The Washington State Cougars are looking to improve in year two under Mike Leach and climb their way out of the cellar of the Pac 12. There will undoubtedly be improvement on the offensive side of the ball as Connor Halliday and the slew of young receivers forced into action in 2012 gaine experience and a level of comfort in Leach’s high-octane offense. The key to their turnaround, however, will be on defense and in the secondary in particular. That’s where Deone Bucannon must lead the rest of the Coug defenders to a markedly improved season.
Last season, Washington State ranked No. 11 in the conference in pass efficiency defense. They were routinely burned over the top by opposing offenses as their secondary was routinely overmatched by some of the better receivers in the league. Their inability to stick on receivers contributed in a major way to the Cougars finished with the No. 108 scoring defense in college football.
Bucannon, for his part, did his best to hold things together. The strong safety led the team with 106 tackles and four interceptions. The WSU defense needs him to do even more, however, and act as a leader to improve the overall play of his teammates in coverage. He will not only need to lead the team in tackles and turnovers, he will have to raise the level of play around him if the pass defense has any hope of improving in 2013.
Bucannon was a leader on a defense that wasn’t very good in 2012. Next season, he has to not only lead the team again on the field, but find a way to bring his the play of those around him up to his level as well.