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What we’ve learned so far this spring: WSU offense

PULLMAN — After five practices this spring, it’s clear the offensive group at Washington State is just as advertised -- a highly athletic group. It's also a confident group, and particularly when it comes to one unit. Here’s what else I’ve noticed so far.

The Cougars will be just fine at quarterback. Heisman candidate senior QB Luke Falk (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) might have more weapons than ever this year. And if disaster should strike, sophomore Tyler Hilinksi (6-3, 217) has looked solid.

Indeed, since the pads have gone on, Hilinski has looked like a stud, scrambling away from pressure and making quick and precise passes against a focused, and athletic in its own right, Cougar defense.

If confidence translates to success, the Cougar running backs are in for a heckuva year.

Most observers assumed that the backfield trio of seniors Gerard Wicks (6-0, 228), Jamal Morrow (5-9, 200), and sophomore James Williams (5-11, 192, picture above) would be behind Falk for the majority of snaps. But junior back Keith Harrington (5-8, 194), has also shined in his practice reps, mostly catching passes and blocking from the backfield.

“All of us are studs,” said Williams.

Harrington takes it further.

“We have the best backfield in the nation,” said Harrington.

It's not only the running backs who have had something to say.

“We’ve got four great running backs, and any of them can play at any time,” says Falk.  “They’re coachable, they’re the best kind of players and teammates you’d want to have. Those guys are awesome.”

“They’re all pretty elusive backs,” senior safety Robert Taylor (5-10, 183) says of the four. “It’s hard to pinpoint one … they’re all good.”

From my chair, Isaiah Johnson-Mack and Kyle Sweet have stood out most through five practices at the outside and inside receiver positions, respectively. But the competition at receiver has been fierce, with Tavares Martin Jr., Kyrin Priester and Robert Lewis and Renard Bell among those who deserve early accolades.

“They’re really talented, all of them,” says Falk of the receivers.

The offensive line has been the biggest question mark for the WSU offense to this point. They’ve certainly had their moments, but consistency has remained elusive in the early going of the spring.

“They’re just getting a feel for each other,” says Falk about his protection.

“They’re doing good. I feel they’re coming along . . . we’re getting there,” says Harrington.

Williams is similarly confident. “I’m not worried about them too much,” he says.

Leach, however, is more circumspect. He’s been particularly displeased that the offensive line continues to jump offsides.

“That’s just sloppy,” says Leach.

Regarding the competition at center between sophomores Frederick Mauigoa (6-3, 305) and  Noah Osur-Myers (6-4, 307), Leach is still evaluating both, though he admitted that Mauigoa is considered the starter for now.

“Right now, Fred’s ahead . . .  but we’ll see how it unfolds,” says Leach, adding that, “we got some guys that haven't done it a ton that we’re gonna take a look at. They’re getting better all the time.”

As to what Osur-Myers can do to move up on the depth chart, Leach says that he mostly just needs more practice “cause he’s gotten a lot better,” before adding optimistically, “he’s a lot better than he was three months ago.”

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