OPINION: Cougs from A to Z

PULLMAN -- Midway through fall camp, it's time to review your 2007 Cougar Football Primer -- one correspondent's opinions on everything you need to know about Washington State's prospects for success, from A to Z. A is for Away. WSU's gaggle of newcomers better toughen up in a hurry because four of the first five games are away from Pullman.

B is for Bumpus -- if he stays healthy, senior wideout Michael Bumpus is a lock to break school records for catches in a season (72, Nakoa McElrath) and career (176, Hugh Campbell).

C is for Collapse -- far fewer fans would be chirping about potential coaching changes and whatnot if the Cougars had won just one of their final three games last year to go to a bowl game.

D is for Defense -- can the Cougars win with so little experience in the secondary? After all, WSU gave up 109 points in the 0-3 finish a year ago with senior standouts like Mkristo Bruce and Eric Frampton.

E is for Enormous -- offensive tackle Vaughn Lesuma checks in at 6-foot-5 and 329 pounds. Pass the gravy, momma.

F is for Far-fetched -- admire him for his optimism, but when Bumpus talks about going undefeated, he must not have noticed that little road trip to No. 1 USC.

G is for Gibson -- Brandon Gibson is destined to set single-season school records for touchdown catches (13, Jason Hill) and receiving yards (1,163, McElrath). If not in '07, then in '08.

H is for Halftime -- if the Cougars can keep it close for a half, their high-powered passing attack gives them a shot at knocking off No. 7 Wisconsin in the opener. Not a great shot, but a shot.

I is for Intimidation -- when 6-8, 291-pound Ropati Pitoitua and 6-7, 317-pound Aaron Johnson line up on defense, opposing linemen have got to be thinking there's an easier way to get a free education.

J is for Jack -- scouting services don't know jack about WSU's recruits, which helps the Cougars sneak in and steal kids like hot-shot freshmen Jeshua Anderson and Chima Nwachukwu.

K is for Kicker -- Romeen Abdollmohammadi has attempted four field goals in his life, and the first came five years ago at Stanwood High School, where he was mainly a soccer player.

L is for Losing -- the Cougars have won just eight Pac-10 games the past three years. The previous three years, they won 19.

M is for Maligned -- WSU's inexperienced offensive line will come under heavy scrutiny the first half of the season.

N is for Nada -- the Cougars have not won a conference championship outright since 1930 (WSU tied for first in 1997 and 2001).

O is for Oh my -- the Cougars are 8-54-4 all-time against USC, including 4-36-2 in Los Angeles.

P is for Passing -- WSU has led the Pac-10 in passing a league-high five times since 1989. Don't be surprised if they do so again in 2007.

Q is for Quarterback -- Alex Brink will wind up with more career passing yards in college than John Elway, Joe Montana, Drew Bledsoe, Jack Thompson, Ryan Leaf, et al. Who woulda thunk it?

R is for Rebound -- the Cougars are trying to avoid their first four-year stretch of non-winning seasons since 1973-76.

S is for Service -- Head coach Bill Doba came to WSU as part of Mike Price's first Cougar coaching staff in 1989. Another so-so year might cost Doba a 20th anniversary celebration next year.

T is for Tight -- 16 of WSU's 34 games have been decided by seven points or less the past three seasons. The Cougars are 7-9 in those contests.

U is for Underdog -- four of WSU's opponents cracked the preseason Top 25 in the coaches poll, and the Cougars came in eighth in the Pac-10 media poll.

V is for Victory -- the Cougars should be prohibitive favorites in at least one game, since woeful Idaho has lost six straight to WSU and 20 of the last 22 meetings.

W is for What's up? -- WSU has played Washington 99 times since 1900 and has never won three straight over the Huskies. How is that possible?

X is for the X factor -- the development, or lack thereof, of cornerbacks Devin Giles and Nwachukwu could be the key to the season. Neither has played a down of college football.

Y is for Ya gotta be kidding -- safeties coach Leon Burtnett has coached at 11 colleges, including WSU twice and once as head coach at Purdue. He also was offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts.

Z is for Zebras -- did the FBI ever track down those missing seconds at the end of the 1998 Rose Bowl? You have to wonder how WSU's first Rose Bowl win since 1916 might have impacted the program.

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