morrow and Keith Harrington all return plus second-year freshman James Williams (pictured above) is now squarely in the game day conversation.  

Brink believes that whether it be in a pass or run situation, the 'backs will be relied upon heavily. When asked if the coaching staff might approach in-game situations differently given the strength at running back, and when and where they might tend to lean on the ground game, Brink points to the group as more of a matchup threat.

“There will be more reliance on our running backs in crucial situations, I think, plus just having those guys out there is going to add a whole new dynamic to the offense," said Brink.
 
The quarterback is the key to just about any offense but he's even more vital in the Air Raid given the sheer amount of passes.  Falk, a fourth-year junior, is arguably the best in the conference.  But having a strong No. 2 is a top priority, so to lose Peyton Bender felt like a blow. However, Brink says second-year freshman Tyler Hilinski after a solid spring session looks ready to take on that role.

“Bender... obviously (he's) getting a shot to start over with a clean slate and finding a place to play was enough," said Brink.
 
Brink says the WSU coaching staff has high expectations, but they're keeping the focus on fall camp.

“WSU is at a point where it’s not established in any means, however this year is going to be a good indication of where this program can go,” he said.

If Washington State plays to the level they're capable, Brink sees the 2016-17 season serving as a coming out party for the Cougs on the national stage.  Part and parcel of that includes the contributions on defense. We'll have Brink's thoughts on the Cougar D later this week.

NOTABLE NOTE:
WSU's running back trio of Wicks, Morrow and Harrington rushed for 1,195 yards on 197 touches this past season (6.1 ypc). The group also combined for 114 catches, 734 hashes and 7 TDs.

RELATED STORY: WSU tops ESPN Pac-12 offensive triplets rankings


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