Donte's Challenge The Cougs of WSU
Our new head coach, Donte Williams is thrust in to the front row at 12:30p tomorrow versus the Washington State Cougars on the road. I actually think being on the road is a good thing for the players, staff and the fans. A little relief from all the local commotion going on around the recent events of moving on from Clay Helton. Donte will be faced with convincing the team that he has the reins and he has a tight grip on the leather. He has to also let his new staff know that he is in charge. I think the biggest challenge will be the maturity of Graham Harrell and how he handles his interaction with the team and the media. Something tells me he isn't very happy and I believe even noted to the press that they all thought Jinx would be the next coach up internally.
Focus is always the key element following the changing of leadership. Doesn't matter what the change is coming from it's change. Change can by itself disrupt the full embrace and beliefs of a team or even a company. It happens. It's predictable. Which is why a road game is a godsend for the Trojans.
Washington State is viewed as a weaker team in the Pac-12 conference but to everyone who has followed these two team over the years something doesn't always compute with the expectations of WSU and the Trojans coming out of the locker room. Now I will profess that Helton teams always lacked that authoritative approach to managing a game and often let the early quarters get out of hand fast when they should have been dominating.
Donte has that unique opportunity tomorrow to right that ship if only for a brief weekend. He can show that motivation is a key ingredient in why USC should take a hard look at this up and coming future head coach. He is interim today. Hence I say future. Mike Bohn chose him for his recruiting abilities and his calm reserved handling of an emotional roller coaster the past few seasons under Helton.
The players have a chance to wipe the slate clean and make that run they were supposed to make every year. There will be physical play in practice once again up to the limits of the NCAA and not this softened approach to preparing for battle per Clay. There may even be some competition at QB-1 this year which was going to be unheard of with Graham and Clay going in to the season. Jackson Dart just won the practice belt and if that isn't a sign that he wants in Coach I don't know what a sign is then. He should have seen time in the Stanford blow out.
Washington State is a dangerous game regardless of the new coaching changes. They know how to beat USC and play in to their minds with their relentless pursuit of the Air Raid and a true up tempo offensive game as well. Unlike ours. Look for more running at the Trojans as Stanford clearly showed a weakness between the guards on the line. The Cougs game is no cake walk and listening to Donte he was clearly treating it that way. I think we are going to see a two pronged attack with more running offensive sets at our defense than we have seen from WSU in the past.
Fight On - Game time is 12:30p Saturday