WSU spring ball: A slight lead in the battle at center, Mike Leach weighs in on Frederick Mauigoa and Noah Osur-Myers

PULLMAN — Mike Leach has always had an affinity for his Cougar offensive linemen, he spent six seasons coaching the position as an assistant. So it's especially intriguing to hear Leach talk about the battle at center this spring between Frederick Mauigoa and Noah Osur-Myers to replace longtime starter Riley Sorenson in the middle of the Cougar offensive line.

For now, second-year sophomore Mauigoa (6-3, 305), Sorenson’s backup last year who saw action in four games, is the leading candidate over third-year sophomore Osur-Myers (6-4, 307).

But, according to Leach, nothing is certain.

“Right now, Fred’s ahead ... but we’ll see how it unfolds,” said Leach.

Osur-Myers was primarily listed on last season’s depth chart behind Eduardo Middleton at right guard. And center is obviously a different animal than any other position up front.

In full 11-on-11 “team sessions” so far this spring, the take here is that Mauigoa’s looked like the superior player so far, particularly in blocking for running plays, although he did have a few high snaps — two of which resulted in fumbles — at Tuesday afternoon’s practice.

Osur-Myers, o-line coach Clay McGuire told CF.C this winter, looked outstanding in winter workouts this offseason.  However, he has been usually been the one struggling this spring to get off clean snaps in WSU's shotgun formation.

On Day Six, Osur-Myers got some solo work in, working on his snaps to graduate assistants. From what I saw, most of the snaps were high and difficult to handle.  But Leach thinks it will come.

“He’s a lot better than he was three months ago,” Leach said of Osur-Myers. “It’s a little different from the standpoint that you can’t get off the ball (playing center instead of guard) and also you’re snapping . . . the snapping’s relatively easy but you’re also on the ball so you have get more depth quicker.”

Both candidates have had trouble blocking senior defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale (6-3, 297) one-on-one and in full team drills.

As for Leach’s assessment of the progress for the lineman?

“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,” he said.

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