Washington State football has a rich tradition of an offensive attack that moves the ball through the air. Ticking off the names of great quarterbacks who have flourished in Pullman can both surprise and impress.
A strong argument could be made that the fortunes of WSU football turned on Coach Jim Sweeney recruiting a strong-armed young man from Billings, Montana. Ty Paine blazed a trail for the likes of Jack Thompson, Mark Rypien, Timm Rosenbach, Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf, Jason Gesser, Alex Brink, and many, many more.
Coach Paul Wulff is putting his current roster through another workout this morning on Rogers Field. It should be a great day for spring practice. Clear skies and crisp air should provide a terrific setting for a small group of players trying to prove they should be the next name to be carrying the tradition of a tremendous passing game forward.
Instead of wondering who will emerge from spring practice as the likely starting quarterback for the Cougs this coming season, consider this.
Will the strength of Coach Wulff’s no huddle offense focus on picking up yardage through the air?
Coach Steve Broussard is in charge of what promises to be the deepest position on the WSU football roster, running back. While he was at Portland State, Coach Broussard was in charge of the running backs for one season. Result? The Vikings averaged 204 yards a game on the ground and led the Big Sky Conference along the way.
One glance at the WSU depth chart this spring suggests the Cougs will be able to run the ball this coming season. Take a look:
· Dwight Tardy, senior – As a redshirt freshman and sophomore, Tardy averaged nearly five yards a carry and racked up about 1,300 net yards and 10 TD’s. He’s raring to return this fall and go for 1,000+ on the ground
· Logwone Mitz, sophomore – Mitz was a redshirt freshman last year. He averaged 4.9 yards a carry and gained 441 net yards. His biggest run of the year was a 57 yard blast he took to the house in the Apple Cup.
· Marcus Richmond, junior – Richmond began last season at wide receiver, then returned to running back midway through the year. Marcus has both size and speed. Used sparingly his first two seasons after a year redshirting, this might be his year.
· James Montgomery, junior – After his redshirt freshman year at Cal, Montgomery took a long look at his future and made the decision to go crimson and gray. NCAA rules required that he sit out last season on the scout team, where he was named Offensive Player of the Year. He was rated the No. 14 running back in the nation by Rivals.com coming out of high school.
· Remy Martin, junior – Martin is a walk-on from Anchorage, Alaska after two seasons at Westhills College. He played on both sides of the ball at Westhills: running back, tight end, defensive line, and linebacker. Martin was All-State offensive player of the year his senior year of high school. Earning a spot in the running back rotation is his focus this spring.
· Chris Ivory, junior – Ivory has dropped to the bottom of the depth chart simply because he’s still recovering from a season-ending injury from the fifth game last year. Before the injury, Ivory was showing flashes of brilliance on special teams. He returned a kick 50 yards against Baylor and rambled 68 yards with a return against Cal. Ivory will be ready to challenge for a spot this summer.
· Chantz Staden, senior – Staden is also recovering from a knee injury he sustained in the Arizona State game last year. He transferred to WSU from De Anza College, where he was named All-Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year after racking up 2,123 all-purpose yards in 10 games. In spite of his injury, Staden led the Cougs in all-purpose yards last year with 1,218. He’ll be battling for the starting job at running back this summer.
There are two other notable names that haven’t made the depth chart yet. Incoming freshmen Arthur Burns of Corona, CA and Carl Winston of Harbor City, CA will join in the mix when fall camp begins later this summer. Both players enjoyed outstanding high school careers and look every bit the caliber of a Division I running back.
That’s an impressive group of student/athletes that will have offensive coordinator Coach Todd Sturdy possibly changing things up this fall. Could be that he’ll use pass plays to open up the running game instead of the other way around.
Coach Wulff and his staff are working hard this spring to turn Cougar football around from the disappointing record of last year. That process might include turning around the offensive attack.
One thing is certain.
Washington State football is changing for the better.
Originally published on Examiner.com