Washington State football Coach Paul Wulff continues a youth movement designed to revitalize Cougar football.
Late Monday afternoon the depth chart for WSU's season opener with Stanford this coming Saturday held a few surprises. It appears that Coach Wulff will begin the year by making Cougar football history with his projected starters.
True freshmen rarely start at Washington State.
Specifically, there have only been 11 players starting opening day since freshman became eligible to play.
There has only been one instance of two true freshman starting a season opener for the Cougs. In 2004, Loren Langley opened the season as the place kicker and Ropati Pitoitua lined up at defensive tackle for the first game on the schedule.
Coach Wulff has two true freshman atop the depth chart and it's possible a third might start the game.
No surprise that Gino Simone will start at one receiver slot.
Simone has looked outstanding throughout fall camp. The top high school player in the state of Washington has more than lived up to his advance billing. He looked extremely sharp during a scrimmage last Friday.
The other true freshman listed No. 1 on the depth chart is Travis Long at defensive left end.
Long has surprised with quick, aggressive play. The young man from Gonzaga Prep in Spokane appears ready to accept the challenge of improving WSU's run defense. He'll be taking on the second best rushing attack in the Pac-10 last season in his first taste of Division I college football. Coupled with Kevin Kooyman at the other end, WSU will have speed coming from the outside. Will they have the strength to stop the outstanding running game of Stanford?
Though listed second on the depth chart at middle linebacker, Darren Markle has been taking a lot of snaps with the number 1's. Markle came into camp with an opportunity to earn playing time. As the top high school prospect coming out of Idaho, he has steadily improved with every practice. He may not start, but you can forget using a red shirt year for this talented student/athlete.
Yesterday Coach Wulff caught the media off guard by giving advance notice of his plans to rotate Kevin Lopina and Marshall Lobbestael at quarterback. Three true freshman listed high on the depth chart is a little unexpected for a coach who likes to see players benefit from a red shirt season coming out of high school.
Coach Wulff continues to do things his way.
The Washington State head man has implemented a plan to turn the Cougar football program around. He's doing things the situation calls for, not necessarily what matches his preferences.
Going with so many young, talented, inexperienced players is a far cry from what Coach Wulff would like to do. But to be competitive on the football field this season, he can't let his preferences dictate the decisions necessary to be competitive.
Starting the season against Stanford requires the Cougars hit the ground running.
When it comes to preferences, running might be the only one Coach Wulff will enjoy.
Tomorrow we'll hear the inside scoop from my colleague, who covers Stanford Cardinal football, Dave Fowkes. You'll definitely want to read what Dave has to say about what to expect from Stanford Saturday afternoon.
Check back here at Examiner.com for the complete Washington State depth chart for the Stanford game.
We're just days away from Cougar football.
Originally published on Examiner.com