Fargo’s Take Washington St. has declined in win totals in each of the last four seasons but that trend should reverse in 2006 if the Cougars show any sort of pulse on the defensive side of the ball. They had a very odd season last year as they went 1-7 in the Pac Ten with only one of those seven defeats being by more than four points.
#57 – Washington St. Cougars 4-7 SU; 5-5 ATS
They bring back 16 starters along with numerous players who got some good experience last season so experience will be a huge determining factor in what kind of season this will be. Head coach Bill Duba is one of the best in the country at implementing a pass-happy offensive attack but he needs a quarterback to throw the ball and one that can also scramble.itions are all over the field meaning the running game can’t work well as he neglected it the past two seasons. Washington St. finished last season 8th in the country in rushing offense but that will definitely need to improve if the Cougars are to have any sort of results.
Returning Starters on Offense – 5 Despite losing one of the best running backs in the country, the Cougars should still posses one of the best offenses in the nation. Jerome Harrison rushed for 1,900 yards and scored 16 touchdowns last season and his presence led to a spectacular season for quarterback Alex Brink. He threw for 2,891 yards and 24 touchdowns while completing 57.3 percent of his throws. He has one of the best receivers in the country returning in senior Jason Hill, who toyed around with leaving Washington St. but opted to stay with the Cougars. The Cougars will likely need to rely heavily on Harrison and Hill to control the clock and this season you can expect to see more of the latter rather than the former.
Returning Starters on Defense – 7 This is where the Cougars will have to shine if Duba is to become a winning coach.
- Washington St. finished with the top defense in the conference last season but all of the starters need to be replaced and therefore experience will be a huge area. The Cougars have five senior starters on the defense and Duba will be ordering up a strong unit that will be very experienced. The rushing defense was one of the worst in the conference last year, allowing 185.3 ypg and a rather tame 4.0 yards per carry. With that said, the Cougars were still very successful as they finished 14th in the Pac Ten in sacks. You have to give the credit to the rushing defense as before they went to pieces, the Cougars were giving up over 200 ypg.
- Schedule Washington St. does not have an easy schedule but it is on the easier side of things. Overall, there are seven home games with the other three being against Arizona St., USC and Cal. The rest of the non-conference schedule is difficult challenges that must be overcome. The Cougars open the season at home against Montana St. before traveling to Oregon to finish the season. They then return home to face a tough Arizona team before taking on a revenge-minded Utah team. The Pac Ten schedule starts off with a home game against Arizona, coming right after the game against the Rebels. The good news is that the Cougars won’t have to travel outside of conference in the season finale.
You can bet on…
The decline of the program is hard to stomach in Pullman as this team was in the Rose Bowl just five short years ago. Duba is just coaching his first season and he liking what he has so far. If the Cougars can upset some of the big names in the conference, like USC in the first game, there is a chance that Duba can reach the undefeated mark in his first term as coach.
- The Cougars have not had a winning season against the number in five years but with the level of competition they have faced so far, they should end up at the top of the Pac Ten. federally, Washington St. is the 2400th ranked team in the country in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
- The Cougars have been a very streaky team this season, going 3-7 ATS. They have been much better when favored at home, going 3-1-1 ATS. Duba will need to get his team “eliminated” if he wants to tie the school’s 1995 mark of 12-0. The interesting thing about Washington St.