Washington St. Cougars 2011 Season Preview

Put down the gun, Cougar fans.

What’s In Store For Washington State in 2011?

I dare say that, while the Washington State Cougars will still be somewhat bad this season, they may not be blow-your-brains out bad. Things may finally be looking up in Pullman.

Washington State was the Pac-12’s punching bag last season, going 2-10 to finish last in the conference (which had 10 teams at the time). The Cougars were woefully bad on defense, ranking third-worst in the entire FBS in total defense with 467.6 yards allowed per game.

Washington State Cougars 2011 Season Preview

They allowed 35.7 points per contest.

But Washington State’s offense showed a little somethin’. Jeff Tuel fuelled the country’s 42nd-best passing attack – nothing special but quite reasonable for a 2-10 team.

In theory, if Washington State’s offense can keep growing and its “D” could make any strides at all, doesn’t this team have a shot to double its 2010 win total?

The Cougars don’t look like a strong running team but their passing attack should keep improving in an offense that returns eight starters for 2011.

Behind a sieve-like line that allowed 51 sacks last season, Tuel still managed to throw for 2,780 yards and 18 touchdowns versus 12 interceptions. He developed a nice rapport with freshman wideout Marquess Wilson.

The dynamic playmaker averaged 18.3 yards per catch last season. In theory, even a small improvement in Tuel’s protection could make the Cougars a top-25 passing team.

Naturally, defense is the major area of concern once again in 2011. Head coach Paul Wulff, who is on the hot seat, hired several new defensive coaches this offseason. In theory, the Cougars can’t be as bad as they were last season, right?

Sure, the Cougars’ Pac-12 buddies should beat on them this season. They visit Oregon, Cal and Washington. They get Stanford and Arizona State at home. But, aside from a trip to San Diego State, their non-conference schedule looks pretty friendly.

2011 Season Prediction:

Assuming Washington State’s offense even stays the same and the “D,” which returns seven starters, improves ever-so-slightly, it’s not unreasonable to expect minor improvement this season. Are we talking over .500 and a bowl-game berth? No. Let’s get serious.

But Cougars fans should at least expect to witness a few victories at home in Pullman this season.

That’s something to cheer about.

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