Archive for the ‘Matt Mullennix’ Category

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap – Week Fourteen

November 25, 2008

A light-hearted radio show last night, as you could probably imagine. I’ll keep it brief and to the point, at least I’ll try to. Here we go:

  • Right out of the chute, of course, they talked about the feeling of winning the Apple Cup. Wulff said it was simply a “great day for everyone” and that he was so happy that they found a way to win the game. It wasn’t pretty but they found a way. Wulff said it was great for the fans and that they deserved to celebrate when you consider all they have been through this year, and he thanked them for their patience. But he was especially happy for his seniors. All they had been through in their career and then this season, to go out and win their last home game vs. UW is very special, and a moment that will live with them for the rest of their lives.
  • Bud asked him about the dance, compared by some to the Tommy Lasorda dance when Kirk Gibson hit that famous home run. Wulff said he honestly couldn’t remember what he did at that moment, and that he doubts he could re-create it! All he cared about was getting to the middle of the field to get to his players, and it was just a blur.
  • Wulff was asked about Hawaii this week. Wulff said that they are extremely tough at home, one of the best home field advantages around and they get up for BCS opponents. He said sometimes you feel like you are already down 14 points before you even take the field against them at Hawaii. But he said he is excited to see how his players handle it. He especially wants to see how his young players bounce back after such an emotional win, and that no matter what, it will be a good lesson for his young players. However it’s NOT like a bowl game to them. They are not getting there until mid-day Thursday, so they will literally have one day, and then it’s Saturday. They are approaching it as a business trip, and they are going to play a good game.
  • A caller asked about the progress the team has made lately, and suggested they watch tape of the Cal game, and then watch tape of the UW game to compare the efforts. Wulff said without question, as a staff they have felt that they were playing better. He stressed again that the scoreboard hadn’t been showing it lately, but there were areas that they were coming along. It’s hard to see it when the end-results have been so poor, but they finally took a step last week.
  • A caller asked about Jeshua Anderson’s chest injury, and noted that he seemed to stay in a few plays after it happened and didn’t look very good. Wulff said that Anderson thought he could shake off the injury and tried to play through it, but he just couldn’t and had to leave the game. They will re-evaluate him this week. The caller also asked about getting another QB for this year’s recruiting class. Wulff said right now they have one verbal commit at QB (he didn’t name him but it’s Jeff Tuel, a 3-star QB from Fresno). Wulff did mention that they MIGHT look at another QB for this class, but they have so many areas they want to address with their scholarships that they will likely just take one.
  • A caller asked why the PAC-10 has destroyed the tradition of rivalry week at the end of the season, and noted that all those games are now spread out over multiple weeks. Wulff said he agreed and wished it was like it used to be, and then hinted that something might be in the works? One thought was that the PAC-10 would move all the rivalry week games to the week of “championship week”, when the BIG 12 and SEC have their title games. Jim Sterk was in the room and Bud yelled out “what’s the deal Jim?” and Sterk just kind of shrugged and said “no comment”. Maybe the cat is out of the bag? Anyway, they also mentioned that the WSU 2009 schedule hasn’t been released or finalized in any way, so there might be some movement there.
  • A caller asked about the offensive line for next year, and how they are looking. Wulff said he was pleased with how the youth has played this year, thrown to the fire so to speak, and they are looking better and better. But he also pointed out that they only have ONE senior in their entire 12-man offensive line rotation, so 11 out of 12 will all be back next year. They also have some young players redshirting right now that they are really high on who will step right into the mix next year (Zach Williams?). Personally I’m excited to see how that o-line looks next year with another off-season of lifting and eating right, and a season of game experience under their belts. They might really take a big step next year.
  • The same caller asked about Gary Rogers and his attempt at a medical redshirt. Wulff said that Rogers has applied for it, but they really won’t know until this spring if they allow it. They really don’t know how it will go, but Wulff said he believes right now that it’s a long shot at best. The rule is that if you lost two full seasons due to injury, you could apply for that sixth year, but that isn’t exactly the case with Rogers. We’ll see. On a side note, Jake Locker applied already for an extra year of playing time and UW sources said he was denied the extra year, based on the fact that he played a full month of this season, plus his other year he missed was due to a redshirt, not an injury.


    The caller asked about how Marshall Lobbestael is doing. Wulff said that he is doing really well in his knee rehab right now, and they are pleased with his early progress. However, he said that he will very likely not be available this spring as they want to take it easy. But they are confident that he’ll be OK by fall camp. That is one of the hard parts of this season, losing Lobbestael so early in the year when it looked like he was going to get an excellent opportunity to learn on the fly. They really like him, and the kid has showed something to be excited about in the future.

  • A caller asked about the worst play in the playbook right now, the “jailbreak screen”. Even Jim Walden howled about it during the broadcast, and why they were still running that play was beyond him. Wulff said he agreed, and the timing has to be perfect on a play like that. However “we didn’t actually call that play this week.” Turns out Lopina checked off into the jailbreak screen play, and it obviously didn’t work out. It was a good read, as the defense was coming on a blitz, but it just didn’t work. Wulff said that play is great against the blitz, but we honestly haven’t been blitzed a whole lot this season.
  • A caller asked about the impact of having Dick Bennett talk to the team, and does Wulff use him at all as a resource? Wulff said that he does talk to him, and they talk about all sorts of things. But mainly they talk about the tough seasons in rebuilding, and what Bennett’s experiences were compared to what Wulff has gone through thus far. Wulff then went out of his way to say that “when you are rebuilding, there are tough things that all programs go through. And you can’t really listen to the outside criticism that always comes with it. Only people on the inside of the program REALLLY know what is going on.” Kind of some sharp criticism from Wulff for all the crap that has been written about them this year? But Wulff said that’s just part of the deal when you are trying to turn it around, and there will be some things they do that aren’t popular. Wulff also said that Bennett has given him some great advice, as far as doing things the right way, staying on course with his plan, don’t veer too far off the right path. But also don’t be afraid to re-evaluate what you are doing, and always think about the things you are doing and their impact on others.

    Most of all, Wulff loves and respects Bennett because of who he is and what’s he’s been through. The guy is a “program builder” and has been through exactly what Wulff is going through right now. He’s a tremendous resource. Look at where the hoops program was when Bennett showed up? Look at it NOW? I know it’s apples and oranges, hoops to football, but it’s still about turning around a culture and changing the way things are done, from the ground up. The road isn’t always a smooth one.

  • A caller asked about the D-line play, and how they seem to be stepping up their game a little bit. Wulff immediately pointed out the impact of Toby Turpin, and how well he’s played at nose tackle for the third straight week. He has been a big part of them playing better. Not that they dominated, of course, and UW’s offensive line was pushing on them all game long (and had about 50 pounds per man on each guy), but the line hung in there and fought hard all the way to the end. Wulff also said Ahmu, Mullennix and even Eichelberger did OK out there. Wulff also said that they really seem to like the 3-man defensive front! The players like it, and it also gives them a chance to get a little extra rest as they can rotate bodies in and out a little more by simply not having four defensive linemen on the field at once. Wulff did say that they will likely go back to a four-man defensive line next year, but they have taken to it pretty well this last half of 2008.
  • Bud asked about going for it on fourth and one and a half in the first OT. Wulff said that they not only wanted to get the first down, but they really believed they would get it. He wanted to keep staying aggressive in that situation and the sideline was happy they chose to go for it. Wulff wouldn’t say for sure if that was the defining moment, but he did mention that it could be, and that all programs have that “moment where you can build off an experience like that, something they can look back to and think about in the future as to how they went for it and got it in a tough situation.” Besides, Wulff also said “there was no guarantee UW was going to make their field goal, even if they didn’t make it!” and that brought a few howls from the crowd at the radio show!
  • A caller asked again about recruiting. Wulff said that it’s going well right now (they just got a new top-100 offensive line commit). But Wulff said that no matter what, he’s never seen a coaching staff work so hard at recruiting. These guys are giving everything they have to find some new talent, and there isn’t a coaching staff around who will outwork them in recruiting. They do believe there are some special players that they will get in this class, and that the hard work is going to pay off.
  • Nameck brought up “Cougar Pride” and how even in this tough year, it’s still out there. There was a story of a soldier in Afghanistan who got up at 3 AM to try and listen to the game online. When the Internet connection dropped, he called a friend in Washington and sat on the phone with him for the last hour of the game! Very cool. Nameck also brought up how this is the first-ever time in the 101-year history of the Apple Cup that WSU has won four out of five in the series, and that Matt Mullennix is the first-ever WSU player to be on the team that won four Apple Cup games. No other WSU player has ever won it four times. Very cool. Mullennix’s dad called into the show and thanked Wulff for the win, and that he was proud of Matt. His dad also said that it helped ease the sting of the 1975 game that WSU blew, where UW came from a couple of scores down late to win. That was a game in which Mullennix’s dad played in. Ouch.
  • One last look at the UW game – Wulff said the two biggest things were 1) they stuck with the run in the second half, and they knew they had to do that or else they couldn’t win, and 2) they didn’t lose the turnover battle! Wulff said again that they talked at halftime and decided no matter what, they were going to stick with the run. And of course, the run was a huge reason they won. The big TD by Mitz, but there were other times where they ran effectively with Dwight Tardy in the second half and even in OT. The 171 rushing yards were the most since the Portland State game.


    And the turnovers, finally, they didn’t lose the turnover margin battle! They only “tied”, giving it away once, but they took one away themselves. It can be a drastic difference when you aren’t giving the thing away three or four times a game, isn’t it? That’s one thing that was kind of lost in all the excitement, that they didn’t play hot potato with the football.

  • JT Levenseller – he WILL PLAY this week. Wulff said they “want to get him as many plays as they can this week” and get him some solid game experience. They also brought up the idea of a redshirt in the future, and Wulff said that is certainly a consideration. Unfortunately he didn’t get enough snaps this year and it wasn’t an ideal scenario for burning his redshirt, but we’ll see how that all plays out. He didn’t flat-out say it, but I kind of got the idea that we’ll see a lot of JT this week?
  • Finally, one last thing on Hawaii – Wulff said they have been running the same offense this year, and while they’ve played a few QB’s, they are still doing pretty well on offense. But where he said they have improved is their defense. They start nine seniors on defense, and they have a very strong, experienced, active defensive front. Some of their key backups are also seniors, so there is a lot of experience there. Hawaii also has a lot riding on this game. Even though they are 6-5 right now, they have to win this game to be bowl-eligible. If they lose it, they will likely miss out on a bowl game, even though they would be at six wins. So Wulff knows they will be highly motivated this week.

That’s about it for this week. A light-hearted show and a very appreciative crowd, and lots of congrats from the callers. Wulff still kept it in check, but you could tell he’s still on a high from that game. And in a year like this, who can BLAME THE GUY for being happy with how that game went down? Like Wulff said last week, the day he took this job and the whole “Cougars hunt and kill” comment, well, that was said for WSU fans, and deep down he’s a fan as well as the coach. He played at WSU and his Cougar pride runs as deep as anyone. So imagine how you would feel if you beat UW in double-OT?

ENJOY YOUR TUESDAY, and GO COUGS!

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Football Friday Lucky Week XIII: Crapple Cup

November 21, 2008


“I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray…”

“But when I woke up this morning, could’ve sworn it was judgement day…”

Greetings Cougar Nation! Welcome to Football Friday Week 13–Crapple Cup style.

Nation, I have to admit that I am both excited and on edge about this one.

I am excited because it is the 101st Birthday of the Apple Cup!

And if you’re a Coug, who in Holy Hell doesn’t get excited about this game no matter what our stinking record is???

At the same time, I am on edge because, for the first time in about 365 days, my streak of perfect Cougar Football projections is squarely on the line. Win this one, and I head to Hawaii with a second consecutive National Championship squarely in sight. Lose and I become a veritable BCS also-ran.

In terms of the game proper, I have to admit I am a bit at a loss. After all,I haven’t seen our team play in just about a month. So, given the fact that I haven’t seen what I haven’t seen, I am really left to guess about what will happen at 12:00 this Saturday. But, here is what I am looking for:

1) Washington’s Size versus our Iron Triangle.

As was noted in today’s Seattle Times, many a person in the print media has remarked that you can tell a WSU Football player anywhere simply by their lack of size. Conversely, while the UW lineman may be dumb, bad, AND slow, they sure are BIG and fat.

Of course, our defensive line is anything but(t). And our lack of size, strength, and depth may wind up being a really, really, really big problem for us once again.

Fortunately, there is many a tale about slower, less talented football teams that have won big games. Normally, those upsets are not only about getting the breaks, they’re also about how Team leaders inspire their teammates to believe–not that they COULD win–but that they are going to win the stinking game.

And this is where our Iron Triangle comes into play:

Nation, it is not only the performance, but the swagger and commitment that Greg Trent, A’i Ahmu and Matt Mullennix bring to this game that will be a HUGE deciding factor. If these three seniors adequately inspire the others on the defensive side of the ball, we will be squarely in this game–especially with the 3-3-5 which will WRECK the U’s pathetic passing game.

2) Play Makers Making Plays:

When your combined record is 1-101, it is easy to conclude that there are NOT very many playmakers on either roster. After all, if there were such play makers, then neither team would be 0-10 or 1-10…

For the UW, we know that they have burners at the receiver spot, injured but capable RB’s, and a QB that has a gun a la Dick Cheney in the fields of Texas. Powerful, yet erratic.

Where we are concerned, we have a QB with ZERO Touchdowns and TEN interceptions, two capable albeit erratic RBs, an All-American type receiver, an NCAA track champion at the other wide-out, and an honorable mention-type All-Conference tight end.

In other words, both QBs SUCK. And, with a balmy 43-degrees and rain in the forecast, you can bet that the passing game is going to look about at bad as Bad can get:


That said, with a TIE out of the question, somebody on one of these teams is going to have to make a play, right?

3) Homer Delirium and Turn-Overs

I was telling Sedihawk a month ago about watching an exhibition game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Sacramento Kings. For the past couple of years, I would occasionally talk up the upsides of Petro, Wilkins, Weezie, Collison, and company as I would dream about a resurgence of our then-Seattle SuperSonics. But, as I watched this basketball game, the TRUTH became horribly apparent to me:

THOSE GUYS ARE STINKING AWFUL PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYERS!!!!!

So, where our Cougs are concerned, it is really hard at this point not to wonder about whether or not our version of BAD is in an entirely different league as Washington’s. I tend to think not, but a 31-3 loss is not out of the question in my book.

4) Turnovers

Washington is really bad and they don’t turn the ball over much. We’re really, really bad and we turn it over a TON. Last time I checked, we’re -237 in turnover margin this year.

Obviously, for us to be able to hang in, we’re going to have to be AT WORST -1.

FINAL ANSWER:

I’ve gone back and forth on this one, Nation. But here is my bottom line:

1) I think we want it more than them.

2) They’re playing to not be “defeated” which is the same as playing “not to lose” in my book.

3) I think our leaders are stronger and better leaders than theirs.

4) I think that our players want to play for our coaches MUCH more than the other way around.

5) Both ground games will be mediocre and quasi-effective.

6) The rainy weather will take away the long passing game.

7) The game will be decided by the short passing game.

8) Our TE and WRs are better.

In the end, we head into Hawaii the worst 2-10 team of all time.

Cougars 24 Defeateds 21

Elsewhere:

Zona 38 Oregon State 37. Riley loses FANTASTIC bid for the RB with a late failed two point conversion (Put the Beavs in the RB if they win this one. NO WAY the Quack beats them next week if they escape).

Stanford 24 CAL 21. Poor QB play spells doom for the Bears, AGAIN.

BIG GAME;

Texas Tech 41 Clay Bennett University 35. Ever since the cheap chop block by the Defeateds, Clay Bennett University has gently headed south defensively. Texas Tech moves on to lose in the Big 12 Title Game–setting up another BCS Title game with a team that couldn’t win their own conference (Texas)

Enjoy the games. AND GO COUGS!!!!!

Sedihawk says:

Another year, another Apple Cup. First of all, a moment of appreciation for Alex Brink. The only WSU QB to hoist that Apple Cup trophy on three different occasions, no matter what history will say about the kid, he was always strong in this game. Last year was flipping fantastic, 27-for-40 for an AC record 399 yards and FIVE TD’s, including the game-winner in the final minute. And hey, Brink did become the top-ranked passer in WSU history in nine different categories. He never got to post-season play, but he sure got the most of what he had. Alex Brink, we salute you.

NOTE – if you would like to see a video of that final TD drive from 2007, check it out here.

But alas, it’s 2008. Although we can all agree that this is being talked about as the worst ever in the history of the series, and uh, yeah, it’s hard not to agree with all these assessments. The facts are facts, and have been painstakingly laid out for you here, there, and everywhere over this last week. It’s not a slump, it’s simply two teams that are, well…..
I can also say that, at least in my opinion, this WILL BE the lowest point for both of these programs. We are already assured that the 2009 Cougars will be better than the 2008 version, given the issues of experience gained from this year in so many young players, as well as some true quality talent currently stashed away in redshirt-land. It’s not blind homerism, but the 2009 Cougars will be better than 2008.

And even this Coug can honestly look at UW and say if the right coach gets in there, they could be walking into a situation that is, believe it or not, ready to win NEXT year. Not a PAC-10 title or anything like that, but one that could flirt with bowl-eligibility. Laugh all you want at our defeated brothers to the west, but when you have a junior-to-be QB next season, who will have healthy legs and all the talent in the world in Jake Locker, and a ton of frosh and sophomores who have learned their hard lessons this year? It very well could set up to be a breakthrough 2009 at Montlake. I’m serious.

A big question though is who that UW coach will be? There was a hot-n-heavy rumor a couple of nights ago that Jim Mora will be the next UW coach, and even suggested some high-level boosters were told of this. However, our dialed-in UW source downplayed it, big-time, and basically said relax, Mora is still a very, very, verrrrry long shot. And the reality is the only two people who know who UW’s next coach will be are Mark Emmert and Scott Woodward. End of story. They are likely to get their guy in early December, so ignore anything you hear right now until something official is out there. But in my own rumor-mongering, I do have a prediction as to who that coach will be…..

He was interested in 2004, and he’s interested again, today. Does the idea of Jeff Tedford at Montlake worry you? At first I was worried. He’s got an excellent reputation, he’s blazed a recruiting trail to Berkeley where they are nabbing NFL talent left and right, and his teams are built around a strong running game and some dynamic offenses, while not being afraid to change defensive schemes to meet the demands of opposing offenses in today’s game. Plus the guy has totally figured out that Duck spread offense, better than anyone else outside of Corvallis.

I think the more painful reality there is that he would take Jim Michalczik and Bob Gregory, both former Coug players from the 80’s who have turned into some fine college assistants and would likely follow Tedford north to Seattle.

But then I thought “You know what? WE need to worry about OURSELVES, and not freak out about who is at UW.” And I think, Coug Nation, that is the deal. No matter who they hire, whether it’s Tedford or someone else of higher-than-high profile, RELAX. We’ve got a plan in place and our guys have been hard at work since last December to turn it around. It is being rebuilt the right way, and it will come. But as the old saying goes, almost nothing of value comes easy, does it? Look at your own life for a moment. Look at where you are today. How much of that came easy? How much of what you have today was just given to you, or just happened? Unless you were born into wealth or won the lottery, it’s likely you are where you are today by paying some sort of price, through hard work and determination to make something of yourself.

And it really is the same thing in almost every walk of life. Think of the WSU basketball program. Not necessarily where it is today, as it looks again like Tony has a heck of a team for the third straight year. But think about the price that program paid to get where it is now. Think about Paul Wulff’s journey. Look at what he’s been through in his personal life. And in coaching, the guy started for free at EWU and lived in a small trailer at the beginning of his career. Think he doesn’t know the meaning of hard work and perseverence in the face of adversity?? Nobody will outwork Wulff on the recruiting trail, and he and his staff are on the same page. They will do all they can to protect the current crop as well as add to this class as signing day approaches. But honestly, relax. We’ll be alright.

OK, I’ve gone off the rails. Now on to this week.

This is a tough one to call, isn’t it? I mean you have a team in UW that has been bad, but they were at least close to beating a decent team in BYU. They were outgained in that game by a wide margin, but if not for Jake Locker’s penalty and the blocked extra point, they would have gone to OT. And isn’t it almost always the best bet to take the team that came from behind to force OT, with all the momentum in the world, and playing at home to boot? That game could have easily gone to UW’s side of things that day, and while it likely wouldn’t have made much difference in their 2008 fortunes, well, they were at least CLOSE to a win over a pretty good team.


Now look in the mirror. Can we actually say the same thing? Quick, what is the closest we’ve been to beating a BCS team this year? If you said UCLA for 25 points, a WSU Football Blog T-shirt is on the way to you right now(not really). But think about that for a moment. The CLOSEST we’ve been to beating a BCS team is a 28-3 loss? REALLY? Good Lord that’s bad.

That said, I’m not suggesting we don’t have a chance here. We do. But I boil this one down to what it’s always been about since week one, and that’s the one thing this team has done better (or worse) than anyone else in the country – TURNOVERS. I know, I know, it’s a bad word around here, but it cannot be ignored. I don’t know our worst-ever turnover ratio in school history, but I have to believe that minus-25 with still two more games to go has to be in the basement. But it’s not just giving the ball away all the time, but the lack of the ability to take it back that is also killing this team. And sadly, I don’t see it suddenly turning all around just because it’s Apple Cup. If they lose that turnover battle, they will lose this game.

All that said, I’m taking the underdog at home in a rivalry game. If you are ever unsure about a game like this, take the home ‘dog. And the betting line has gone down slightly. As Bob Condotta pointed out at the Times the other day, the line is trending back towards WSU. And as Condotta also pointed out, when the line has moved away from UW, you’ve subsequently seen it reflected in that week’s game. UW has actually played how the line has moved, if you can believe it.

In the end, I believe that UW does have slightly better players compared to the young skinnies we’ll roll out there. We’ll want it more, we’ll play with more passion and intensity in front of the friendly Martin Stadium crowd, and it will be a very tight game. But I think Ronnie Fouch makes a couple of big throws, and Ryan Perkins, injured kicking leg and all, boots one through in the waning moments, giving UW a 17-16 win. Sorry. I didn’t want to do it. I almost picked us to win this thing. But I simply believe they are slightly better. We’ll cover the line at home, but I think they will pull it out.

Other games (weird that almost half the conference has a bye this week?):

Oregon State 33, Arizona 30. The Oregon State Rose Bowl express once again finds a way. But this is a very dangerous game for the Beavs. They have yet again circled the wagons in spectacular fashion, and haven’t lost since choking away the game at Utah on October 2nd. And Arizona’s defense looks to have lost some steam, giving up 28 to us and then 55 last week.

CAL 27, Stanford 23. Cal has lost a couple lately, including a bitter loss last week in Corvallis. But they have revenge in mind from last year’s loss to Stanford. The Cardinal looked bowl-worthy a few weeks ago, but now wobble into this one at 5-6 and needing one more win to get to the postseason since Ty Willie roamed the Stanford sideline. It won’t happen. Cal has more weapons and will make a few more plays, and that will be it. But this might be the last season for a while that Stanford misses out on the post-season. With Harbaugh set to ink his contract extension, watch out for Stanford in ’09 and beyond.

BIG GAME:

Oklahoma 44, Texas Tech 40. The dream ends for the weirdo coach in Mike Leach. Oklahoma at home will get it done. And the debate really heats up for the BCS title game.

That’s it. ENJOY YOUR FRIDAY, and GO COUGS!

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap – Week Five

September 24, 2008


Week FIVE already? Wow, this thing is going fast. Anyway, this week’s radio show recap. I’ll try and condense it as much as possible but also hit on the key points.

  • Bud Nameck hosted this week, Bob Rob was unavailable but will call this week’s game. They started the show by talking about the injury to Kevin Lopina and Gary Rogers. Both were termed “scary” injuries, but the best news of all is that neither of them are life-changers and they should fully recover. Obviously Rogers is the more serious of the two and his football days could be done.
  • Wulff really went out of his way to express his disappointment about Rogers, and you could tell he felt awful for the kid. He also repeatedly said how great a job his parents did in raising such a wonderful young man. He really likes Rogers, and it’s just too bad all the way around the way this has worked out.
  • Lopina’s injury is less serious of the two, but it could keep him out for some time. Wulff said they are now under the belief that this is a three-to-six week injury, not the two-to-four week injury reported earlier in the day. They just have to take it easy and be careful with the recovery.
  • The QB situation now has Marshall starting, obviously, with Dan Wagner backing him up. JT Levenseller is the third QB, and Wulff termed him on “redshirt alert”, meaning if both QB’s go down, they will be forced to play him. One interesting angle to all this is that JT took a lot of snaps with the number two’s in practice, and Wagner only got a few reps in. They really want to see what JT can do with more practice time, so he’s getting a good look. Kind of strange in that we’ve already seen two QB’s go down, so while we like Marshall, who knows how long he’ll hold up under some serious pressure. Why Wagner isn’t getting a lot of reps in practice is a little odd, unless they are more serious about playing JT this year than they are letting on? Wulff reiterated that they really want to redshirt JT, so they are hopeful he won’t have to play. Wulff also went out of his way to claim how much progress JT has made so far, and they like what they’ve seen out of him.
  • Of course, the topic turned to Marshall. Wulff said that he brings a lot of intangibles that other QB’s don’t seem to have, and he’s a strong leader. He also said that the players seem to rally around him, and he brings good chemistry to the position. He touched on his competitiveness, saying he is REALLY competitive (can’t always coach that!). He also said that while he was somewhat surprised with his performance, he honestly wasn’t TOO surprised he did so well. He’s been working his butt off, studying film, etc, and he has confidence in what he can do.

  • A caller asked about Ocho Rojo’s grasp of the offense. Wulff said that he looked smooth out there, but they also didn’t really call anything that would make him uncomfortable. They wanted to keep things simple and run things that they knew he would do well with, but at the same time, the kid did well by moving the team and getting them into the endzone without any turnovers. Overall very pleased with Marshall….but Wulff wasn’t totally “gushing” about him. I get the drift that he’s just trying to keep everyone on this planet before we get too carried away.
  • Wulff did say they will give Marshall as much of the offense as he can handle, so they won’t try and coddle him too much. So while they will tailor the offense towards his strengths, they won’t simply remove a bunch of stuff from the playbook because he’s a frosh. He will get as much as he can take.
  • A caller asked about the no-huddle, and in particular, the calling of plays at the line. How can you prevent the defense from figuring out what you are doing if your QB is calling the plays right at the line? Wulff said they have a pretty intricate system of hand signals, and in all his years he’s never had anyone figure it out….EXCEPT FOR JERRY GLANVILLE! He said that last year, without question, Glanville stole their signals. There was a long stretch of their game last year where it was beyond obvious that PSU knew exactly what they were running. This wasn’t just being paranoid, but this was clearly Glanville’s staff stealing their signals. But on Saturday, Wulff had three coaches signaling in plays, and PSU had no clue what to do. That might be part of the offensive outburst? Wulff’s quote was “this year, we got him!” 🙂
  • Another caller asked about the sloppy play, with penalties, missed assignments, turnovers, etc. He said they try and handle that in practice, where they have a series of 12 plays that they must run as perfect as possible, all eleven guys. If they run it perfectly, that’s one less “gasser” they have to do at the end of practice. Run all 12 plays perfectly, they don’t have to do any “gassers”. He said that’s an incentive for discipline, but he really didn’t get into any individual punishments for the boneheaded stuff that might occur during a game. I don’t get the impression he’s got them out running stairs all day. But at the same time, with such a young team and a brand new system, etc, they probably need every second of practice time they can get in working on what they are trying to do in games?
  • But Wulff did go out of his way to again tout the unity council, made of up 15-20 players who meet every week to go over what’s going on with the team. It’s been a big thing so far, and it’s got some kids to really start to shine as leaders. He also said that the little mistakes are already starting to clean up, and it will get better and better as the season goes on. They ARE getting better.
  • Another called asked what the heck is going on with the d-line? Here you have Mullennix sliding inside to tackle, but he’s clearly not a tackle. And you have probably your best linebacker in Andy Mattingly playing defensive end, and he’s not making an impact. What gives? Wulff said that right now, they like Mullennix inside at tackle only on passing situations. Since PSU was such a passing team, they thought he gave them their best pass-rushing option on the inside. He also addressed Mattingly, and basically said that you might see Mattingly back at strong-side linebacker at some point this season or next season. He said that there are some things that Mattingly does at linebacker that are great, but, there are others that he really doesn’t do very well, at all. And, Wulff really likes having Kooyman, Mattingly and Mullennix as their primary defensive ends, at least for now. But the bottom line is that these changes for both guys are more out of necessity rather than by choice. They just don’t have the depth or experience up front, so they are mixing and matching the best they can.
  • Wulff talked about Oregon, and raved about their running game. He said it is the best running game in the Pac-10, and 4th in the nation right now. Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount are a fantastic combination, two of the best in the conference. But their offensive line is really a concern. Four seniors, and they are excellent as a unit. He also raved about the tight end, who is an all-conference guy in Ed Dickson. He did say that they will have an inexperienced QB back there, whoever it turns out to be, and that Darron Thomas, the frosh, is the better thrower of the group. But you get the idea that they are expecting Oregon to run it as much as they possibly can. Wulff said the key will be to try and prevent the big play. He said they will NOT stop their run, they will only be able to slow it down, but as long as they tackle well and not give up the big play, he believes they will be ok. He also said the tackling has been better, and in grading the game, they only counted two missed tackles vs. PSU.
  • Wulff also said how much better things were with having Xavier Hicks and Alfonso Jackson at safety. He said they have a lot of leadership back there and they are much stronger down the middle of the defense. He said they make the coaches look a lot better when they are on the field.
  • Someone asked about the article in the Seattle Times last week, about the whole deal with nutrition and putting muscle on these kids, leadership, etc. Wulff said that the biggest thing is that this is an area, no doubt about it, that has slipped over the last several years. He said part of it is youth and immaturity, but a lot of these kids just have no clue how to eat properly. That’s such a huge part of getting stronger, in how they play, how they feel, and that they take it very seriously. The weight room and practice field is important in terms of getting better, but if they aren’t eating properly, then all that hard work might not pay off.
  • Wulff touched on the O-line. He said they are still trying to get things figured out there, and that there were some mistakes on Saturday. However both hits that took out the QB’s were NOT the entire fault of the O-line. He said that in the play they lost Lopina, the blindside shot where the linebacker came free off the edge, there was a miscommunication. Lopina was supposed to check the running back over to that side of the line to help pick up the blitz, but it didn’t happen. Therefore the blitzer came totally free. The hit that took out Rogers was simply a late hit, and shouldn’t have happened. In a normal circumstance he shouldn’t have even been hit. But he did say the line is still a work in progress.
  • Finally, Wulff talked about what they need to do this week on offense. He said the biggest thing, above all else, is to take care of the football! They still haven’t done that in four games, and they cannot afford turnovers. The other thing is to have some balance on offense, in particular trying to get the ground game going. Oregon is very strong vs. the rush, really shutting down Purdue and Boise State on the ground, so it will be a challenge to get that balance going. But they have to keep Oregon’s defense honest and keep Lobbestael out of obvious passing situations. Finally, Lobbestael and the passing game has to be efficient, and most of all, move the chains. They have to be consistent and generate some decent drives in this game.

So there you have it. This week’s show. Overall Wulff sounded better, and coming off his first win, you can understand it. But he wasn’t overly boisterous or gushing about how well they played, etc. Like he said after the game on Saturday night, they can feel good about it, but they have to get right back to work and get ready for the next one, just like they had to move past the other losses. Yes, they are happy they got win #1 out of the way and all that, but they still have so far to go. I think that is what we are learning about Wulff, in that he’s not going to be too much of a rah-rah type of coach. He’s not the buttoned down CEO type, or flat-out dry and secretive like some other coaches in this state…..but he’s not going to go High School Harry like Pete Carroll and jump around either. He’ll show some emotion, but, he’s also the leader and wants to stay on an even keel.

We’ll be back tomorrow with Football Friday…only on Thursday. Enjoy your Hump-day, and GO COUGS!