Like stated in the offense’s report card, the sample size of this unique season is smaller than usual. But with that being said, WSU did have some positives and negatives when it comes to the defense. The special teams unit was flawless.
Here is my personal report card on both, starting with the defense, and more specifically, the line.
WSU’s defensive line, much like a lot of the overall defense, were riddled with injuries. DE Brennan Jackson led the line with 19 total tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Ron Stone Jr also took a large role as an edge rusher with 13 total tackles.
Opposing team’s running backs had major games against WSU’s front line, despite the USC game. OSU’s Jemar Jefferson had 120 rush yards and three TDS, Oregon’s CJ Verdell had 148 rush yards with a TD, and Utah’s Ty Jordan had 154 rush yards, and three TDs.
Run-stopping is certainly an issue that WSU’s front line can work on heading into 2021. The line all-together accounted for 7 sacks.
Edge Brennan Jackson was given All-Conference Honorable Mention honors.
Defensive Line’s grade: C
Moving back in the formation, the next evaluation will go to the linebackers.
Names that stick out include Jahad Woods, Justus Rogers and Dillon Sherman. Woods, who I believe is the most skilled defensive player on the Cougs, had 31 total tackles, a sack, interception, and a forced fumble. Rogers had 16 total tackles, and Sherman had 15.
The linebacking crew will look to help the line stop the run and the secondary help with the skilled Pac-12 wide receivers in 2021.
Jahad Woods was given All-Conference Honorable Mention honors.
Linebacker’s grade: B
Now onto WSU’s secondary. DBs Daniel Isom, Armani Marsh, George Hicks III, Ayden Hector and Jaylen Watson were the playmakers in the secondary. Isom had 32 total tackles, Marsh had 22, Hicks III had 19, and Hector and Watson had 13. Ayden Hector was the lone DB in the secondary with a pick. Hicks III and Watson both had two passes defended.
Outside of the names listed above, the secondary struggled with opposing team’s wideouts. In all games but USC, WSU’s secondary gave up 300+ yards to receivers. But in the USC game, despite giving up less than 300 yards, Amon-Ra St. Brown had four receiving TDs, all in the first quarter. Four TDs were given up through the air against Oregon as well.
Much like the defensive line, the secondary will need to work out their kinks, and figure out how to limit receivers. Injuries, yet again, were an issue for the secondary.
Safety Daniel Isom and CB Jaylen Watson were given All-Conference Honorable Mention honors.
Secondary’s grade: C
Finally, we have reached the end of the 2020 report card. This one finishes with the special teams.
Special teams this year were solid all around the horn.
Punter Oscar Draguicevich III couldn’t have been much better at pinning opponents deep. Draguicevich, per his Twitter announcement Tuesday, will be forgoing his final year of NCAA eligibility and declaring for the 2021 NFL draft.
Kicker Blake Mazza was nearly perfect this year. 12/13 on extra points, and 4/4 on field goals. Last year’s Lou Groza’s Collegiate Place-Kicker award finalist stayed on the same path he did in the year prior.
Oscar Draguicevich III was given All-Conference Second-Team honors. Blake Mazza was given All-Conference Honorable Mention honors.
Special Team’s grade: A
(Photos via WSU Athletics)