The Washington State Cougars: Three Keys to Success

David HedlindAnalyst IIApril 26, 2009

PULLMAN - OCTOBER 21:  Running back Dwight Tardy #31 of the Washington State Cougars rushes against the Oregon Ducks on October 21, 2006 at Martin Stadium in Pullman Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

This is the second in a 10 part series about what I see as three points that will contribute to the success or needs to be fixed for the success of each PAC-10 team. I am posting in order, 10-1 from the 2008 season. Obviously there are going to be more than three things, but these things stood out to me.


Year 2 of Coach Paul Wulff

The off season hasn’t been easy for second year head coach Paul Wulff.

First there was the NCAA violation that came to air. They were at his previous school, Eastern Washington, but they are having an impact at his current job. In the fall he will not be allowed to coach the first three day of practice in the fall.

Next quarterback Marshall Loebbestael was picked up for being drunk in public and suspended from the team. He has been reinstated but is still unavailable for spring due to his recovery from knee surgery.

Speaking of surgery, Lobbestael wasn’t the only Cougar that had off season surgery. Around 25 players on the roster had to have some sort of surgery. This limits the spring participation of a lot of players. At the same time it gives more reps to some of the young guys that might have been buried on the depth chart.

So why be optimistic?

I figure with as bad as last season was in addition to such a bad off season, it cant get worse.

I also think that Wulff will get things turned around. Yes, his success at Easter Washington is now questionable, but I am willing to bet a lot of it still came because he can coach. Time will tell and year two is as good a time as any to get things moving.


Defensive Changes

Washington State gave up over 60 points four times in 2008. In two more games, the opponent scored 58 and 59 points.

I think it goes without saying that the defense was not very good.

It is pretty obvious that the defense needs some work if they want to have success in 2009.

A lot will be put on some new faces to bring a different look to the defense. Cal transfer Brandon Jones will be in the secondary and the line gets Bernard Wolfgramm from the junior college ranks.

I don’t know that one new player at each level of defense will make a huge impact but with what the Cougars gave up last season, it sure won’t hurt.


Dwight Tardy

Maybe it was the new offense that came in with Wulff, but for some reason Tardy’s numbers took a dive in 2008.

In 2006, Tardy gained 667 yards and scored four touchdowns.

In 2007, Tardy gained 676 yards and scored six touchdowns.

In 2008, Tardy only ran for 481 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Now I am no football coach or offensive genius but I think a slight alteration to the game plan would be in order if I looked at these numbers and were in a position to do something about it.

When you are rebuilding a team and overhauling a system you have to play to your strengths until you can establish what you want to do.

Tardy was a strength that wasn’t used correctly in 2008 and if he can regain his earlier career numbers the Cougars might see more wins in 2009.