2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR
was a tough year in Pullman. State has grown
accustomed to winning seasons and bowl games
- including three straight 10-win seasons
from 2001-2003 - so a 5-6 mark was a disappointment.
Four consecutive losses in the middle of
the season - three of them at home - ruined
their bowl chances, and the Cougars hadn't
lost two in a row since 2000. In the middle
of that losing streak, starting quarterback
Josh Swogger broke his ankle and was lost
for the season. Good programs can react
well to such adversity, so the jury is still
out on the resilience issue. Accordingly,
we are waiting for this year's results until
any trends here are confirmed. With so many
of the quality parts back, we expect a good
verdict to come forth.
this to be a better year, the defense has
to coordinate its efforts, a sure eventuality
with eight of the 11 have extensive starting
experienced. Using this advantage to cut
down on allowing big plays will be a huge
measuring stick. Watch the big plays come
down and the wins increase. On offense -
with two experienced quarterbacks, their
top (10) pass catchers, and an emerging
star at running back all returning - there's
good reason to think things will be truly
improved here, too. It all equals a better
team performance, so pick out your ball
now, Wazzu is likely going bowling.
schedule is set up nicely for Washington
State to start out 3-0 heading in Pac-10
Conference play, and the conference isn't
loaded, other than Southern Cal, of course.
State can easily improve its results as
only two Pac Ten teams make our top 25.
Only USC is a sure loss, so this will be
a good school to follow if you like to watch
this much potential simultaneously arch
for optimal results.
2005 record: 6-5
Alex Brink, 194-97-5, 1305 yds., 7 TD
Rushing: Jerome Harrison, 174 att.,
900 yds., 9 TD
Receiving: Jason Hill, 45 rec., 1007
yds., 12 TD
Scoring: Jason Hill, 12 TD, 72 pts.
Punting: Kyle Basler, 78 punts, 43.1
Kicking: Loren Langley, 5-11 FG,
30-32 PAT, 45 pts.
Tackles: Will Derting, 93 tot., 54
Sacks: Mkristo Bruce, 6.5 sacks
Interceptions: Alex Teems, 2 for
Kickoff Returns: Tyron Brackenridge,
14 ret., 22.2 avg., 0 TD
Punt Returns: Michael Bumpus, 34
ret., 11.5 avg., 2 TD
Chris Bruhn-RB, Calvin Armstrong-OT, Patrick
Afif-OG, Sam Lightbody-OT
Cook-DT, Pat Bennett-WLB, Karl Paymah-CB,
Jeremy Bohannon-SS, Hamza Abdullah-FS
There will be stiff competition for the starting
job, but not because the Cougars lack experience.
Josh Swogger started the first six games of 2004,
and played very well. With exceptional size and
a tremendous arm, Swogger threw 13 TDs and was
picked off just seven times before breaking a
bone in his ankle. That paved the way for Alex
Brink, who started the final five games. Brink
has better mobility than Swogger, and although
he didn't have the touchdown numbers of Swogger
(only seven), he was intercepted just five times,
and had a higher completion percentage. Swogger
has the inside track to the starting job because
of his maturity, plus the respect he has from
his teammates. He was voted a captain as a sophomore
in 2003. Brink earned a chance at the job with
his performance, though.
Jerome Harrison seized his initial opportunity,
finishing with 900 yards, despite starting just
five games. He's not very big, but he's got great
speed and quickness, along with the school's record
for most attempts in a game (42 for 247 yards
vs. UCLA, 11/6/04) to prove his durability. Kevin
McCall will be the other backup, if available.
He's bigger and more powerful than Harrison, but
has legal problems that have him presently suspended,
pending the outcome of the case. Jed Collins will
be the lead blocker when the Cougars use a FB.
A former linebacker, he combines his strength
with great hands, making him a pass-catching threat
foes cannot ignore. A pair of true freshmen -
Dwight Tardy and DeMaundray Woolridge - is expected
to contribute as Thompson has darted for the pro's.
The Cougars will improve after finishing 84th
in the country in rushing offense (128.0 yards
per game), and how much will speak volumes for
where the team can expect to finish. If they throw
to the RBs a bit more, defenses' ability to predict
the play-call will go down, improving this unit's
For years, the Cougars have depended on their
passing game to win. With two experienced quarterbacks
and their top six receivers from a year ago back,
State will once again be a pass-oriented team
(meaning about 50% of their plays are throws).
All-conference Jason Hill has developed into one
of the nation's top receivers, and is the Cougars'
main deep threat (22.4 per his 45 catches). Chris
Jordan gives the quarterbacks a bigger target
on the opposite side of Hill. Michael Bumpus was
a freshman all-American, and he'll work out of
the slot. Beyond the top three, Trandon Harvey,
Marty Martin and Greg Prator add depth that few
teams in the country can boast. All three caught
at least 10 passes in '04, and should see their
production increase. Hill accounted for more than
half of the TDs by this corps, so if they don't
spread the wealth, this dimension, too, will be
predictable, and therefore stoppable. Hill is
great, but without the others being role players,
his production won't be as impacting.
Troy Bienemann is another valuable weapon. Only
Hill and Bumpus caught more passes. Also a solid
blocker, Bienemann has started 32 of the Cougars'
last 34 games. Should something happen to Bienemann,
there are three quality backups in waiting. Cody
Boyd is the biggest target, and Jesse Taylor started
two games a year ago. Ben Woodard returns after
sitting out 2004 with an injury, so expect this
dimension to help stabilize the tackle situation
It's never easy replacing both tackles, but the
other three starters return. Bobby Byrd shifts
from left guard to the left tackle spot, and he's
got the height and quickness to excel there. Junior
Charles Harris, who started one game, is slotted
to start at right tackle. He, too, has great size.
Ex-track man Nick Mihlhauser is a third-year starter
who secures a strong (but svelte) inside presence
as their senior leader in the middle (C). Guard
Norvell Holmes sat out '03 (back), but returned
to have a solid 2004, starting seven times. The
left guard position is up for grabs, with Riley
Fitt-Chappell the early favorite. This crew has
to upgrade WSU's pass protection - 32 sacks allowed
are just too many for the offense to ever find
its feet. Easy games to start mean this crew will
gel by conference play.
Generally one of the nation's top offenses, Washington
State fell off last campaign. The Cougars' 25.0
points per game ranked them 58th in the country
(down from 31st). No doubt, losing Swogger affected
offensive flow, but the excuses will be poorly
received if they persist this time. Finding stability
at tackle will be crucial, but having nine starters
back, including Swogger, Brink and Harrison, is
great news. In addition, of the 14 players who
caught passes last year, 11 return. There is too
much experience for the Cougars not to show drastic
improvement. Once the QB remains the same from
week to week, then the other elements can learn
to revolve around whoever gets the nod, and then
small adjustments can actually mean more than
just trying to get back to "square one".
Harrison's health is vital.
STATE 2005 DEPTH CHART
Asuega-Stark-Sr / Jed Collins-So
Taylor-Jr / Cody Boyd-Jr
Cougar fans are happy here. DEs Mkristo Bruce
and Adam Braidwood started all 11 tilts. Both
have the size and speed that assures they will
again combine for at least 23 TFLs and three forced
fumbles - foes can't double-team both, eh. Ex-TE
Aaron Johnson will slide back inside. He is the
bull of the line, and a big reason why the Cougars
were decent against the run (39th nationally).
Johnson will line up next to ex-roundballer Ropati
Pitoitua, who started four games and is a great
pass rusher from his DT position. Cook will be
missed, but expect production in the middle to
be strong with the ends distracting the linemen.
The Cougars have a load of depth, but the inside
help isn't as big as the starters.
So, if you like the line, the triple-D LBs are
even better. Senior Will Derting is the star of
the defense. Entering his third year as a starter
in the middle, Derting is the D's biggest playmaker
and can stop the rush or the passer, as well as
defend the pass (dislocated wrist should be ready
by fall). Scott Davis also returns, and he's a
lot like Derting in that both lay the pass as
well as the run (though his four forced fumbles
beats Derting's two). Ex-RB Steve Dildine (4.4
speed) returns after starting four games, so his
upside is still/about to be seen to make this
one of the strong units in the land. The Cougars
are just as excited about their young linebackers.
Only Dildine stands over 6', so size issues with
big TEs will pose problems.
Only one starter is back from 2004, and that may
not be so bad. The Cougars were eighth in the
Pac-10 against the pass (86th nationally), so
cleaning house will be a good thing. Alex Teems
doesn't have great size, but his speed allows
him to stay with most receivers. The other cornerback
spot is open, and there are qualified candidates
galore so that depth exists. Both safety spots
will be taken by newcomers. Husain Abdullah will
succeed his amazing brother Hamza, so this lineage
gives promise to the outcome here. Eric Frampton
represents the youth that WSU's safety spots reflect,
as no starts have been punched by any. Look out
for upstart Nevada's (marginally) big passing
game early, but luckily the big throwers come
Four teams put 38 or more points on Wazzu, so
the scoring defense is the primary area of focus.
More than anything, it was big plays that hurt
them. Despite heavy losses in the secondary, there
are big-time playmakers remaining in all units.
The Cougars will definitely be strong at stopping
the run, so the maturation of the secondary will
determine the success of the entire team. Once
the run is stuffed, teams will immediately challenge
the secondary until it can prove its worth. 21
forced fumbles reflects the scrappy mentality
that already pervades, regardless, so the impetus
of spirit is there to rally around, it just has
to be tapped. WSU allowed foes a combined 89 first-quarter
points, and 92 in the fourth; this pattern shows
how State was initially out of many games, or
blew them late. With only three games decided
by more than one score (and only one of those
was a win), intangibles such as this can conceivably
swing multiple games their way. Stemming even
25% of the "big plays" would make what
presently seem like marginal efforts here into
STATE 2005 DEPTH CHART
Loren Langley had a career long of 45 yards in prep.
Now, the worry his 45% conversion rate sparks is only
trumped by how he went 1-of-3 from the 20-29 yard range.
Graham Siderius has a long of 54, and is also an ex-QB,
so his call for the start here is understood. Foes'
efforts here will again be held to under 20 per return.
Kyle Basler is entering his fourth year as the starter,
and he's one of the country's best (15th-rated). Basler
averaged 43+ yards per, but WSU's was blocked four times
altogether. Net results, too, were weaker than what
Basler's average should have produced, so just having
a good boot won't always cure Wazzu's field-position
woes. Expect better coverage as the D is loaded with
hungry back-seven candidates.
Michael Bumpus' punt return ability is part of what
made him a freshman all-American. He will come close
to 2004's 11+, and is good, too, for another two scores.
Tyron Brackenridge and Jerome Harrison are back to handle
the kickoff return duties. As good as Bumpus and Brackenridge
were, the Cougars will take a look at JUCO-transfer
(RB) Lorenzo Bursey.