Two of the O storylines w/ fall camp looming

THE START OF Washington State's fall camp is only a little over three weeks away -- long debated crimson storylines galore will be authored beginning on Aug. 8. Here's just a few of the more compelling angles on offense headed into the Cougs' fall camp...

Will the offensive line under new coach Steve Morton get it done?
This is arguably the biggest lynchpin to success and at least one thing is for sure, they'll at least look more the part this year. In '09, injuries so devastated the o-line a 260-pound freshman became the starting left tackle -- that tells you all you need to know about 2009.

Perusing the depth chart and picking a potential starting five this year headed into fall camp, most combinations average about 302-305 pounds, with only one would-be starter under 300 pounds, at around 280-290.

Wazzu's tackle play figures to be considerably more solid than a year ago, with newcomers Wade Jacobson and David Gonzales both having solid springs and steady Micah Hannam back for his senior campaign. Tyson Pencer, a monstrous 6-7, 317, is highly regarded by the WSU coaches and Alex Reitnouer, for whom it was trial by fire in '09, figures to be a much more viable 275-285 pounds this season.

Inside on the line, Zack Williams, if he can stay healthy, could be a true Pac-10 mauler, and B.J. Guerra, who can and should be a bulldozer in cleats this season as a fourth year, rock solid 315-pound junior, has all the tools. Center Andrew Roxas also is well capable of sterling Pac-10 play, as evidenced by his dominating turn against UCLA as a true frosh.

But the Cougs don't have a lot of proven depth on the line, especially inside, and staying healthy is key to success. The other big factor -- how Morton's influence will unfold his first year. The Cougs need him to work some early magic, and not only the long term kind.

Who will earn the starting running back job, or will it be a group approach?
Chantz Staden had a very good spring, but no one player stepped up and definitively grabbed the job in the spring. Marcus Richmond looked better than he's ever looked this spring but then got dinged up. Carl Winston also suffered through some injury woes. Logwone Mitz ran hard, but sat out a few days as well.

James Montgomery will return to the field in fall camp. It's not a stretch to say it's a miracle he's even playing, and his work ethic has been something to behold. The real question with him is will he be the same kind of back, with the same kind of moves and explosion, that he was before the injury. We'll start to find out next month.

The other one to watch is freshman Rickey Galvin. But is it a lot to ask to expect a true freshman to not only be ready to play in the Pac-10, but to excel beyond a group of juniors and seniors?

On its face, a group approach sounds good -- you bring in Mitz to pound away, bring in Staden and Richmond to get some yards gliding through the 3-hole, have Winston swing out wide, and on and on, with different players doing different things and keeping a defense off balance.

But running backs often need to find a groove, and that's one of several reasons you don't see a successful group approach all that often. The best scenario for WSU, from this vantage point, is for one guy to stand apart and claim the job. And the remaining players to still make their mark when their touches come.

The answers to these questions -- and many more -- begin to surface on August 8, just over three weeks away.


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