November 22, 2004

Cougars 2004: Three Questions

What went right?
1-A team that had very little returning experience from 2003 grew up a ton. Players that were young and untested like receivers Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus, running back Jerome Harrison and D-lineman Adam Braidwood, Mkristo Bruce, and Ropati Pitoitua gained valuable playing time. All six could be stars in 2005.
2-Both quarterbacks played well, at times. Josh Swogger had a fine start against New Mexico, but struggled against Colorado. He then spent the next few weeks looking over his shoulder. Alex Brink, who was exciting-if-not-effective early in the season had his best game as a Coug in the Apple Cup. Both finished with okay final numbers. Brink finished with a better percentage (50%-47.2%), but Swogger had the edge in touchdowns (13-7).
3-The team started well and finished well, with a disastrous October sandwiched in-between. Winning 2 out of the last 3 will help with recruiting and off season programs. The Cougars have a shot at starting quick out of the gate next year, with Idaho, Nevada and a Derek Anderson-less Oregon State team the first three games.

What went wrong?
1-The heralded offensive line, led by senior tackles Calvin Armstrong and Sam Lightbody never played up to expectations. Next year the line will be led by three interior returnees led by C Nick Milhauser, who never lived up to Coach Bill Doba’s preseason statement that he was “the best center in the Pac-10”.
2-The tight end spot was expected to be a bright spot, but neither Troy Bienemann or Cody Boyd ever clicked this year. Bienemann showed flashes of dominance when healthy, but Boyd seemed to regress after a strong freshman season in 2003.
3-The placekicking was a mess, as neither Loren Langley or Graham Siderius managed to hit 50% of field goal attempts. Kickoffs were routinely short as well, and the special teams were prone to stupid mistakes and bad coaching decisions.

What comes next?
1-Either Brink or Swogger has to take control of the QB position. Swogger shouldn’t lose the job due to injury, but the coaches, Doba especially, seem to have a lot more faith in Brink. Either way, somebody has to emerge as the Man.
2-Coordinator Mike Levenseller has to settle on an offensive identity for this team. While two returning quarterbacks and three quality receivers (Hill, Bumpus and Chris Jordan) might mean a traditional high-flying Wazzu team; in 2004 the Cougars did better running the ball and controlling the clock, even using a fullback and/or two tight ends.
3-Robb Akey, the Cougs defensive coordinator is rumored to be heading to Weber State to take control of his alma mater. If he leaves, Washington State loses a fine young coach and the team’s best motivator. Even worse, he could take QB Coach Timm Rosenbach to Ogden with him.

Posted by Frinklin at November 22, 2004 10:42 PM
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