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Lacking numbers, Mike Leach keeps first-team offensive line together for Washington State spring game

April 22, 2018

In a perfect world, Mike Leach would’ve divided his offensive linemen into two even teams for Saturday’s Crimson and Gray game at Joe Albi Stadium.

The Cougars didn’t have the numbers. Their coach called an audible.

Rather than dressing half of his O-linemen in Crimson tops and the other half in Gray, Leach had most wear white and play on both sides during the annual spring game. The first team offensive line – left tackle Andre Dillard, left guard Josh Watson, center Fred Mauigoa, right guard Robert Valencia and right tackle Abraham Lucas – stuck together for the majority of the scrimmaged and played with both of the Cougars’ top quarterbacks, Trey Tinsley and Anthony Gordon.

“We just didn’t have enough,” Leach said. “Wanted to, I wanted to. And that’s what I’d prefer. So basically we were limited number-wise, so we’d roll them in and then of course with rolling them in, you just roll them in on both sides. So it was tough, that’s always the hardest position because I really like splitting the team in half and the hardest one to do it with is the offensive line.”

Just 12 offensive linemen are listed on the current Cougar roster. Three starters from the 2017 team graduated and three more players who were supposed to return, Alec Kuzmack, Cedric Bigge-Duren and Nillson Gaisoa, all left for the program. WSU signed five offensive linemen as part of the 2018 class, but only one, Keenan Forbes, is on campus at the moment.

“I still think (Leach) and (offensive line coach) (Mason) Miller are trying to move people around and stuff like that to find the best five,” Lucas said. “As far as keeping two different teams together most of the time, I kind of respected it.”

The adjustment didn’t necessarily hamper the line’s productivity on Saturday, though. The Cougar quarterbacks combined to pass for 643 yards and six touchdowns, and were only touch-sacked five times.

“If you’re looking for my opinion, I feel like we did a pretty decent job today,” Lucas said. “I thought we communicated well, had good technique and worked together as an O-line.”

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