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2021 Washington State Cougars: Can They Play Some Defense?
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

2021 Washington State Cougars: Can They Play Some Defense?

The 2021 Cougars return some quality players on offense but must decide on a QB and the defense has got to be able to play better against the pass. The talent level is rising under 2nd year Coach Nick Rolovich but are they there yet?

Offense: There is total indecision at QB after a crazy spring which saw last year’s starter Jayden de Laura suspended for the entire spring, and Tennessee transfer Jarett Guarantano injure his throwing hand in the first intrasquad game. That gave Cameron Cooper most of the snaps. But he didn’t distance himself from the others so the position is an unknown. Running backs Max Borghi and Deon McIntosh will both play and have shown big-play ability. Receivers Travell Harris and Renard Bell have 250 catches and 24 TDs between them so no worries there. And the offensive line returns Abraham Lucas who likely would have been drafted had he opted out. Three other starters are back also.

Defense: A poor pass rush and even worse coverage in the secondary spelled doom for the Cougars in 2020. The linebackers are a plus as Jahan Woods and Justus Rogers return with 61 starts between them. The defensive line returns all four starters but is that a good thing considering they were inept last year. The secondary should get some help from former USC signee Jaylen Watson at corner. Michigan State transfer Chris Jackson also has been added.

Non-Conference Schedule:

9/4 Utah State

9/11 Portland State

10/23 BYU

The schedule has all three non-con games at home and that is a plus. Utah State is very winnable and Portland State is a must win. The BYU game is right in the middle of the conference schedule and it is not only difficult but also poor scheduling.

Conference Schedule:

9/18 USC

9/25 at Utah

10/2 at California

10/9 Oregon State

10/16 Stanford

10/30 at Arizona State

11/13 at Oregon

11/20 Arizona

11/27 at Washington

When you aren’t very good no schedule is easy. However, there are a couple of bright spots for the Cougs. They get both Oregon State and Arizona at home and those are very winnable games. The other games in Pullman are difficult against USC and Stanford. The road games have one toss-up game at California and the others are going to be impossible.

Summary: Washington State has got to find an answer at QB if the offense is going to be successful. They have the other pieces to be all right there. Defensively, they can’t be much worse and hopefully they will make some improvements. It won’t be an easy year.

Predicted Finish: 6th Place in the Pac-12 North

Overall Record: 4-8

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