PULLMAN, Wash. — With a new coaching staff, there’s a highly positive outlook for the Washington State Cougars football team. A group of seniors, including defensive lineman Adam Coerper, are expected to help provide the necessary leadership in what could very well be a turnaround season.
Coerper, a 2008 Hood River Valley High graduate, is a redshirt senior in his fifth year at WSU in Pullman, Wash. The 22-year-old says he’s excited to compete in another season of NCAA Division I college football.
“Since it’s my senior year, I expect to do some good things and help turn things around for our team this season,” said Coerper. “In the five years I’ve been here, I’ve never really felt that we’ve had as much excitement and such an upbeat attitude among our team that we have this year. All the new coaches have enjoyed success with other teams, so they know how to win.”
Coerper was a starting tackle in WSU’s nationally televised (ESPN) Aug. 30 season opener (a 30-6 loss) between the Cougars and the Brigham Young University Cougars in Provo, Utah, and he was in the camera spotlight often while playing nearly half the game. Unfortunately, Coerper didn’t play much last Saturday in WSU’s home opener at newly remodeled Martin Stadium, which the Cougars (1-1) won 24-20 over the Eastern Washington Eagles (1-1).WSU’s next contest is on the road Sept. 15 against the UNLV Rebels (0-2); their next home game is Sept. 22 versus Colorado.
WSU new head coach Mike Leach enjoyed tremendous success at Texas Tech (2000-2009) while leading the team to bowl games every year. With such a highly regarded coach like Leach, who was hired in November, expectations for Cougar fans have steadily increased.
The 6-foot-5, 256-pound Coerper played eight games last year, while starting in four contests, including the season opener. That was notable since it was his first time as a starter. He had a total of 16 tackles, one fumble recovery and half a sack during the season. Much like the previous two seasons, it was frustrating at times because he missed four games last year due to injuries.
“I’m not too satisfied with the way things have been going, because I’ve had kind of an injury-riddled career and I expected it to be much different,” said Coerper. “I had a good season last year because it was the first time I had a significant amount of playing time.”
Coerper participated only in practice sessions as a redshirt incoming freshman in 2008 and wasn’t eligible to play during the season. Coerper was unable to play much the next two years while recovering from a hernia surgery, shoulder surgery and an ankle injury, but he did manage to play in two games in 2010.
One of the many new members of the Cougar coaching staff includes defensive line coach Joe Salavea, who expressed positive thoughts regarding Coerper and the 14 seniors on the squad.
“In any program, you need to have seniors like Adam Coerper, to help provide stable leadership,” said Salavea, formerly an assistant coach at the University of Arizona. “Adam plays with such a high energy level and he’s always all over the field making plays. He sets a good example for the younger players and we hope they’ll respond and play with the same type of energy that he does.”
Coerper says the highlight last year was when he tackled Utah quarterback John Hays near the end zone and almost recorded a safety. There were few bright spots, though, in what was a disappointing 2011 season for the Cougars, who were 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the Pacific-12 Conference North Division.
Coerper is confident that Leach’s Air Raid offense, combined with a solid defense, will help WSU reverse its recent trend of Pac-12 last place conference finishes.
“Our team is absolutely capable of having lots of success this year and we’re hoping to win as many games as we can,” said Coerper, a communications major. “Like all college players, I hope to get an opportunity to play in the NFL, which is my ultimate goal.”