Anyway, read on for the top ten or so things to take from Tuesday night’s show…..
1) Bud and coach Wulff started out by talking about injuries. Wulff said “We are obviously not real deep right now at a lot of positions, but injuries aren’t too bad right now. Hopefully we can stay relatively healthy going forward.”
But brought up Jeffrey Solomon, and his status. Wulff said “It’s a partially torn ACL, as well as a bruise, and may keep him out a few weeks or longer, we don’t know. Hopefully it is not a season ending injury for him. It’s tough, he’s had some injuries in his career, and he’s playing his best football right now. We are hoping he can come back for at least the last part of the season.”
2) Bud brought up the news of the off-field incidents involving Jamal Atofau and Andre Barrington. What’s up there?
Wulff said “Right now, both players are suspended indefinitely. We are trying to gather all the facts and make the right decision. It’s unfortunate, and we’ve been very good off the field in the beginning of this year. We believe this is an isolated incident with the two players, and we will deal with it. We will have to make a decision, but we have to get all the correct facts. But right now I don’t see it as a hindrance for the rest of the team, and we believe this is something isolated with the two players.”
Bud asked if he has addressed the team about it, knowing how players will talk in the locker room and things like that? Wulff said “We talked briefly about it. We keep some information in-house, just between the coaches and players. But the players, they are very aware with what is going on with team for most part. But this is something we will fight though as a team.”
Bud asked about the Unity Council, and if that is still in place? Wulff said “Yes, we still have it, and we have a lot of seniors on it this year. But we haven’t had to use them at all this season, and that’s a good thing. But in this case we may get some input from them….but I may just make the decision myself ultimately.”
3) OK, moving on, what was the team’s overall reaction to the Oregon game?
Wulff said “Disappointment and hopefully there is now proof that you know what, we can play against anyone when we come to play Cougar football. We are still identifying what that actually means, but we want that to be physical and aggressive, always play with a chip on our shoulder, and just out-work and out-hit people every Saturday. It is a work in progress, and we are starting to see flashes with players on field. That is the direction, that is where we are heading. Our confidence is growing because we are raising our level to Pac-10 level, and we have to keep building on that.”
Bud asked about how you measure the level of toughness? Wulff said “It’s a few things really, preparation, how you prepare and you play physical. But toughness is not always just a physical thing, but be very physical how you approach things, yet are you MENTALLY tough from play to play? Do you have the discipline?”
Wulff went on to say “For example, you can make a big play, or this last week, Oregon can make a big play on you, in fact they can make several big plays on you. DO you have the toughness to come back and be ready for the next play, forgetting what happened in that big play, good or bad? It’s a learned experience, it takes positive experiences to build up the mental toughness. It is something we try to work on during the offseason, but it’s a process that keeps moving forward during the season. The best part is you are seeing the progress of the young players, not only physically better but we have some healthy young minds who are doing well with it.”
Bud asked about Oregon’s big plays, and that while they still had a lot of yards and points, WSU actually held them below some of their seasonal averages.
Wulff said “And they always will make big plays. They have so much talent, speed and enough experience, while they have some youth they are loaded with Seniors and Juniors. That is why they play like that, they are one of the top teams in the country. Mature teams and mature programs usually have great years, and this is a year for them to be great. They will lose a lot of key players off this team for next year, so they will be different next year but right now they are an awfully good football team!”
4) Bud asked about the new defensive position changes. What did Wulff see? Wulff said “More speed, first and foremost. There was one play where LaMichael James was chased down the sideline, and Deone Bucannon was running right with him. If Bucannon doesn’t run him down, then CJ Mizell couldn’t have made the play to cause the fumble. We were just faster on defense, all the way around. Going forward we are looking at having Anthony Carpenter play more, and he will add even more speed. But the young players we put out there now will continue to give us better speed on defense.”
Bud asked about the young players making mistakes on defense? Wulff said “Yeah, we had a blitz in a critical situation in the first half. We were ahead in the game early on, 14-8, and we had a blitz called on third down. LaMichael James got loose behind Casey Locker for an 84-yard pass play that went for a TD. That’s what happens when you play with youth, mistakes, but it happens with vets too. But you learn and move forward. But I can promise you that Casey Locker will probably never make that mistake again!”
5) Time to talk about Arizona. Bud brought up this current three-game stretch of playing the best teams in the conference back-to-back-to-back, in Oregon, Arizona and Stanford, and now that Oregon is out of the way, time for the Wildcats. Wulff said “They didn’t have a great game vs Oregon State, but they only lost by 2 points. They are still a very good team, they beat a really good Iowa team at home, and they beat Cal at home. They have blown people out, and they have played close and won too. But they have played just one road game thus far and 4 at home, so we need to make it hard for them on Saturday. Hopefully we can go out and play with same passion and energy as we had last week, I believe we will and I am really excited to see how we respond to this challenge. Bud mentioned that this is the second of two straight home games, and Wulff said it is “Very nice, and great for us and we need it. I am looking forward to it. Hopefully it is a big crowd with Dad’s Weekend. We need to create plays to get people excited. And when they get excited it is such an advantage for us on the field. We have to continue to do that, continue to improve. The crowd will help us that much more.”
More on Arizona – “Stoops has a tough, aggressive team, with really good team speed. They play hard, and have developed that into their program, it’s part of their culture and expectation. Now they are having success and are able to build off that, and they are already looking at another bowl season for the third year in a row. The consistency is finally there and they have done a good job.”
Bud asked about their ability to throw ball. Bud mentioned that right now, Nick Foles is on pace to be the career leader in completion percentage at Arizona. Wulff said “He throws the ball very well, he is very accurate. And he has some big weapons, good targets with good speed, but he’s a great player. They are the best passing team in the conference and they are very explosive, they can score at any time.”
Bud said that it looks like we’ll have two teams move it a lot through the air? Wulff said “Hopefully the one wearing crimson will do the better job! We have a good chance to throw the ball but the key will be the running game, controlling the clock. That team what is able to run the ball successfully will have the upper hand in this game.”
6) On to the phones, after some technical difficulties. A caller asked about Skyler Stormo and Andrei Lintz, and why is Wulff keeping big, athletic players like that off the field and not involved in the offense right now? Wulff said “Well, both are great kids, working hard, and trying to get better. But right now on offense, we have found more success with 4 wide receiver sets, or 2 running backs with 3 wide receivers (note – we saw a lot of that vs. Oregon last week). We have been moving the ball better like that. Stormo has been on special teams, and we will get him on the field more. Lintz has been nicked up, battling a shoulder injury of late. He has had some issues the last 3 weeks. But you will see Lintz as more of a receiver and try to get him involved there, he runs really well for a guy his size. He could evolve there but his health has been an issue of late.”
Bud asked about Arizona again. Offensively, they are 5th in the nation in passing offense, and of course, Nick Foles has been tough. He just went 35 for 46 for 440 yards vs Oregon State. What do you see there? Wulff said “They will do a lot of screens and those type of things, and that’s an area we have to get better defending. We are young on the perimeter and that showed vs. Oregon. We have to get off blocks and make tackles on screens. We have to get used to getting off blocks and making plays out in space, they will do it a lot and we have to be good at it.”
Bud brought up the strong running back duo of Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin. Wulff said “Our young linebackers will have to tackle quick, experienced backs in space. They can run well and make plays. Our tackling was better vs Oregon, 9 missed tackles, which I think is respectable vs. a team like Oregon (note – remember they had 23 missed tackles vs. SC!).
7) A caller asked again about Jeffrey Solomon and what we will do without him. Wulff said “Both Isiah Barton and Gino Simone will play more now, and we are fortunate to have them. Unfortunately we were getting into a rhythm with Solomon, but Gino will do a good job, as will Barton. Barton has hit a lull lately, and that happens in the first year of college football. But we think he will come back strong.”
The caller asked about Kristoff Williams, will we see him? Wulff said “No, it’s clear now that the toe isn’t going to heal in time. The best thing is to redshrt him at this point. When he gets on the field and is healthy, he has unbelievable talent and has some special gifts. When you get him on the field with Marquess Wilson and Jared Karstetter, well, I think we will be as good as any team throwing the ball in this league. But we just have to get Williams on the field and healthy!”
8) Bud asked about the progress of Jared Karstetter, now with a streak of having caught a ball in 21 straight games. Wulff said “Jared has been using his strength running routes. He is strong and physical enough to always make catches with people all over him. And he has really improved at getting his body between the ball and the defender, to shield the defense away from the ball. His strength is very good, and he also doesn’t get “rerouted” on running his routes. He has really evolved as a wide receiver.”
On the WR position, Wulff asked about Daniel Blackledge, and how was he feeling after taking some shots, like the neck for example on the TD catch? Wulff said “He’s sore. He has a sore ankle, sore knee, sore neck. But he’s tough. He was out there today and had a very good practice, so he’ll be fine.”
9) A caller said that he was happy with the progress, and thanked Wulff for making changes for the better. Wulff said “I believe that patience will always be rewarded, just be patient and we will do special things, I can see it coming. We have to all keep going in the same direction. The talent is here and we have to keep bringing it in and developing it. But you can see flashes, that we are definitely headed in right direction.”
On that same note, there was a question from crowd on how Wulff feels about the overall progression of the team? Wulff said “On offense we are getting confidence, special teams are a lot more consistent, and our defense is still evolving. On our two-deep roster this week on defense, we have 11 or 12 frosh or sophomores listed. So we are still young, and we are still learning. But all 3 phases are growing and growing together, we are getting more belief in ourselves and we are building off success. We are working hard and growing together.”
“In the SC game we grew a lot on offense, but we had a poor game on defense. Offensively vs. UCLA we took steps, and again this week vs Oregon we grew some more. Now we hope every week we are getting better and better, by now that is where our mindset is, keep moving in that direction. We are pleased with the growth but we want to take another step, and we understand the process. But to grow you have to put one foot in front of the other, daily, and work on what you can control today and moving forward.”
Bud brought up the kick return coverage, now ranked #1 in nation. Wulff said “This year we are playing 8 freshmen on special teams, and they are doing a great job covering kicks. Going back to when I interviewed at WSU, I talked about recruiting tough kids who loved WSU. We are starting to see those recruits get on field, they are going to play and mature on special teams, and I really believe we will have a different passion compared to other teams. we want something that can last for years and years around here. We will do it with great passion for the sport, and do it with talented kids who are also strong from the ‘neck up’!”
10) Finally, Bud brought up a comparison of the passing numbers for Jeff Tuel vs. those of Ryan Leaf and Drew Bledsoe in their sophomore years. Wulff said the “Numbers compare well. Tuel actually has the higher completion percentage among the three, the yards are almost identical, and the TD-int ratio’s are similar. It is really impressive. But Tuel has young wide receivers he can keep throwing to over the next two years. And when you have a QB like this, you usually get winning seasons too, so it’s coming!” Bud mentioned that the receivers as a group seem pretty confident this year. Wulff said “They are all confident. Not overly cocky but very confident and determined. But our youthful players are all like that, they have a purpose and they won’t be shy about that stuff. They know it won’t happen in one year but they have goals and are determined to get it done.”
The last part of the show, Bud asked about practice this week. Have they backed off a bit this week on the contact? Wulff said “Actually yes, tomorrow we will cut back on physical play. We have to keep moving fast, playing fast, thinking fast, and we have to practice at a fast tempo. But we will back off a bit tomorrow on the physical play.”
That’s about it. Oh wait, we voted again in the top 25 blog poll. Some movement with all the recent updates, so, here’s our ballot:
Some quick notes – Ohio State is the logical choice to move up to #1, after all they were #2 last week and #1 lost, so, there you go. But Oregon is seriously on their heels. And I know the word is Boise State is going to be the #1 in the BCS rankings next week, but keep in mind that we have a LONG way to go. Also know that the BCS rankings are based on the situation right now, not what will be at the end of the season. Per an ESPN analyst on Monday on College Football Live, Boise State’s weak schedule for the remainder of the season, combined with some high-rated teams that still have some big games ahead, could see an Oregon or Ohio State or Nebraska elevate past them. That’s assuming, of course, that some of these teams can remain undefeated!
Maybe it’s me, but doesn’t it just seem like there isn’t a true “super team” this year? I mean Oregon looks really good, so deep and talented at so many levels. But you don’t get a complete sense that they are unstoppable, surrendering 54 points combined to Stanford and WSU. Nebraska looks great, but even they slogged their way to a 17-3 win over South Dakota a couple of weeks ago. And they still have to play Texas, and at a surprisingly good Oklahoma State the following week. They don’t have to play Oklahoma though (isn’t that weird? Back in the old school days of college football, Oklahoma-Nebraska was as big as Ohio State-Michigan. Now they won’t even meet unless they play in the Big 12 title game!). Maybe LSU is that team? They are SEC, and unbeaten so far. But they have remaining games against Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas! Brutal.
That’s it for now. Enjoy Humpday, and as always, GO COUGS!