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August 22, 2013

PREVIEW: First team offense



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PULLMAN | With the season just over a week away, WazzuWatch.com takes a stab at projecting who Mike Leach will trot out on the field with the first team against Auburn. We begin by taking a look at the offense.

PROJECTED STARTERS


QUARTERBACK

Connor Halliday, 6-4, 190, RJr.

The presumed starter since the end of last season, Halliday, who threw for 1,874 yards, 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while splitting time last season, has seen the majority of the reps with the first team throughout the offseason. Praised by Leach for his improved leadership and decision making, Halliday has the experience and has shown a better grasp of what Leach wants to do on offense over redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca.

2012: 151-for-290, 52%, 1,847 yards, 15 TD, 13 INT

Depth: Austin Apodaca, Tyler Bruggman, Lucas Falk

RUNNING BACK

Teondray Caldwell, 5-8, 198, So.

Caldwell finds himself as the clear cut number one heading into his second season at Washington State after making three starts last year. Although Leach will rotate in several different guys at the position, Caldwell presents the biggest threat on the ground out of the Cougars backfield but also possesses quality hands in the passing game. Junior Marcus Mason has also seen time with the one's this fall and will be featured, as well.

2012: 56 carries, 296 yards, 4.8 YPC, 14 receptions, 37 yards

Depth: Marcus Mason, Jeremiah Laufasa, Gerard Wicks, Leon Brooks, Jamal Morrow, Theron West

X-WIDE RECEIVER

Dominique Williams, 6-2, 192, RSo.

On the deepest position group on the team, D. Williams projects as one of the top targets in the Cougars' Air Raid. Williams started the final five games of 2012 and appeared in 11 games as a redshirt freshman with mixed results. His length and ability to make the tough catch in coverage makes him a potential mismatch on the outside. Junior college transfer Vincent Mayle and Kristoff Williams are also battling for rotational time at the X-spot.

2012: 34 receptions, 536 yards, 3 TD, 16.1 YPC

Depth: Kristoff Williams, Vince Mayle

Y-WIDE RECEIVER

Bobby Ratliff, 6-2, 198, RJr.

This is a tough call and the starting job at Auburn could easily go to true freshman River Cracraft, who has had arguably the best fall of all the receivers, but Ratiliff is firmly situated within the offense. For that reason alone, I'd give the starting nod to Ratliff given he has the experience, making five starts last year and appearing in 11 games. Cracraft will be seeing a ton of snaps, though.

2012: 30 receptions, 399 yards, 13.3 YPC

Depth: River Cracraft, Robert Lewis

LEFT TACKLE

Gunnar Eklund, 6-7, 300, RSo.

An upstart walk-on who has quickly ascended the depth chart, Eklund is expected to be an anchor on an offensive line that had significant struggles in 2012. Leach has been vocal about Eklund's emergence as a leader on the offense since cracking the first team at left tackle last season seemingly out of nowhere. He missed the final three games of 2012 after making seven starts.

Depth: Devonte McLain, Riley Sorenson

LEFT GUARD

Joe Dahl, 6-4, 290, RSo.

Teaming with Eklund on the left side of the line is Dahl, another walk-on who forced his way into a starting job after an impressive spring. The Montana transfer has distanced himself and looked impressive in pass and run blocking. He brings a solid presence to, what should be, a much improved left side of the line.

Depth: Matt Goetz, Zach Brevick, Cody O'Connell

CENTER

Elliot Bosch, 6-4, 280, Sr.

The Cougars' MVP along the offensive line last year, Bosch was as steady as they come at center last season while starting all 12 games and earning All-Pac-12 honorable mention. The preferred walk-on continued to be a veteran presence and a rock in the middle throughout the offseason. Expect Bosch to have another solid season.

Depth: Zach Brevick, Carlos Freeman

RIGHT GUARD

John Fullington, 6-5, 301, Sr.

After a rather disappointing spring that saw him drop down to the second team, Fullington showed up in great shape for fall camp and took control of the right guard spot from day one. After bouncing around the line during his Cougars career, the senior looks to have found a comfortable spot on the right side. Goetz and Middleton will provide some experienced depth.

Depth: Eduardo Middleton, Matt Goetz

RIGHT TACKLE

Rico Forbes, 6-6, 300, RSr.

Finally one hundred percent healthy and playing to the potential that everyone expected when he arrived as a junior college transfer, Forbes is looking like a solid component on the right end. Forbes, who was the projected starter at right tackle last season before a season ending knee injury during fall camp, showed up this spring in solid shape and has thoroughly impressed.

Depth: Cole Madison, Jacob Seydel

H-WIDE RECEIVER

Brett Bartolone, 5-10, 187, So.

The Cougars' top returning receiver has been solid once again this fall and adds another dynamic threat to a deep core of wideouts. Bartolone saw action in all 12 games last season, starting nine of them and was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention as a true freshman. He is as steady as they come in the slot and will be counted on to have another big season at the H.

2012: 53 receptions, 434 yards, 4 TD

Depth: Rickey Galvin, John Thompson

Z-WIDE RECEIVER

Gabe Marks, 6-0, 176, So.

The vocal leader of the Cougars' receiving core looks primed for a big season after yet another impressive spring that saw Marks haul down everything thrown his way. Slated to be one of the go-to guys on offense, defenses will need to key on the speedy outside receiver who can be dangerous all over the field.

2012: 49 receptions, 560 yards, 2 TD

Depth: Isiah Myers, Vince Mayle




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