Sturdy: O in position to legitimately compete

IT SEEMS JUST about everyone these days is projecting the Cougs will, akin to what they went through in 2009, experience a rough-as-sandpaper year out on the football field in 2010. The WSU coaching staff, however, is singing a different tune.

Offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy acknowledges plenty of work remains on offense before WSU is really and truly back. But headed into the summer months, coming off spring ball, he saw enough to let him know 2009 is far removed in the rear view mirror.

"I think we're in a position to legitimately compete," said Sturdy. "We're still thin in depth, as we're still building this thing. But I think we're going to be in position to compete at a high level."

And that's primarily due to one thing -- execution.

Now, to be clear, Washington State this spring didn't execute consistently enough on offense to satisfy Sturdy. But they're also miles further along than they were these past two seasons. A play this spring serves as microcosm..

AT ONE POINT in the spring game, the Cougs ran a screen play to Logwone Mitz. Most fans who were in attendance will remember Mitz turning on the jets and racing down the sideline into the end zone. Sturdy, instead, points to the blocking on the play.

The linemen got downfield and laid out some picture perfect blocks.

Two wide receivers -- Daniel Blackledge and Jeffrey Solomon -- were integral to the score in holding their blocks long enough for Mitz to reach paydirt.

STURDY DIDN'T WANT to try and predict how many wins it translates into this season, but he said every offensive unit has made strides and that includes the most visible position on the team -- quarterback.

"I thought Jeff Tuel had the chance and developed at a very high level this spring. And I though Marshall Lobbestael () got better. I'm proud of those guys for that," said Sturdy.

ONE AREA SINGLED out for improvement this spring at quarterback was to consistently make good decisions -- and sometimes that means throwing it away rather than try to fit into small windows the hero pass.

"They did a really good job of taking care of the football -- Jeff did a nice job with that, they both did," said Sturdy.

SOME HAVE WONDERED this offseason if Paul Wulff and Sturdy might do what Mike Price did at times with his quarterbacks -- give the backup a series or two in the second quarter. Don't count on it, said Sturdy. There are no plans to set up a rotation at the QB spot between the starter, Tuel, and the backup, Lobbestael.

But if the last couple of seasons have taught the players anything, it's that injuries happen in an instant.

"They both have to be ready. All they have to do is look at the past two years," said Sturdy.

ONE OF THE other spring goals was to find a legit No. 3 behind Tuel and Lobbestael, with David Gilbertson getting an opportunity to lay claim to the role. But it didn't materialize, and that job remains unsettled between he and Dan Wagner.

"I don't think we're in a position to know where we're going with that yet. I'm happy with David and his progress, but he also has a long way to go...We want him to be a guy that's going to do that for us. He's well on his way to doing that, but it is a process. And I think he's going to have all the opportunities in the world to be that guy," said Sturdy.

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