By John Agovino, Associate College Football Editor
2009 SEASON IN REVIEW: After winning just two games in 2008, the fans of Washington State figured things would have to be better in coach Paul Wulff's second season, but unfortunately that was not the case.
The Cougars began their year with a 26-point setback to Stanford and an 18-
point loss to Hawaii. WSU was able to claw out a 30-27 win over SMU in its
third game of the year, but that would be the last time fans in Pullman would
have anything to celebrate about during the football season. Not only did the
Cougars drop their last nine games, and finish 0-9 in league play, but the
team lost most of those contests in ugly fashion. Washington State dropped
each of its last nine games by double figures, and was held under 10 points
five different times.
All in all the season for the Cougars was another nightmare, and if coach
Wulff wants to last in Pullman, he will need to improve on his 3-22 ledger
over the first two years.
OFFENSE: Not only were the Cougars the worst offensive team in the conference,
but they were one of the worst units in the entire nation, averaging an anemic
Things are not looking up for this season with only five starters returning,
but quarterback Jeff Tuel did gain some valuable experience last year and will
likely open 2010 as the team's starter.
"Of course we are very high on Jeff Tuel," said coach Wulff. "Jeff came in
this time last year about 190 pounds. He has put on about 20-25 pounds and is
a lot stronger. Jeff just came in last August and he really was thrown to the
wolves. His freshman marks were better than Drew Bledsoe's stats as a true
freshman at Washington State. That is the one guy recently who started as a
true freshman at quarterback. Heading into his second year at the quarterback
position, he is probably ahead of them all."
Jared Karstetter, who hauled in 38 passes and six scores a year ago will
likely be the top option for Tuel. Also look for sophomore Gino Simone to
become one of the better receivers in the conference.
The ground game, which tallied a pathetic 70.7 ypg a year ago, will need to do
much better if Tuel is going to have any success. As of now Chantz Staden and
Logwone Mitz will handle the running back duties, but coach Wulff believes
James Montgomery could actually make a return this year after suffering a very
"He has been running around and is really looking good. We think he will be
able to come back and play, which is a miracle to be honest," said coach
Wulff. "He had a combination of the compartment syndrome surgery and then
surgery on his other knee with mircrofracture surgery. Don't think he will be
in tip top shape at the beginning of the season, but he will grow into it."
Whoever is carrying the football will be running behind a veteran line, which
returns three starters.
DEFENSE: Just like the offense, the defense for Washington State finished last
in almost every major category in the Pac-10. The team surrendered 38.5 ppg
and 512.0 ypg which placed the team 118th and 120th in the nation,
The team does return five starters, and has plenty of players who gained
valuable experience last season, so the hope is that there is some
improvement. The most exciting player on the defense could be sophomore Travis
Long (4.5 sacks), who played every game last year at defensive end. Kevin
Kooyman will likely man the other end position, and believes him and his
teammates are prepared for the upcoming season.
"We are the hardest working group out there every Saturday," said Kooyman. "We
are just really excited about the season. All the players are passionate and
really proud to represent Washington State. Hard work beats talent any day, so
we are just ready and excited about this season."
At linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis returns to his spot after recording 84
tackles last season. Myron Beck and Louis Bland will likely be in the starting
lineup as well, and both players earned some playing time last season and
should do just fine in a regular role.
The only starter to return for the Cougars in the secondary is Chima
Nwachukwu, but the Cougars will get a boost from three players who missed last
year with injuries. Tyree Toomer tore his pectoral last season, while LeAndre
Daniels and Daniel Simmons suffered broken legs. All three players are back
for the 2010 campaign and should give WSU some quality depth in the secondary.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Considering how terrible the offense for Washington State was,
this past season it is important for the Cougars to have a strong punter.
Fortunately they do in Reid Forrest, who averaged 43.6 yards in 2009. Despite
a lack of opportunities, Nico Grasu will once again be the team's kicker.
OUTLOOK: Three wins over the last two seasons is never good, and unfortunately
for the fans in Pullman and the job security for coach Wulff, it does not look
like things are going to get much better in 2010. Sure, the Cougars do have
some talent on both sides of the ball, but they will clearly be overmatched in
Other than having to play Oklahoma State on the road, the non-conference
schedule is winnable with meetings against Montana and SMU. However,
playing on the road has been a problem for the Cougars, who have not won away
from home since defeating Washington to close out 2007. The Cougars should
improve on their one win from a year ago, but it would be shocking if
Washington State is .500 or better.