Will Derting, All-America candidate of the Washington State Cougars. A first team All-Pac-10 selection, Derting is on the Butkus Award watchlist; emblematic of the Nation's best linebacker. (Getty/Andy Lyons)
Star Power: LB Will Derting, 6-0 237 junior; OT Calvin Armstrong, 6-7 311 senior; RB Chris Bruhn, 6-3 215 senior; DE Adam Braidwood, 6-5 264 junior; OT Sam Lightbody, 6-9 319 senior; TE Troy Bienemann, 6-5 252 junior
Notable Additions: WR Michael Bumpus, 6-0 190 freshman, Culver City HS, CA; WR Greg Prator, 6-3 200 junior; WR Tramaine Murray, 5-10 172 junior, OL Andy Roof, 6-4 305, East Valley HS, Spokane,WA; RB Jerome Harrison, 5-11 190 junior; CB Tyron Brackenridge, 5-11 180 junior, LB Jed Collins, 6-2 231 freshman, Mission Viejo HS, CA
Notable Subtractions: S Erik Coleman, DE D.D. Acholonu, CB Jason David, QB Matt Kegel, WR Devard Darling, OL Josh Parrish; all with NFL teams. LB Don Jackson; graduated.
Notable Returnees: QB Josh Swogger, 6-5 238 sophomore; CB Karl Paymah, 6-0 200 senior; DT Steve Cook, 6-3 293 senior; LB Scott Davis, 5-10 225 sophomore; C Nick Mihlhauser, 6-3 287 junior; OL Riley Fitt-Chappell, 6-6 314 junior; P Kyle Basler, 6-3 235 junior
|2004 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE|
|09/11/04||Colorado (Qwest Field in Seattle)|
The running game holds considerable promise. With a year of seasoning and now *healthy, Chris Bruhn's speed and power should pay dividends. Allen Thompson has shown glimpses of talent, but injuries have curtailed career to date. JUCO transfer Jerome Harrison and Kevin McCall each have the skills to earn quality time. The last ten years the Cougs have been remarkably balanced; they've actually run more than they've thrown it. That trend should continue in 2004.
Josh Swogger displayed both flashes of brilliance and inconsistency in '03. Fearless in the pocket, he has a cannon, great feet and moves exceedingly well for a man his size. Alex Brink pushed Swogger this Spring; the freshman looks capable if called upon.. but Swogger is only the second sophomore in program history to be named a team captain. He enters Fall camp as the No. 1.
Wide receiver has question marks headed into camp. A breakout performer as a true freshman, Chris Jordan is coming off a torn ACL. Jason Hill, a phenomenal athlete, lines up at SE while Marty Martin's terrific Spring earns him the slot. Greg Prator and Tramaine Murray should both earn significant time along with quick, elusive Trandon Harvey. Thomas Ostrander lends needed depth. Troy Bienemann and Cody Boyd are among the top TEs in the conference. Jesse Taylor and O'Connor could also be prominently featured at tight end.
Defensive Overview: The defense loses nine starters.. yet a veteran unit remains. Will Derting, one of the best linebackers in the nation, moves to MLB. Scott Davis and Pat Bennett man the outside; both have considerable experience. Bennett begins his senior season having seen action in 35 games for the Cougs. Davis was tearing it up before injuries slowed him the final third of '03. Steve Dildine and Brian Hall are both making very strong bids to be key players on a formidable linebacking corps.
Defensive end is deep; Adam Braidwood and Mkristo Bruce the starters. Matt Mullenix, Paul Stevens, pass rushing specialist Reyshawn Bobo and Adam West could all see significant time in rotation. Depth at Defensive tackle is a concern. Steve Cook is a force but will need to stay healthy. Ropati Pitoitua will have to gain experience fast if the Cougs are going to get the necessary push and clog up the middle. Aaron Johnson, Odell Howard could be part of a rotation with Pitoitua; All will have to excel if the Cougs are going to be effective up front.
CB Karl Paymah played lights out for most of 2003; he has the ability to be a lock down, All Pac-10 corner. A very strong Spring earned Alex Teems the start on the opposite island. Hamza Abdullah and Jeremy Bohannon move into starting roles at Safety after playing in crunch time throughout the past two seasons; together they have 66 games of experience all told. Don Turner, Omowale Dada, JC transfer Tyron Brackenridge, Husain Abdullah, Eric Frampton and Christian Bass all have the potential for plenty of minutes in various packages.
Special Teams Overview: Murray will return both punts and kickoffs; the JUCO transfer benefiting from last year's redshirt season. Kyle Basler returns and is among the top punters in the nation. Graham Siderius adds placekicking to his kickoff duties; has a huge leg but needs to become more consistent. Boyd stretched his 6-8 frame to block three kicks last year and Dada was always around the ball. The Cougs' coverage teams improved markedly throughout 2003; ST and RB coach Kelly Skipper again has at his disposal a number of hats who will fly to the football.
The Cougars go bowling for the fourth straight year if... the defensive tackles perform and the running game hits its stride early. Defensive coordinator Robb Akey likes to rotate.. and attack. But the personnel must perform before he turns them loose. The unit to date has shown both the swagger and talent to win games by smacking their opponent in the mouth. Offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller's unit must limit penalties; which plagued the '03 squad. The line should better open holes and give Swogger time; the talent is in place to do both. Swogger and the wideouts should find their groove early with a more consistent running attack. (*Bruhn played the entire season with a hernia last year.) A strong start is important; early schedule sets up favorably and Cougs get some tough opponents at home. Led by Hamza Abdullah and others, nearly every scholarship player and key walk-on stayed in Pullman over the summer to work out as a team.
|TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview|
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