Nov 13, 2010; Corvalis, OR, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Jeff Tuel (10) looks to pass against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-US PRESSWIRE

Pac-12 Conference Football Preview: Washington State Cougars (Part 1: Offense)


At the end of the 2011 season, the Washington State Cougars finished last in the Pac-12 North with an overall record of 4-8 and a conference record of 2-7. Washington State will look to improve their record in 2012 with four big televised games. Right now, the Cougars will have two non-conference games on ESPN (BYU and UNLV), one on the Pac-12 Network (Eastern Washington), and their game against Washington (Apple Cup) on either Fox or FX. Also, Washington State will play the Oregon Ducks on September 29th at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA (Home of the Seattle Seahawks).

Last season was not the worst season offensively for WSU. Here’s a look at the averages they had per game and their rankings compared to the other schools in Division I:

  • Total: 422.4 yards (33rd overall)
  • Passing: 342.0 yards (9th overall)
  • Rushing: 100.2 yards (111st overall)

Going into the 2012 season, it looks like rushing will need the most work from the Cougars. Last season, Washington State had two running backs splitting time in the backfield. However, this did not hurt their points per game numbers as they had 29.8 points per game (45th overall) in 2011.

The biggest thing going into the 2012 season for Washington State’s offense is their youth. They could have four sophomores making big plays in 2012 (one quarterback, one running back, and two wide receivers). Because of these sophomores, the school could see a lot of position battles this offseason.

The first possible position battle could be at the quarterback position. In 2011, Washington State had two quarterbacks that backed up their starter, Marshall Lobbestael. Those two back ups were Jeff Tuel (senior going into 2012) and Connor Halliday (sophomore going into 2012). During last season, Tuel played in three of WSU’s twelve games while Halliday played in four of their twelve games. Tuel finished the 2011 season with 276 passing yards on 29 completions with one touchdown while Halliday finished with 960 yards on 59 completions with nine touchdowns. Halliday also threw four interceptions.

It will be interesting to see what the team decides to do at the quarterback position. Jeff Tuel was supposed to be the starting quarterback in 2011, but injured his collarbone on the first series of the season. Will it be the veteran senior or their future starter after 2012?

Just like the quarterback position, there is going to be a similar position battle at running back between Carl Winston (senior going into 2012) and Rickey Galvin (sophomore going into 2012). In 2011, Winston rushed for 442 yards on 123 attempts and had four rushing touchdowns while Galvin rushed for 602 yards on 114 attempts and had five rushing touchdowns (one receiving touchdown).

Rushing is the one part of the Washington State offense that needs the most improvement. They have to give either Winston or Galvin the majority of the carries on offense. It showed in 2011 that the Cougars offense cannot rush to their potential if their running backs are splitting time in the backfield.

The same question can be asked for the quarterbacks and rushing backs: “Should Washington State go with the veteran or the future?”

More Key Offensive Players:

  • Bobby Ratliff (Sophomore wide receiver) – 348 receiving yards in 2011
  • Kristoff Williams (Sophomore wide receiver) – 134 receiving yards in 2011
  • Marquess Wilson (Junior wide receiver) – 1,388 receiving yards in 2011
  • Andrei Lintz (Senior tight end) – 96 receiving yards in 2011

For more stories on Washington State, check out “All Coug’d Up!”.

Check out my vlog The Onside Kick on YouTube and Facebook. The Onside Kick covers all the biggest stories in the NBA, NCAA Basketball, NFL, NCAA Football, NHL and MLB.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyWidmer.

Follow the Autzen Zoo on Twitter @Autzen_Zoo and like us on Facebook at Autzen_Zoo.

Upcoming Autzen Zoo Pac-12 Conference Football Previews:

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Andrei Lintz Bobby Ratliff Carl Winston Connor Halliday Jeff Tuel Kristoff Williams Marquess Wilson Marshall Lobbestael Offense Pac 12 Football Pac-12 Conference Rickey Galvin Washington State Washington State Cougars Washington State Cougars Football