The college football season will be upon us before you know it. With the action on the transfer portal finally starting to slow down a bit, this is a good time to start to take a look at the top 50 NCAAF teams in 2022.
The countdown starts with No. 50 Washington State, which saw its head coach let go during the season for not complying with Washington’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for state employees. After the season, starting quarterback Jayden de Laura transferred to Pac-12 Conference rival Arizona. The Cougars might be OK in the quarterback department as Cameron Ward transferred in from Incarnate Word.
According to the college football picks, the projected win total for Washington State has been set at 5½. The odds are +120 for the Cougars to finish above that total and -150 to go under.
Washington State Cougars
- 2021 record: 7-6
- 2021 conference record: 5-3
- Head coach: Jake Dickert
- Odds to win conference title: +3300
While seeing the starting quarterback transfer to a fellow conference team is never ideal, there is help on the way.
Cameron Ward transferred to Washington State after throwing for 4,648 yards and 47 touchdowns in 2021. Ward had games with 610, 481 and 455 passing yards in 2021. Yes, he is making the jump from FCS to FBS, but those who bet online will be keeping an eye on the strong-armed quarterback for the Cougars. Washington State making the countdown at No. 50 has quite a bit to do with the exciting potential of Ward.
The offensive coordinator is Eric Morris, who was the head coach at Incarnate Word. He is a former assistant coach at Washington State when Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” offense led FBS teams in passing yards. The plan is to return to that style of offense and to move away from the “Run and Shoot.” Robert Ferrel, the second-leading receiver on the 2021 Incarnate Word team, is also with Washington State so there is plenty of familiarity for Ward.
Zeriah Beason, who had 36 catches over the last two seasons at Oregon State, is another prominent transfer on offense. The Cougars will have to replace leading receiver Calvin Jackson (978 yards on 66 catches), who recently signed with the New York Jets. De’Zhaun Stribling is back after having 44 receptions as a freshman. The running game will be interesting, considering that the leading returning rusher (Nakia Watson) had 114 yards in 2021. One of the biggest losses on offense could be offensive tackle Abraham Lucas.
The defense did lose three of the top four tacklers, including linebacker Jahad Woods, who had 109 tackles. The Cougars hit the transfer portal to add Nevada linebacker Daiyan Henley (a team-leading 103 tackles to go with four interceptions), Nevada safety Jordan Lee (85 tackles, four pass breakups in 2021), Utah State cornerback Cam Lampkin (43 tackles, six pass breakups) and Virginia defensive lineman Nusi Malani. Henley is among the Washington State players getting some mentioned as a possible all-conference player in 2022.
— Washington State Football (@WSUCougarFB) June 2, 2022
Defensive end Ron Stone returns after recording five sacks and 11½ tackles for loss a season ago. Brennan Jackson (46 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks) also returns so the pass rush could be a strength of the defense.
Punter Nick Haberer (42.8 yards per punt) and kicker Dean Janikowski (14 of 17 on field goals in 2021) both return to give the Cougars one of the best returning punter-kicking duos in the Pac-12.
2022 Washington State Outlook
There are plenty of questions, especially with more than 20 players transferring since the end of last season. The good news is that according to the 247sports.com transfer database, five of the top eight rated transfers are players joining the program.
The stability of the coaching staff should be a plus after a chaotic 2021 season when Nick Rolovich and four assistants were let go in the middle of the season. The Cougars made the best of what could have been a nightmarish situation. Washington State defeated rival Washington for the first time since 2012 and that was the highlight of a wild 2021 season.
There were some significant losses on both sides of the ball, but there are enough pieces in place for Washington State to make a run at another bowl game.
2022 Washington State Schedule
- Sept. 3 vs Idaho
- Sept. 10 at Wisconsin
- Sept. 17 vs Colorado State
- Sept. 24 Oregon
- Oct. 1 vs California
- Oct. 8 at Southern California
- Oct. 15 at Oregon State
- Oct. 27 vs Utah
- Nov. 5 at Stanford
- Nov. 12 vs Arizona State
- Nov. 19 at Arizona
- Nov. 26 vs Washington