Washington State Cougars
Head coach: Mike Leach (eighth year)
Last year’s record: 11-2 (7-2 Pac-12), Alamo Bowl win against Iowa State, 28-26
Final AP ranking: No. 10
Recruiting Ranking: No. 65 (0 5-stars, 0 4-stars, 20 3-stars)
First game: Aug. 31 against New Mexico State (futures available on BetAmerica)
O/U win total: 8
In his seventh year as head coach at Washington State in 2019, Mike Leach achieved his best season yet. Part of the team’s success is credited to East Carolina transfer Gardner Minshew, who came into Pullman and threw for 4,779 yards and 38 touchdowns.
Minshew moved on to the NFL in the offseason, so Leach could be leaning on a new quarterback transfer to help sustain Washington State’s success. In 2019 Gage Gubrud of Eastern Washington will suit up for the school he helped defeat 45-42 back in 2016. That season Gubrud went on to throw 5,160 yards and 48 TDs for Eastern Washington and was named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the most outstanding offensive player in the FCS.
Should Gubrud start in the fall, he will inherit an experienced receiving corps that features senior Dezmon Patmon (816 yards, five TDs last season) and juniors Tay Martin (685 yards, eight TDs) and Easop Winston (654 yards, eight TDs).
The run game will suffer a loss in leading rusher James Williams (1,173 all-purpose yards, 16 TDs), who left for the NFL after his junior year. Sophomore Max Borghi (740 all-purpose yards, 12 TDs) should be capable of stepping up as lead back, while 3-star recruit Jouvensly Bazile has potential to develop into a solid option as well.
Last year’s stellar offensive line will bring back four starters but lost offensive tackle Andre Dillard, who was selected as the No. 22 overall pick in the NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Washington State must replace even more talent on defense, including linebacker Peyton Pelluer (97 total tackles, 4 1/2 sacks), defensive back Hunter Dale (58 tackles), cornerback Darrien Molton and defensive end Logan Tago. One bright spot will be the addition of nose tackle Lamonte McDougle, who is eligible to play in 2019 after a transfer from West Virginia at the end of 2017. In his lone season with the Mountaineers, McDougle earned freshman All-American honors and racked up 23 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Win total: Under 8 (+100), Over 8 (-120)
Wazzu set a school record with 11 victories last season. It’s unlikely the Cougars will meet that win total in 2019 with the schedule they’ve been handed. Road games at Utah, Arizona State, Oregon and Cal all in the stretch of a little more than a month should wear on the Cougars. They have to close out the season with a visit to Washington, as well. It’s difficult to see the Cougars hitting the nine-win mark.
Washington State vs. Houston, Sept. 13
Washington State-Houston will serve as a reunion for Leach and new Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen, who served on the coaching staff at Texas Tech under Leach for eight seasons. These two know each other too well and will know how to coach against one another. It should be another year of struggle for Houston’s defense, though. Expect Washington State to come out on top and cover the 7-point spread.
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