Cougar Nation has more reason to believe Coach Paul Wulff has the WSU football program moving in the right direction.
Louis Bland, freshman linebacker, was named to Phil Steele's Freshman All-America Third Team. Bland had an excellent season despite getting off to a slow start with foot strain.
Bland played bigger than his physical size, 6' and 205 pounds, logging playing time in 12 out of the Cougs 13 games. He started the final 9 games of the season.
Of all his stats, one really jumps out at you. Bland was credited with 55 tackles, nearly 5 a game. No, that's not extraordinary. Nine, count 'em, nine of those tackles were for a loss. Those numbers would be impressive for any linebacker, but when you find out that was the performance of a freshman it's huge.
If you were to ask Bland what play stands out for him, it would probably be his one interception against Oregon State that he took 16 yards to the house.
He put together a couple nice games back-to-back. Against Arizona, Bland tallied his season high of nine tackles which was followed up with another eight against Arizona State.
Here's the clincher on the progress Bland made over the course of the season and his prominent place on defense in the coming years.
In the biggest game of the season, the 2008 Apple Cup, Bland had seven tackles, five of which were solo. Three of those tackles were for a loss. He also was credited with a pass breakup. It was overtime where Bland truly shined.
Playing within the defensive scheme called by Coach Ball, he stopped Husky drives in both the first and second overtime with tackles for two-yard losses. The stop he made in the second overtime led to a missed field goal by the Dawgs and sealed the win for Washington State.
One other small detail about this talented freshman. Bland started on all four special team units.
Make no mistake, Louis Bland is one of the reasons the WSU football program is going in the right direction.