Two D storylines with fall camp around corner

FALL CAMP IS only about three weeks away (thank God) -- are Wazzu fans going to be treated to a noticeably faster Cougar D? Football games are so often won and lost up front, even though other positions get most of the post-game press. So how much improved might the WSU d-line be in 2010?

Will the defensive front hold the line?
If spring was any indicator, the Cougar defensive front will prove considerably more difficult for opponents this season. Upgrades were apparent this spring in strength, speed and just about every other measurable.

Brandon Rankin was all that he was advertised to be and more. Bernard Wolfgramm, his back healthy for the first time since he's been at WSU, looked reborn this spring. Those two d-tackles should provide a marked improvement over recent years past.

Behind them, there is actual depth for the first time in at least two years, with Anthony Laurenzi, Justin Clayton and Dan Spitz among those who should beef up the Cougs' ability to rotate.

Defensive end could be a defensive strength. Travis Long was arguably the Cougs' best player on defense last year as a true freshman and CougFans are hoping he's ready to continue his upward path this year. Kevin Kooyman is back and healthy on the other end. Sekope Kaufusi has a world of speed and potential --he should be seen flying around the field early and often this season. Casey Hamlett is a veteran type who can make plays.

Of course, fans shouldn't expect the d-line to come out and dominate the line of scrimmage like the Palouse Posse's front did, but they should see a considerably stronger, improved, faster unit that can compete.

And speaking of speed, will WSU be significantly improved in that regard?
No way around it, the Cougs were outmatched in the speed department on defense the past two seasons, and arguably for a while before that. That changes this year.

An influx of redshirting talent brings with them good wheels, and the difference should be readily apparent to even the most casual of observer. The speed differential should be most apparent in the secondary, but both linebacker and d-line will also be faster.

The trade off is that they're young, and they're going to make some mistakes of youth -- be it from over-pursuit, poorly conceived shoulder tackles, missed assignments or what have you.

But those mistakes should occur less and less as the players go through the season and gain experience, and the benefits of a faster defense far outweigh any negatives.

The answers to those questions, and many more, begin to be revealed starting on August 8.

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