The running game for the WSU football team last year was a complete disaster.
The Cougars averaged 29 rushing yards per game, which ranked 124th in the country last year. In reality the Cougars cannot get any lower in the charts, and they are completely at rock bottom when it comes to the running game. The only direction the running game can head is up.
Entering into a second year under the air raid offense, this WSU Cougars running game should be nowhere near as abysmal as it was last season.
The air raid offense is not the reason why the Cougars failed at running the ball. Passing the ball the majority of the game does take away reps from the running back, but the state of the offensive line determines the running game.
In WSU Head Football Coach Mike Leach's last season coaching at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders were able to not only throw but run the ball as well by averaging 84 yards a game.
The offensive line makes or breaks the running game, and now after a year playing together they expect a change. Last season the Cougars were very young on the offensive line, starting many inexperienced players.
Currently, Leach and his staff have an offensive line that has a rare four-year starter including right guard John Fullington and redshirt senior right tackle Rico Forbes.
Forbes missed last season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and is steadily improving, according to Cougfan.com.
Similar to what Leach had when he was coaching at Texas Tech, the Cougs do not have a huge offensive line, but the state of the offensive line will improve, which means more holes for the running back to run the ball.
"At times there wasn't enough communication (between the offensive line)," Forbes said in an interview with the media. "I feel we have that (communication) this year."
Having an improved offensive line means more trust will be put in the running game. Last season the Cougars only averaged 2.1 rushing attempts per game. According to Cougfan.com, the plan this year is to give the running back more of an opportunity of running the ball.
"I think we're going to have a bit more balanced game," Fullington said in an interview with the media. "So I think we'll be successful when we're running or passing the ball."
Having a balanced offensive attack this year will benefit the running the game for the Cougars because it will keep the defense on their toes.
Also look for the running game to improve due to the fact that starting running back Teondray Caldwell had a year of playing college football in the air raid offense. Caldwell is currently the starting back for the Cougars. New players, such as freshmen running backs Gerard Wicks and Jamal Morrow, will give Caldwell a break instead of taking the majority of the work load.
With the emphasis that the Cougars have on running the ball this season and looking at Leach's past at Texas Tech, fans will see an improvement with the running game that will help the Cougars avoid experiencing what they went through last year.