Archive for the ‘Jeff Tuel’ Category

Rookie Watch – Checking in on Morning Practice

August 13, 2009

Hello Cougar Nation,

Longball here to give you an update on what I saw at today’s AM practice. As you may know coach Wulff has split the squads into two sessions each day, rookies in the morning and veterans in the afternoon. It’s all about reps, according to coach Wulff, and it’s a good chance to get as much work as possible for everyone. This morning I got a good glimpse of the future and my first impression…two words:

Jeff Tuel

If anyone watched Tuel’s highlight reel you know the kid shows a great arm to go with some live feet. Check it out here, by the way…

The highlights pretty much alternate between 60 yard TD runs and 60 yard TD passes. I can tell you that in person, he looks great, comfortable and in command leading the rookie offense up and down the field against the rookie D. He showed an easy throwing motion, strong arm and good accuracy, but also a great instinct for when to tuck and go. I was really excited by what I saw. He still looks very young and has a lot of filling out to do on his 6’3″ frame, so lets drop any talk of him playing this year right now. But the future looks very bright for this young man.

On defense I was really excited to see Darren Markle, the highly touted middle linebacker and serious power-lifter(400 bench, 600+ squat!?!), but it was another linebacker who really stood out to me.

Sekope Kaufusi

Good luck pronouncing his name. But however you choose to say it, Sekope stands out on the field not only because of the rock star mane of hair flowing out the back of his helmet, but also because of his size. He lines up at middle linebacker, but has defensive end size. This kid looks like he could be a lot to handle in years to come.

For the most part the O line seemed to have the upper hand, giving Tuel decent time and opening nice holes for the running backs, but whenever a running back found a nice seam up the middle they were met with a pretty loud pop in the defensive backfield followed a lot of cries of “Nice hit Jamal!” That Jamal I speak of? Safety Jamal Atofau, already making a name for himself out there.

Add Jamal to the list of young Cougs you can be very excited about for the future.

Other notes – It was interesting to see former wideout Anthony Houston running with the defense this morning as a cornerback, albeit a very large cornerback. It will be interesting to see if he can develop into a serviceable corner. With his size it would definitely help the defense match up against big receivers. Anyone who was at the Okie State game last year knows what I’m talking about?!

I had a brief chat with Co-defensive coordinator Jody Sears this morning and he succinctly reiterated what we’ve been hearing a lot about this team… bigger, faster, stronger and tougher. Sure sounds good!

That’s it for this morning folks. I will be at the afternoon session too get my first impressions of the guys we will be counting on to make a return to being competitive year. Check in later to see if there is any truth to this talk about gettin’ tough. Until then…


Louis Bland – A New Hope?

August 13, 2009

First of all, outstanding post-practice reports from Sir Vincent Grippi. Get ’em here, here and here. Cougfan as well is spreading the info, with a free article to boot (!) in their chat with coach Wulff, as well as quotes from Louis Bland and Andy Mattingly.

Sounds like a busy day, splitting the practices between the rookies in the AM and mostly vets in the PM. And there’s good tidbits to devour throughout all the coverage. But the best news, at least from where I sit? LOUIS BLAND, per the Cougfan story:

“We’re more united as a defense,” outside linebacker Louis Bland said. “Last year, it seemed when times got hard, we laid down a little bit.

“Right now, we’re not backing down from anything.”

Bland has been slowed by a left knee sprain suffered during spring practice, but he saw his most extensive action of camp on Wednesday. He joined the starters in a practice that involved only the No. 1 and 2 offenses and defenses.

I think I’ll be ready for the first game,” Bland said.

The part about Bland saying he thinks he’ll be ready for the first game, yeah, I gave it some bold text. Now, Grippi doused the excitement a bit, with a quote from Wulff saying how Bland isn’t quite 100% and still speculated that he may not be ready for the opener. But you can’t help but love to hear some good injury news on such a vital part of the defense!

We can’t say enough about Bland, after a breakthrough frosh season last year, playing his heart out as a 205-lb outside linebacker in his first NCAA action. That picture above, Bland hitting Toby Gerhart with basically his face, just speaks volumes about the kid. But to see that he’s up over 220 lbs now, and running with the one’s during some hard-hitting practice this afternoon? Very, very good news for a defense trying to rebuild it’s image.

Also some good stuff on the rookies who stood out, including QB Jeff Tuel, WR Gino Simone and DE Travis Long. Simone and Long participated in the veterans practice, while Grippi reported that Tuel had thrown pretty well, even in the rain, and there were some drops due to his “fastball”.

Anyway, I know I/we have been cool to the idea of Tuel actually playing this year…but…well, have you seen what’s going on at USC? With Aaron Corp suffering an injury that is going to keep him down for a few weeks, true frosh Matt Barkley is taking the reins, at least for now. That’s right, a true frosh QB. Clearly Barkley is on another level, I mean we’re talking about the TOP GUN coming into NCAA football this year. He’s ultra-elite, and was projected to at least battle Corp for the job anyway. Tuel, I think everyone agreed, should be redshirting….but….IF he shows a lot, should he….aw, never mind. Redshirt the kid, let him get his feet on the ground, and we’ll see what happens next year.

Look for a Longball recap of practice in the coming days. As always, GO COUGS!

Is There a Real QB Question in Pullman?

July 7, 2009

Greetings Coug Nation. As usual, we hope you enjoyed a nice, long holiday weekend. But now that it’s behind us, time to start looking ahead. Over the last few months, we’ve spilled an awful lot of ink looking at the upcoming opponents for good ‘ol WSU. But now, with news slowing to a trickle in this historically slow time of the year, what better time to take a closer look, oh, I don’t know….the Cougs??

And with that, what better place to start than at the most important position on the field, the QB? And with some pretty good timing at that, as Cougfan yesterday ran a poll in regards to who should be the QB in ’09, Marshall Lobbestael or Kevin Lopina. Did you vote? Further, have you seen the results? As of 6:30 AM today, it’s Ocho Rojo in a runaway.

At first blush, it seemed a little surprising that this was even being asked of the Coug Nation. After last year, with an extended look at Lopina and just a glimpse of Lobbestael, the consensus was that young Marshall was the QB of choice, provided he could bounce back from the rough knee injury. But is it so clear-cut? Is there a chance that this will be Lopina’s job after all? Paul Wulff has been quoted a couple of times this off-season in saying that Lopina’s the returning senior, but Marshall Lobbestael will get a full opportunity to compete for the job. And what about the young wild card in all this, J.T. Levenseller? Let’s take a look….

First, the senior returner, Kevin Lopina.

2008: 87 for 153, 841 yards, 0 TD’s, 11 INT’s. 56.9% completions. 5.5 yards per attempt. Sacked 23 times, for a QB rating of 88.66.

Really a rough line, all the way around. In nine games played, including eight starts, Lopina only broke the 100-yard mark in passing yards four times. That means the majority of his appearances, he was only in double-digits in yardage. And to never find the end-zone in eight starts is kind of hard to fathom.

But it also must be said that the vast majority of Lopina’s playing time came after he suffered the fractured vertebrae. In fact, six starts came after Lopina was knocked out with the injury. And anyone who watched him play post-fracture could see he wasn’t up to speed. Not that he played “soft” or anything. The guy did play hard, as well as stepping forward with leadership in the locker room when the season was completely unraveling. For as bad as last season was in Pullman? Without Lopina calling out some of the quitters, it could have been much, much worse. As in, probably no Apple Cup win.

And let’s face it, the guy did make ONE big play on the season, a play that will probably live on in Apple Cup lore (check out the throw to Karstetter, about a minute into the video):

I guess the reality is that Lopina has to at least be acknowledged for doing what he could last year. To grit through the bulk of the season coming off the broken back, and to show leadership along the way, says a lot about the young man’s character. One can envision that even if he doesn’t win the job this fall, that he’ll still be there to help keep things together. But who knows. Now that he’s healthy, maybe we’ll get to see the “real” Kevin Lopina? The one that had people excited after he transferred in from Kansas State? The one who was a high-profile QB recruit out of Cali powerhouse De La Salle?

Now, Marshall Lobbestael.

2008: 53-for-103, 571 yards, 4 TD’s, 4 INT. 51.5 % completions. 5.54 yards per attempt. Sacked 12 times. 103.08 QB rating.

Not exactly blow-you-away numbers either. Granted, Lobbestael was a redshirt frosh, and he did only start three games last year. So we never really saw what he was – or wasn’t. The “small sample size” argument has to be made here. While he passed the eye test on a lot of plays last year, and showing some real touch on the deep balls he completed, the jury is still very much out on Lobbestael.

But again, we’re talking about a redshirt frosh dropped into the heat of the battle. For his first-ever game action at such a young stage of his career, he was more in survival mode vs. climbing the superstar ladder. And while the completion percentage is a concern, and the yards per attempt isn’t a good thing, the fact that he more or less held his own under some pretty adverse conditions might speak volumes about what’s to come.

The good news is that the kid seems to have some sort of “it” buzz going for him. The coaches have raved about him since early last year in regards to his leadership and personality. Players appear to really like the kid. So far, everyone raves about what they’ve seen of him thus far. So he’s got that going for him. Which is good.

Finally, young J.T. Levenseller.

2008: 17-for-34, 134 yards, 0 TD’s, 2 INT’s. 50% completion percentage, 3.94 yards per attempt, with a passer efficiency rating of 71.34.

Numbers alone make this one difficult, if not impossible, to really judge. He never started a game last year, appearing in just four for the lost ’08 season. He did show some good mobility, and in his last game vs. Hawaii was 6-for-11 for 53 yards, including a season-high 28-yard completion. But again, still far, far too early to make any judgments here.

Health was an issue for young Levy as well. He missed most of spring ball with a broken tibia, and while he should be recovered for camp next month, well, who knows.

In an ideal world, provided both Lopina and Lobbestael can stay healthy in ’09? With Lopina the senior and Lobbestael the more established young QB of the program, one wouldn’t mind seeing JT get a redshirt season this year. Then, when Lopina graduates after 2009, you could have Lobbestael as the starter as a junior, JT Levy as a RS-sophomore, and the promising young recruit, Jeff Tuel, a redshirt-frosh ready to compete in 2010.

So there you have it. A glance at the QB situation as we roll towards fall camp. What do YOU think? Is it Marshall by a landslide? Should Lopina be given a fair shot, now that he’s healthy and most experienced? Or does Levenseller deserve a long look as well?

Enjoy your Tuesday, and as always, GO COUGS!

And So it Begins…

February 4, 2009

Who is Your "Must Have" For This Year’s Class?

December 17, 2008

So there has been a lot of recruiting news of late (’tis the season). Of course they are only verbal commitments until they sign on the dotted line, but it is hard not to curb a little enthusiasm? The latest news has coach Wulff landing a commit from a big-play safety in CA of the 3-star variety, who sounds like a solid kid all the way around (check Cougfan for more).

I heard from a source who follows high school football closely in the state, and he was very impressed with what our coaches have done thus far. This source is big into UW, but he has an open mind when evaluating prospects. He had very good things to say about our top commits and still can’t believe it as to how Wulff is doing it coming off a 2-win season.

I think the reality is they are doing a strong job in the living room and with the state’s high school coaches, an underrated aspect of recruiting. They are selling a unified message of a strong, structured system, a good education, a chance to play early at a BCS school and most of all, to be a part of the foundation of the turnaround of the program.

And you can’t forget the journey of Paul Wulff. He has been through some incredibly tough, character-building experiences in his life. Nothing was ever just given to him, and he has had to go out and get everything he has achieved. He is the genuine article, and what you see is what you get. No phony BS or empty promises here. How can a parent or coach not respect the path he has traveled and at least listen to what he has to say?

It’s not a typo or misprint. This class is shaping up to be one of the highest rated in school history.

THAT said, looking at the current commits (and you can see the link on the right to the current commits) plus some other rumored commits on the way (Travis Long of G-Prep?), who do YOU consider your “must have” of this year’s class?

Friday Fodder

August 15, 2008

Top o’ the morning to you. First of all, we should apologize for the delay on new content. It’s been a weird week for the WSU football bloggers, from vacations to other commitments of the personal and professional variety. But we’ve come back out of hiding. One way or another, things will be fresh from here on out. And a huge hat tip and welcome to Longball for his excellent first-person coverage of practice. He’s a good addition to the family here and we welcome him with open arms.

Just some Friday stuff to wind down the week today:

Does Michael Bumpus have a shot to make the Seahawks? I know when he first signed with them we thought hey, that could be an excellent fit, he could learn from Bobby Engram on how to be a pro, etc. But it sounds like things are going pretty well thus far. Three catches in the exhibition opener was cool, but Keith Gilbertson and Mike Holmgren have gone out of their way to talk about him, about how he’s impressing and is right in that mix of the young WR’s. With Engram’s injury and Deion Branch likely out the first 5-6 games, the wideouts are thin. I would be happy if they just practice squad the kid this year, and then who knows, maybe next year he could find a spot on the active roster. While not blessed with blazing speed and not exactly built like T.O., still, there is a place in the league for guys like Bumpus. Good hands, well coached in college, knows how to get open and most of all, doesn’t shy away from going over the middle. Keep it up Bump!

Speaking of injured WR’s….what’s up with our injuries right now? Losing Jeshua Anderson is a blow, not just from what he could provide in his production, but, most of all, a major legit deep threat is now out until October. Just the idea that he can run by almost every corner he would line up against this fall is an exciting proposition, but, not having him on the field means the defense has one less thing to worry about. And of course, it also means that Brandon Gibson will likely get extra attention. Not that he wasn’t going to see double coverage this year anyway, but remove the home run threat from the other side? Not a good thing. But add in the hamstring strain to Daniel Blackledge, another promising talent who had an impressive spring session, and an already-inexperienced group takes a step back.

I do love the buzz on Michael Willis, and everyone who has seen him since spring ball claim he’s the real deal. But will he get “white line fever” as Bill Bavasi put it when he was fired? As in, once he steps between the lines and the lights go on, will he be able to do it like he has done in practices and scrimmages? We hope so, but, it’s hard to say now because we haven’t seen it yet. And Benny Ward is big (6-3) and is a senior, but he hasn’t done much yet either. Then again, he really hasn’t had a shot with the WR’s we’ve had on the field the last few seasons, so, who knows. He’ll certainly get the opportunity now! A real wild card in this receiving mix could be Devin Frischknecht, who had a good article this week in the Times. Even coach Wulff has said that he looks like he could play on Sundays with his hands and athleticism, so, he could be a real big surprise this season. Also nice to hear Jared Karstetter showing some ability. Sure would be nice to see him redshirt and put on about 10-15 lbs of muscle, as he does look to be on the skinny side. But good hands, athletic, tall, he could be something special down the line.

QB Jeff Tuel committed to WSU last week, now up to five commits. Tuel is a 6-3 QB from Fresno who plays in a no-huddle spread offense, so, he could be a good fit. He sounds like a legit two-way threat with good good quickness, clocked at a 4.6 40 and a fast 4.13 shuttle time. He has a ways to go with his strength, benching 225 while squatting 305, but that isn’t bad for a high school senior-to-be. That weight room stuff will come down the line. He’s smart to boot with a 3.42 GPA / 1360 SAT. We’ll see. One thing I believe Cougfan pointed out is that all five commits are of the three-star rating, some sort of first. Something like we’ve never had the first five commits all at least three stars? Whatever. You never want to get caught up in star-gazing or anything, and recruiting is just such a crapshoot. But all I know is that we’re off to a good start to building Wulff’s first full, complete class from beginning to end.

Off-topic, but Lee Pelekoudes, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?? Jarrod Washburn was claimed on waivers, and you hold out for a starting pitcher from Minnesota on their 40-man roster as well as demanding the small-market Twins pick up Washburn’s $13 MILLION owed for next year? REALLY?? Wow. A chance to shed an albatross of a contract from Bavasi, the mistake that keeps on giving, and instead you take a knee? Just think how many GM’s out there would do the happy dance if they could jettison $13 million from the payroll on a 34-year old pitcher who is 5-12, an ERA near 5, and the league hitting nearly .290 against. Do they really think Washburn is the answer to anything, next year or beyond?? Do they not understand how $13 million in salary can go a long way towards the rebuilding job next year, spent on a much-needed bat or two? Good job Lee, you just completely handcuffed the “real” GM who will take your spot after the season. But don’t take my word for it. Check out what Dave Cameron at USS Mariner had to say:

In case you weren’t sure, today was a great reminder that we’re all rooting for the worst run organization in baseball. There’s not another franchise with worse leadership or more incompetence in positions of power. From the CEO on down, these people don’t know baseball. They don’t know how to run a baseball team, build a roster, or win baseball games.

This organization is a massive collection of failures. They pile ridiculous decisions on top of each other, only outdoing their stupidity with an arrogance that refuses to learn from their mistakes. They are the of MLB, only they refuse to go out of business.

I’m far too attached to the childhood memories I have to ever root for another team, but if the M’s screw up this offseason and don’t completely overhaul the baseball operations department, hiring somebody who actually understands baseball, I’ll spend the next few years rooting for these people to fail miserably and be embarrassed publicly.

These people don’t deserve success. They deserve to be looking for new jobs.

Fire them all.

Finally, to wrap it all up, Bud Withers column from last Sunday on the summer in Pullman? WOW. Words can’t fully do it justice, but it should be required reading for WSU fans far and wide. The whole thing of wearing the purple jersey if you “dawg it” during practice is funny and all, and it’s great to hear how hard everyone is working. But the biggest thing that caught my eye was the account of how the team pledged to go dry this summer, yet someone violated the agreement, and what happened afterwards. The players meeting at 6 AM to go over the whole thing, the heart-to-heart talks that led Greg Trent to tears? That is the kind of stuff that is what changing the culture of a program is all about. It isn’t putting on a hat and standing at a podium and giving sound bytes to the media. It’s everything ELSE that you don’t see, the deep commitment to getting better on and off the field, that’s what it is all about. How can you not like the new message? It will take some time, but be patient, because these growing pains will pay off.

Happy Friday, and as always, GO COUGS!