OFFICIAL GAME PROGRAM
DECEMBER 28, 2018
T he Washington State defense is often over shadowed
by the Air Raid offense but also comes into the Valero
Alamo Bowl among the top defenses in the country.
Nicknamed the “Speed D” a couple seasons ago, the Cougar defense
entered the bowl season No. 15 in the country in sacks (35), No.
30 in total defense (346.6 y/g), No. 37 in rushing defense (136.6
y/g), No. 39 in scoring defense (23.1 ppg) and No. 31 in turnover
margin (+6). Under the direction of fi rst-year defensive coordinator
Tracy Claeys, WSU tied for the Pac-12 Conference lead in sacks, led
the league in fumbles recovered (10) and tied for third in takeaways
(20). The Cougars saw 15 players record a sack in the regular season,
the most by any Pac-12 team.
The linebackers led the way for the Speed D as graduate senior
Peyton Pelluer tallied a team-high 86 tackles including nine for
loss, the second-most on the team. Pelluer received a sixth year of
eligibility after his 2017 season was cut short due to injury, started
all 12 games at MIKE linebacker, set the Washington State record for
games played with 53. Redshirt-sophomore Jahad Woods started all
12 games beside Pelluer at WIL linebacker and fi nished second on
the team with 73 tackles and made a team-best four forced fumbles.
A number of new faces made an impact in their fi rst season seeing
signifi cant playing time highlighted by a couple of RUSH linebackers.
Sophomore Dominick Silvels led the team with 4.5 sacks, redshirtfreshman
Willie Taylor III added four sacks and three forced fumbles
and fellow redshirt-freshman Fa’avae Fa’avae added 2.5 sacks.
The defensive line, often overlooked because of their lack of
size, has lived up to the “Speed D” label. Senior defensive end
Logan Tago has enjoyed a career year in his fi nal campaign for
WSU, leading the team with 10 tackles-for-loss, including three
sacks en route to earning All-Pac-12 Second Team
honors. Redshirt-senior Taylor Comfort also produced
a career year from his nose tackle position, tallying
21 tackles with four tackles-for-loss including a pair
of sacks. Defensive end Will Rodgers III emerged as a
playmaker in his sophomore seasons, fi nishing third
on the team with seven tackles-for-loss and tied for
second with four sacks.
The Cougar secondary saw a couple familiar faces
produce solid seasons while a newcomer emerged as
a leader. WSU received another impressive season
from junior strong safety Jalen Thompson who was
fourth on the team with 61 tackles and second with
seven pass breakups and senior nickelback Hunter
Dale was fi fth with 55 tackles including four for loss.
Redshirt-sophomore Skyler Thomas broke out in his
fi rst full season, starting all 12 games at free safety
and made 67 tackles, third-most on the team and added
a pair of interceptions. A couple of veteran cornerbacks
also produced impressive seasons as senior Darrien
Molton made a team-high nine pass breakups and
Marcus Strong added fi ve breakups along with a pair
Taylor Comfort / Logan Tago