Washington State's young defenders could help Cougars rise in Pac-12
Published: May 16, 2014 08:03PM
Updated: May 21, 2014 04:32PM
Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Utah wide receiver Reggie Dunn (14) runs the ball as Utah hosts Washington State, college football at Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday November 3, 2012 in Salt Lake City.

In his Pac-12 conference call earlier this month, Mike Leach seemed at ease.

So he's coming off a 6-7 season. So Washington State lost its last game, the New Mexico Bowl, by allowing Colorado State to come back from the dead. So he lost one of his most talented defenders, Deone Bucannon, to the NFL Draft.

In his third year, Leach is starting to see his recruits ascend the depth chart a little more. And that may be the key to finding some more success this season.

"We've obviously got to nail some guys down," Leach said. "But we have some quickness and athleticism that we have had. We're looking forward to some improvement."

Some of the most intriguing candidates for a breakout are - perhaps surprisingly for a Leach-coached team - on defense.

The Cougars were the No. 102 defense in the country last year, but Leach said some of the young standouts this spring were on that side of the ball. Leach named a number of defensive trench guys who could surprise: Daniel Ekuale or Emmitt Su'a-Kalio as redshirt freshmen are two possibilities.

Then there's the secondary, which loses Bucannon but has some young talent. Daquawn Brown grabbed two picks in the spring game at corner, and could be the next future pro in the defensive backfield. Leach also lauded the efforts of Beau Glover, a walk-on who had a good spring at safety.

Speaking of walk-ons, Utah fans might interested to know about Luke Falk, the Utah native who is making a case to clamber up the depth chart. The Logan grad seriously contested back-up Tyler Bruggeman in spring and could be the No. 2 passer on the depth chart.

Kyle Goon
Twitter: @kylegoon