The Good, The Bad and The Questions: OL

THERE HAVE BEEN indications this offseason the Wazzu o-line under new coach Steve Morton will perform significantly better than the unit did in '09. Still, questions persist, further work remains and fall camp position battles have yet to be fully waged. In CF.C's ongoing series leading to the start of camp Aug. 8, we wrap up on the offensive side of the ball and today analyze the offensive line.

The Good:
WSU for the first time in three years truly has some competition up front on the line, across the line.

Injuries are fewer than they have been at any time since Paul Wulff arrived.

WSU has gotten tangibly stronger on the line (and across the board) as a result of the revamped strength and nutrition program put in place two years ago.

New line coach Steve Morton has a wealth of o-line experience and knowledge, and has shown the ability to produce early, initial improvement in his first year.

The expected starters look to be junior and seniors.

The middle of the line, with expected starters B.J. Guerra and Zack Williams at guard, along with Andrew Roxas at center, could be a strength.

David Gonzales and Wade Jacobson, both transferring in from junior college this past January, impressed in spring ball.

Alex Reitnouer, forced into duty last year despite weighing about 260 pounds, has packed on a good deal of size and muscle and should be better suited for the Pac-10 pounding.

The Bad:
While there is competition and some depth for the first time in three years, it's not ultra deep and WSU must stay healthy or players not quite ready might again be forced into starting duty. The Cougs did not consistently play well as a unit in '09 – and many of the times that four were assignment perfect, one still was not, and the result was virtually the same as when two or more players got beat. Until WSU shows they can at least run somewhat effectively against a stacked box, and can handle the double A-gap blitz on pass attempts, opponents will simply continue to send blitzers without concern for getting beat – and so WSU must take advantage, either on a running play or strike though the air. WSU has not, consistently and uniformly, played with proper pad level the last two years up front. When the o-line did some good things and did produce a lengthy drive in ‘09, they, ultimately, were stopped short of bulling their way into the end zone.

The Questions:
Will tackle Tyson Pencer – whom the coaches believe can be special -- stay healthy, and turn the corner during his redshirt sophomore season?

Will the starting unit stay relatively healthy?

Which two claim the two starting tackle jobs – Hannam, Gonzales, Jacobson, Pencer, Reitnouer?

Will WSU be able to effectively run behind the guards and center, as many are thinking they might?

Have some of the younger players, such as Sebastian Valenzuela, Tim Hodgdon, and William Prescott had productive summers and will they now show they are ready to capably contribute in 2010?

Will the line cap off drives, plowing the road into the end zone?

Will John Fullington (and potentially Jake Rodgers [TE/OL]) both redshirt?

Can WSU protect the quarterback?


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