Aug. 30—The announcement of team captains and the depth chart signal the first Washington State football game of the season is just days away.
Here are some game week notes as the Cougars prepare to face Colorado State at 4 p.m. Saturday (CBS Sports Network) in Fort Collins, Colo.
WSU names 6 captains
The Cougars voted six players to be team captains this season: senior edge Brennan Jackson, senior edge RJ Stone, senior wide receiver Lincoln Victor, junior quarterback Cam Ward, junior offensive lineman Konner Gomness and junior cornerback Chau Smith-Wade.
Sixth-year players Jackson and Stone are captains for the third straight season while Gomness and Victor are captains for a second time.
"I told our team, they don't vote for those guys because they score touchdowns, or sack guys or are really good cover guys," WSU coach Jake Dickert said. "It needs to be about when things aren't going well, we can really lean into these guys and they can hold us accountable. ... Proud to be working with that group this year."
While guys like Jackson, Stone and Ward are obvious team leaders both vocally and in how they rack up honors and stats, it was actually Victor who earned the most votes.
Victor's 26 catches for 245 yards last season were modest, but the senior from Maui, Hawaii, is a favorite among his teammates and exactly the type of player Dickert is looking toward to lead his Cougars.
"This game has taught me a lot; this game has allowed me to be resilient and push through a lot of things," Victor said. "... I couldn't ask for any better teammates than the guys I have in this facility."
Few surprises on the depth chart
The Cougars released their first depth chart this week and few surprises were to be found.
The defensive line is nearly identical to last season — led by Jackson, Stone and defensive tackles David Gusta and Nusi Malani — and will likely rotate two to three players at every position.
Sixth-year veteran Nakia Watson returns at running back despite resting for most of fall camp, which allowed sophomore Jaylen Jenkins, freshman Djouvesnky Schlenbaker and others to get valuable practice touches.
The two biggest question marks are how will the Cougars work in all of their wide receivers and how will the depleted linebacker corps fare?
At wideout, the starters are UNLV transfer Kyle Williams and Fresno State transfer Josh Kelly on the outside and either Victor, juco transfer DT Sheffield or San Jose State transfer Isaiah Hamilton in the slot.
But the Cougars could easily play 10 different receivers on gameday.
Sophomores Tsion Nunnally and Leyton Smithson and standout true freshman Carlos Hernandez are all expected to see the field, too.
"That's a group that combined, how many Pac-12 snaps have they played? Very little," Dickert said. "So who can put in the work and apply it from practice to gameday?"
At linebacker it's a pair of new starters in junior Kyle Thornton and senior Texas transfer Devin Richardson. Behind them, there's little experience so the duo may need to stay healthy for WSU to have success at the position.
At center, Gomness leads an offensive line group that may see some shuffling early in the season.
The defensive backfield boasts loads of experience in the quartet of corners Smith-Wade and Cam Lampkin and safeties Sam Lockett and Jaden Hicks.
Junior Cooper Mathers is listed as the starter at tight end.
Odds and ends
Many players that had been taking it easy or dealing with minor injuries returned to practice this week, such as Watson at running back and offensive lineman Fa'alili Fa'amoe, the expected starter at right tackle. ... Dickert announced freshman defensive lineman Rocky Shields has left the team for personal reasons. ... Redshirts are still yet to be worked out, but two true freshmen are expected to contribute all season: Hernandez at wide receiver and defensive lineman Ansel Din-Mbuh of Aledo, Texas.
Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2277, email@example.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.