WSU broadcaster Chazanow breaks down football schedule, new coaches

Jan 19, 2023, 2:38 PM

WSU Chau Smith-Wade Sam Lockett III...

WSU's Chau Smith-Wade and Sam Lockett III force a fumble from Stanford's Elijah Higgins. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The WSU Cougars built off of a strong finish to the 2021 season with a 7-6 record and bowl appearance in 2022, their first full year under head coach Jake Dickert, and they have high hopes again for next season.

An early indication of how 2023 may go arrived Wednesday with the release of schedules for all Pac-12 football teams. To get a read on the Cougs’ schedule and their outlook for next season, Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy caught up Thursday with WSU lead broadcaster Matt Chazanow.

First up, what jumps out about the schedule?

“There are two knee jerks immediately,” Chazanow said to Stacy Rost and guest host Curtis Rogers. “Everybody loves Wisconsin coming to Pullman, right? That’s a huge get. Over the years, that’s a rarity among anybody. If you look at Bama or anybody, it’s very rare where you get Power Fives coming to you in (non-conference play). And then a Saturday Apple Cup is fun.”

That being said…

“You kind of don’t get a ton of breaks,” Chazanow continued. “I mean, it’s very, very much what the Pac has been. No USC, no Utah, but Oregon State’s really good, you gotta go to the Rose Bowl (to play UCLA) and then you gotta go to Autzen (Stadium to play Oregon). I think Arizona is kind of funny, too. They come to Pullman but they were so much improved last year. The Cougs did a great job in Tucson picking off (former WSU and current Arizona QB Jayden) de Laura four times. But if (Arizona’s) defense is better, that’s not going to be an easy game.”

WSU has some changes to deal with in 2023, as well, with Ben Arbuckle taking over as offensive coordinator and Jeff Schmedding the new Cougs defensive coordinator. Arbuckle, who was most recently co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Western Kentucky, replaces Eric Morris, who is the new head coach at North Texas. Schmedding was Auburn’s DC and takes over for Brian Ward, who is the new Arizona State DC.

Chazanow expects the coordinator moves to have more of an impact on the WSU offense led by quarterback Cameron Ward.

“I know they want to move the ball down the field more,” he said. “I mean, there were a lot of times where the offense stagnated and I think that’s why they brought in coach Arbuckle from Western Kentucky, which has put up fantastic offensive numbers… I know that’s an emphasis is they don’t want to deviate from passing the ball a lot, they don’t want to just shut it down and say, ‘Alright, let’s ground and pound’… They just want to change the way they do it. So Eric Morris gets the head job at North Texas, and my understanding is that they want to use Cameron Ward’s big arm and try to drive the ball down the boundaries and put some pressure on some teams, trying to go over the top more.”

The defense, meanwhile, has been a strength for the Cougs for multiple years under Dickert, who was defensive coordinator before being named head coach on an interim basis during the 2021 season. As a result, Chazanow thinks Schmedding should have no trouble getting to work in Pullman.

“What a great situation to walk into. I mean, coach Dickert is a defensive guy, he’s very open about that, and they’ve been elite defensively – forced some turnovers and their scheme has been just dominant at times,” Chazanow said. “I mean, they’ve been as good a defensive team in the Pac as just about any over the last few years, and that was quick when coach Dickert got here… I’m excited to talk to (Schmedding) and figure out what he wants to do with coach Dickert and this defense that has a great defensive line coming back, you’ve got (cornerback) Chau Smith-Wade in the secondary, (safety) Jaden Hicks. I mean, there’s a lot of talent here in this Cougar defense.”

You can listen to the full interview with Chazanow, which also includes some WSU men’s basketball talk, in the podcast below.

Huard: The challenge Penix, DeBoer and UW Huskies now face in ’23

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