Archive for the ‘Paul Wulff radio show’ 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?


Paul Wulff Radio Recap – Week Thirteen

November 20, 2008

Hmm, lucky week 13 perhaps? We’ll find out. But without further adieu, this week’s radio show, condensed-version style. Bud Nameck in the host chair for another week:

  • Bud opened the show by, of course, going right to the quotes from his press conference last year regarding UW when Wulff took the job. Paul didn’t exactly apologize for those remarks, saying “they were meant for Cougars”, something he mentioned before in the press. But he said hey, I’m the WSU coach and also a former player and a big fan. I’m not afraid of it. So why hold back? I don’t know about you, but I think he endeared himself to a lot of Cougs when he said what he said. It was, at the time anyway, a nice change from the “oh, golly gee” and a departure from the whimsical, folksy stylings of one Bill Doba.
  • Bud asked him about the practice and routine for this week, and knowing that it is Apple Cup week, are they doing anything different? Wulff said that they are trying to stick to the routine and the normal practice and preparation, but the veteran players know that it’s a special week. The rookies and other players who haven’t been in an Apple Cup don’t really understand. Even Wulff said he himself didn’t really get it until he played in one. Things are definitely dialed up a notch. And once you actually play in an Apple Cup, it’s truly an awesome event and you never forget it.
  • He said as far as their preparation, it is still a football game in terms of the x’s and o’s. But it is such an emotional game that it is always something on the coaches minds, about how to channel those emotions in the right way. However Wulff did say that overall, in the Apple Cups he was a part of as a player, they were relatively clean games. He said that the fans more or less get after it a little more than the actual players do!
  • Bud asked about the 12 noon kickoff and if that was an advantage or disadvantage? While the fans don’t exactly like it, Wulff likes the idea of getting up and getting ready to play right away instead of waiting around for the game. Another thing to consider is that they have invited some recruits in for this week’s game. Because of the early start time to the game, the coaches will have plenty of time to spend with the recruits AFTER the game. If it was a later start, that wouldn’t necessarily be the case and they could feel rushed, but not this week. A quick check of this week’s visits show Lynnwood’s Geoff Meinken, who has switched from WSU commit to “soft” verbal and is getting big love from Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. Might be a good move to get as much time as you can with this kid?
  • Bud asked about practice and the injury situations. Kevin Lopina practiced on Wednesday, so he is all set to go for the game. Andy Mattingly practiced again, and while he was a little bit limited, he is still probable to play. Tony Thompson is back at tight end, and should be set. And Tyrone Justin should return to the secondary. Not exactly magic healing waters with the Apple Cup looming, but there are some kids coming around.
  • Bud asked briefly about the ASU game. Wulff said right off the bat that they did a good job up front defensively and getting pressure on Rudy Carpenter. He was quick to point out that Toby Turpin is a big part of it, and that he has really improved as the season has gone on. The trickle-down of his return has allowed Ahmu to slide outside, and they clearly have found their best three defensive linemen. It sure sounds like it will be a three-man attack again this week, as they finally seem to have found something, ANYTHING, that actually works this year.

    Wulff said the hardest part about that game was the early missed opportunities. They had some decent drives early in the game, but couldn’t come away with anything. The missed field goal hurt their momentum, and they also had several dropped balls that could have turned things in their favor. But overall he was pleased with the defense, holding an experienced offense to 24 offensive points (remember seven of those were on a fumble return for TD).

  • Wulff touched a bit on the kicking game. Right now it looks like the job is going to go back to Nico Grasu. Wulff said they have wanted one of their kickers to rise up and flat-out grab that job this year, but it just hasn’t happened, at least not yet. But Grasu gets his chance this week.
  • A caller asked if Wulff and the rest of the coaches do any type of visits to other programs in the off-season, or even visits to NFL teams? Wulff said yes, without a doubt they will do that. They had always done that at EWU and they will do that again this year. Proximity was nice when the Seahawks trained in Cheney and Wulff used to watch their practices all the time, and took some things that they would do and use it for himself.

    Wulff said that without question, you can’t learn enough in this business, and the best way to learn is to look at what others are doing. He has a goal of taking at least one fundamental thing from these visits with other coaches and use it or adapt it for themselves. He also said that they are going to try and bring in some coaches to WSU and meet with them that way, therefore eliminating some distractions the coach might have if WSU coaches were visiting them. But they will definitely do that this year.

  • A caller asked about the high frequency of injuries this year, what’s the deal?? Wulff said they have a belief that youth and inexperience leads to a higher level of injuries. Mainly the idea is that the younger the player, the less physically prepared the player will be to handle the rigors of the PAC-10. When they are lined up across fourth or fifth-year players who have been in their programs for several years, lifting weights and eating right, they are often times over matched. Young talent needs time to develop properly, and to throw a young kid out there against that kind of size and strength can lead to injuries!

    Wulff then went again into the idea of building “layers of depth”. Having fifth-year seniors, fourth-year juniors, and third-year sophomores are his goal of the kinds of players he wants playing in games, and you build it out that way. Fifth, fourth and third-year players are usually more fit, strong and mature vs. the teams that play a ton of youth. Get the kids physically ready to play, the injuries should decrease in a big way.

  • Wulff was asked about the outcome of this game, and what it really means to the program. Wulff said something similar to what he said earlier this week, in that in reality, the outcome of this game won’t drastically alter either program. One game never makes or breaks a program. But if you win it, it can make you feel a little better in your gut! But Wulff went out of his way to say that the outcome won’t have much impact on the program overall. He said at least in recruiting, kids will rarely pick a school based on the outcome of one game. If they do? They aren’t the kinds of kids they are after anyway! Sort of like the school that is constantly changing their uniforms, and it gets reported that some recruits pick their school based on the uniforms or other things? Wulff said they aren’t the types of kids they want to build their program with anyway.
  • Bud asked about the specialness of senior day, and how this is it for key guys like Brandon Gibson, Greg Trent, etc. Wulff said that it’s different for him because he’s only been here one year, but it is also very emotional because he understands the sacrifice many of these players have made in their playing careers.

    He has been there and walked the road before, so he knows what they are going through. It just plays into the feeling of how much they would like to get a win this week and send those seniors out right in their last home game.

  • Bud asked about the game itself this week. Wulff said that he thinks some people are going to be surprised, and that he believes it will be a very good game. He said that as always in a rivalry game, you can basically throw out the records (especially this year!). It’s important to both teams, and to the fans. It should be a fun, exciting day with memories for some that will last forever.
  • Bud asked about UW’s offense. Wulff said that without Locker, they are different. But Wulff said he has seen some decent things out of Ronnie Fouch on tape. He has a strong arm, and he’s a redshirt frosh so he’s been in the program for almost two years now. He says he has the arm to make big plays, with more than enough strength to throw it deep or even across the field where you might underestimate he can get it to a certain spot. Arm strength is not an issue with Fouch.

    But again, he is young, and has a lot of freshman and sophomore wide receivers he is throwing to. While they are athletic and quick, they are also young, prone to mistakes, and it’s part of the reason they have struggled this year.

  • Wulff did have good things to say about UW’s O-line. They are big and experienced, led by Garcia up front, so they have seen a lot of things. It will be a challenge for our defense to play well against their size. Wulff then talked about WSU’s offensive line, and that he believes they have come a long way in recent weeks. He singled out Steven Ayers, BJ Guerra, Andrew Roxas, Micah Hannam and even Brian Danaher as all young players who have improved of late.

    As a fan, I have to say that I am pretty optimistic as to how the offensive line will come together in the future. There is so much youth that has been out there this year, but the core of these guys will all be returning next year and even the year after that. Another year in the system, eating and lifting and now some game experience, you have to believe these tough lessons learned this year are going to pay off.

  • Wulff then went on to talk about his own struggles they have had this year. And the first thing out of his mouth? You guessed it – TURNOVERS. They have now turned it over 35 times, and have only created 11 takeaways themselves. Yep, that’s a MINUS-24 turnover ratio, the worst in the nation and one of the worst in WSU history. Wulff said that he really believes it’s those turnovers that have led to so many lopsided scores this year, where they are literally giving the opposing team 21 or 28 points PER GAME in simply giving the ball away in terrible situations. And of course we know the trickle-down from that, where the defense is on the field a lot more than it should be, it gets worn out, then suddenly it’s a landslide. They MUST LEARN TO TAKE CARE OF THE BALL as an offense!
  • Wulff did clear up the Apple Cup “legend” about his appendix and playing in the Apple Cup. He hung it on Mike Price, who grew the legend himself. But in reality it was 2 1/2 weeks between the time from Wulff having the surgery to playing in the Apple Cup. Wulff wasn’t sure, but the last he heard it, Price was saying it was the same week or 8 or 9 days, something like that. He was sorry to spoil this “legend” but that’s the honest truth.
  • Finally, one last thing for this week. Bud pointed out that if WSU can win, it will be four of the last five Apple Cups in WSU’s favor. Something that has never happened before in the history of the series. Wulff said he was well aware of that, and that they want to win this thing, bad!

So there you have it. Actually a pretty good show this week, with more energy and enthusiasm compared to some recent weeks. I couldn’t help but come away from listening to the show that they are excited and also very focused on this game. Take that however you want, but it did seem different compared to what we’ve heard lately.


Paul Wulff Radio Recap – Week Twelve

November 12, 2008

Big Time Bud Nameck in the chair yet again. So here….we…..go:

The show opened up with a shout out to the vets on Veteran’s Day. As Wulff said, a “great day for those who served our country” and the coaches reminded the players of exactly WHY they got the day off from school today.

  • Practice – This week for ASU they are inside the bubble and cranking up the heat. Wulff said it was good for the speed of the indoor turf and it’s working well to get ready for what they’ll run on at ASU, and the practices have been good. They want to continue using that bubble. But while it can get warmed up, it’s not quite Tempe heat. But it’s sure better than rainy and wet.
  • Bud asked about any momentum from the AZ game – Wulff believes that there was some carry over to today in practice. The kids are getting into a rhythm and building confidence right now. As usual, they want to keep building and getting better. But of course, Wulff said they still can improve in many areas. They want their focus to be on what they can control and continue to do build on those things.
  • Bud asked about injuries – Kevin Kooyman will be back this week, and that will help the line in a huge way. Andy Mattingly MAY be back but is a question mark coming off the ankle. Devin Frischknecht will be back as well on offense. Tyrone Justin might play a little more this week. Myron Beck broke his hand and he won’t be back this week. Beck has two broken bones in the hand and had some soreness today, so this week is pretty much out of the question. However he might be back next week (UW).
  • Bud asked about the video of the AZ game and what he saw? Likes? Still need to improve? Wulff said they made some plays, convert on third downs, and when we got in red zone we scored. Also pleased with the more consistent o-line play, better pass protection than before and it really helped Lopina settle down and make throws. He really wants to keep building off this effort!
  • Right now there is a long-snapper problem. Wulff said the current snapper is questionable, and they lost Tony Thompson to concussion vs. AZ. Wulff did mention that Chris Prummer can snap if Zach Enyeart the main long snapper can’t go. Nameck joked “You CAN’T BRING Ferris Saxon great JEFF ROBINSON OUT OF RETIREMENT like the Seahawks did!” Ok then.
  • A called asked about Louis Bland and some sort of unsportsmanlike/personal foul, where Bland was seen yelling at the ref with his helmet off. The caller mentioned two or three personal fouls, and if Wulff gets a good explanation on these things? Do refs explain themselves based on these calls? Wulff said they are calling things pretty tight. The incident with Bland was that there was some real pushing back and forth with another kid, where the AZ player started to rip his face mask. Bland pushed back, got caught, and got the flag. It happens often, where if you retaliate you usually get caught, and part of a youthful mistake on Bland’s part. Bland tried to explain it to the ref but the ref didn’t see it.
  • There was another penalty where Matt Mullennix hit an o-lineman behind the play and they nailed him on it. And finally we had a horse collar penalty called against us. The caller asked how do you treat these kinds of issues with your players? Wulff said that they need to continue to create a culture for how you work and play. Don’t get caught up in personal battles on the field. Don’t get too sensitive to it with your players though, or else kids play tentative. Wulff has seen it go both ways where kids will be too tentative if you are too hard on them on those types of things. Teach them to play hard and educate them and sometimes things happen and you just let it roll off your back. As long as personal fouls are not a pattern then sometimes the personal battles happen.
  • Wulff was asked about Stoops of Arizona. Wulff said his behavior has the reputation of being a little out of whack but he is a class act. The umpire working the game is retiring, and this was his last game. Stoops sought out the umpire and gave him the game ball after the game. Classy move. Wulff would go on to say that watching film on AZ you can see Stoops go a little crazy. They have had some laughs watching him twist and contort with the action.

  • Caller asked, how does the team feel about apple cup? Wulff said they aren’t really thinking about it, and are only thinking about ASU right now. They want to improve and only goal is ASU. We’ll think about that opponent on Sunday… but we know who that is….
  • Bud asked about ASU and Erickson. Wulff said they are good football team but the record doesn’t show it. They have lost some close games but have a lot of talent, with a senior QB, senior running back and lots of weapons. Bud asked about his first-ever game as head coach in 2000, and it was EWU at Oregon State and Dennis Erickson. EWU played hard and lost 21-19 in Corvallis, and Wulff said they had a chance to win that game. Wulff said it was special because they played so hard against a very good team, as OSU went 11-1 and beat ND that year in the Fiesta Bowl.
  • Bud asked what did he borrow from Erickson? Wulff said the competitive nature as coach and how that rubbed off on players. It was evident early on that winning is first and foremost under Erickson, and Wulff agrees with in a lot of ways. But also Erickson makes it fun. Erickson’s staff intrigued Wulff more than anyone else he was around in terms of wanting to get into coaching. He was only around him 2 years but it was enough to understand it. A lot of former Erickson players and coaches have moved on and are coaching today, all over the country. But one interesting aspect is that Erickson has his “core” guys who are with him, guys who have been with him along the various stops in his career. It shows a real loyalty that some people feel for Erickson.
  • Bud asked about the three-man defensive line. Of course injuries had everything to do with it and we were totally undermanned on the d-line for AZ. They only went with the 3-man line on Thursday’s practice! They made the adjustment and Friday they had to do a lot of changes to the d-line in the different responsibilities, etc. Based on the circumstances, Wulff felt the kids did a great job, made some plays behind the line, and brought it the whole game. Toby Turpin did a great job, as he just got the cast off his broken hand and his level of play has been elevated. Wulff is very encouraged by what he sees out of Turpin, the big sophomore. Between Turpin, Ahmu and Mullennix, they played EVERY SNAP on defense and they did a good job. Wulff was very proud of their effort. Ahmu moved outside for the first time, but for what we asked him to do he did a good job, and he got some pressure and was physical on the edge. Wulff said it was a good changeup for us even though we had to do it on the run, but it worked out OK.
  • A caller asked about talent evaluation on recruits, and after they come in they sometimes move positions – what’s the deal? How do you decide to move a player to the other side of the ball? Wulff said high school kids will play where the coaches think it will help them the best in high school but doesn’t mean it will work with his talents and instincts on the next level. Some have better defensive instincts and personality vs. offensive side of the ball. Over time you learn to see the traits that each position needs and what you want at different positions. A lot of times you’ll see a WR in high school do well but is flexible and has great feet, and with his instincts and personality could be a very good corner. Little things like that. You get an idea of what you look for by position. For the line, on D-line you are looking for athletic ability, quickness and speed but not necessarily the biggest players. You want the ability to pursue and see and react to the football. For offensive line you look for the big frame and put on the right amount of weight and strength. You also want balance from a player on the o-line. Wulff has been doing it a long time and all coaches look for different things (15 years for Wulff). Finally, Wulff was very clear when he said we HAVE TO get our O and D lines at a high level of play! We will get there, it takes time but we will get there.
  • Bud asked about the idea of changing positions with recruiting. At times you will see high school coaches move a player knowing he is better suited at the college level to play that position. Does Wulff talk to high school coaches about moving players? Wulff said they do at times ask and feel out the player and coach and see if they are open to the position you want them. Wulff mentioned Mike Price, and after he took the WSU job he knew that in order to compete, the defense had to get better. Price’s biggest priority was they would put their best athletes on defense. Wulff said if a player can be an impact player on defense, that is where he is going to play. An impact player COULD be on offense but if he plays defense, he will be on defense. Wulff said we want to get more and more speed on defense and will do what they can to make that happen. But Wulff also said he just likes football players and guys who make plays. They don’t have to look the best or be the biggest, but get a bunch of “football” players and we will be a good, competitive team.
  • Bud asked again about ASU – Carpenter 40 consecutive starts and now over 10,000 passing yards in his career, the 9th ever to do it in the Pac-10. Wulff said their o-line is young and inexperienced, and they haven’t been real consistent on offense. It goes to show you that as good as Rudy Carpenter is, you need the support around you or it doesn’t work.

    Wulff then said it will be a challenge but he believes they will go down and play well. They have to get pressure on Carpenter, especially in predictable passing situations and attack their passing game. But a big part of that is stopping the run early and putting them in those situations. If they can’t do that, then it will be very difficult to slow them down. RB Keegan Herring came back vs. UW and ran really well, and Wulff said he’s a very good back. ASU did pretty well run blocking vs. UW and Herring is a talented guy who gave them a boost.

  • A caller asked “What happens in the future when we are 9-0 and Alabama comes calling? What will you say to that??” After some stunned laughter, Wulff said “It’s funny but I haven’t had that question this year! Thank you!” 🙂 Wulff then said when he left high school, he chose WSU over other schools. This is home and he believes in this place. It’s an easy sell and ingrained inside of him. He never looks at the “greener side of the fence”. Wulff believes that where you stand can be as green as you make it. He still feels blessed to be at WSU and is very fortunate. NOT LOOKING AT ANYTHING like that! But he would love to be in the situation of competing for the Pac-10 in a few years. He then went on to say that he believes in the work ethic of the staff, that NOBODY WILL OUTWORK US – “I guarantee it” – and we will fight our way back into this thing.
  • A Question from crowd – knee braces and linemen. The Cougar line isn’t wearing knee braces right now. Wulff said that while playing and then coaching last 15 years, his belief is that braces don’t matter unless you have an injury. He has seen kids hurt with or without knee braces. But as a staff, they believe that if they want to wear them, fine, but if they don’t want to wear them, that’s fine too. Some programs make their linemen wear knee braces, but they don’t do that here.
  • Finally, Bud asked about the ASU defense – Wulff said they are stout in their line and linebackers. Very few teams have run well on them. Even Georgia didn’t move the ball up and down the field. They are very tough. They have good speed in the secondary and overall just play really solid defense. At the same time, if we do some things we are capable of we will score some points. Wulff also mentioned a quick start and how important that could be on the road. Start off strong and build off that, the longer we can stay in the game the more confidence we will have and we will keep fighting hard. And Wulff said he would love to see ourselves in position to win a game, and to see how the young players will perform in some tight situations so they can learn and grow. Hopefully this is the week.

That’s it for this week. A pretty upbeat tone all the way around, and you can tell they believe they did some good things vs. Arizona.


Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap – Week Eleven

November 6, 2008

Yes, another week, another radio show. This one on Wednesday due to the historic election on Tuesday, but still, the show goes on. They actually cut the show short 15 minutes early and brought on the soccer coach, so I turned it off at 7:45. Also note that the next few weeks will also be on Wednesday, due to the hoops season firing up, so we’ll have our usual recap on Thursday. Anyway, on to this week:

  • Bud in the host chair again. He asked Wulff first about the election and what the players thought. Wulff said they didn’t discuss it a whole lot but knew it was being talked about by a lot of them. He also said that at the end of their team meeting on Tuesday, they always wrap the meeting by chanting “1-2-3 GO COUGS!” This time, he said at least half of them said “1-2-3 GO OBAMA!” Kind of funny. Wulff didn’t say a whole lot about the election or politics or anything, clearly not an area they were going to go.
  • Once again, Wulff said they have had some very good practices this week. But he was quick to point out that he thought they practiced really well the week leading up to Stanford, and that didn’t work out. Wulff did say that they did, in fact, do some OK things against Stanford early on, and it’s actually true. They were within about 50 total yards of offense from Stanford in the first half. But the mistakes continue to drag this team down, and as soon as a couple of them happen early, it becomes an avalanche.
  • Nameck asked about the strength of the PAC-10 compared to the SEC, and how it’s hurting USC’s BCS rating. Wulff said that he still thinks that the PAC-10 is a brutally tough conference, and that the SEC might not be all that. BLASPHEMY, I know, to many NCAA fans! But mainly Wulff pointed out that in the SEC, you only play seven conference games, total, and that’s it. You can stock up on some weaker out-of-conference teams to pad your stats and victory totals. Personally I can’t support that argument myself, as we’ve seen enough of the SEC to know that it’s pretty bad-ass while this might one of the weakest PAC-10 conferences, outside of USC, that we’ve ever seen. But whatever.
  • Arizona was brought up pretty quickly. Wulff is hoping for a decent crowd, and that is usually the case on Dad’s Weekend. But Arizona is having their breakthrough season, and Wulff said they are easily in the top three teams in the conference in terms of overall talent. They have a lot of speed, they are very physical up front, and hey, they’ve been pretty HEALTHY this year! We know how important that can be.
  • A caller asked if Wulff could cool it with being so negative on his players, and then went into another question about recruiting in-state talent. Wulff didn’t acknowledge the negative question, and instead said they are working hard on some in-state kids and will continue to do so all the way up until signing day. The caller than slipped in a “how are you dealing with this nightmare of a season?” Wulff said that it has been tough, clearly the toughest situation of his career. But he said the good news is that this situation is something that can be fixed! He admitted he’s been through a lot in his personal life, but at least this situation can actually be fixed (hard to argue with that logic when you think about his mother and first wife). Wulff said that you can’t always grow without some adversity and/or the real tough times, and he still believes that this team is growing as he speaks. Wulff finally said that there are some very good pieces here, and that they are taking some decent steps forward.
  • Another caller asked about some of the younger players in the program that we aren’t seeing right now, players who will be on the field next season (Kaddy mentioned this in comments the other day). First Wulff brought up James Montgomery.

    Wulff said that Montgomery is an exceptional talent and will be a HUGE BOOST to the running game next season. You could hear it in Wulff’s voice, but he can’t wait until Montgomery can play. While we’ll only get Montgomery for two seasons of on-field playing time, it should be worth it. The next name brought up was Brandon Jones. Another Cal transfer as a defensive back, he has looked really good in practices this year. Like Montgomery, we’ll see him for two seasons of playing time starting in ’09. Bernard Wolfgramm was next, and Wulff said he has played extremely well in practices. They are excited to get him in games next season and will really add something to the defensive front. Another defensive tackle brought up was Jesse Feagin. Feagin played in ’07, but is redshirting this year. He will be back in the rotation at tackle next year and they really are hopeful about him. Finally, Zach Williams, an offensive tackle, is another guy they are thrilled about. A “gifted” guy who is strong and light on his feet, he will be in the offensive tackle mix next year. He even stood in at times last week at running back to try and simulate Toby Gerhart, so you can imagine he’s pretty athletic.

  • Some true frosh redshirting right now who Wulff brought up were Cory Mackay and Andrei Lintz, as well as a big safety in 6-2, 200 lb LeAndre Daniels, who has looked really good in practices recently (As a listener, one can hear it in Wulff’s voice when he says he believes they are going to be better with some of this younger talent on the field next year).
  • ON that same tone, a caller asked about how he’s dealt with knowing that he has some good young talent, yet has held off with redshirting many of them. Wulff said it’s been tough, but it’s a necessary thing. The only true frosh who are playing right now are purely out of necessity, but if he had his way, all recruits would redshirt that first year (we’ve heard this before). But then Wulff went deeply into why – he wants to do this thing THE RIGHT WAY. He understands that people don’t have a lot of patience these days, and at times, neither does he. But he also understands that the quick fix can be the worst possible thing when you are trying to build a program. He said sure, you could go with the quick fix and play all the youth immediately or get a bunch of JC guys and put them out there right away. But with a quick fix can come a quick fall, and the slower way to build and sustain success is to do it the right way. Wulff brought up some of the recent successful WSU teams, and how those teams were built. It was done the right way, built from the ground up, and that is what they are going to try and do here. But a big part of that is to avoid the quick fall after a successful group comes through, and that’s where the building with layers and layers of depth comes into play (Oregon State is the perfect example of building depth with Mike Riley’s approach, vs. the Erickson way which is to interject JC’s and youth immediately to win now, and worry about tomorrow some other day).
  • Arizona was brought up again. Wulff mentioned that the biggest difference he’s seen from them is that they are running the ball this season so much better than last year. A big reason is because of Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin, two smallish, faster backs who have really given them a nice balance to what they are trying to do. They are the complete opposite of what they had seen out of Stanford’s power running game, so it will be quite the contrast. But they can kill you through the air, with WR Mike Thomas and TE Rob Gronkowski both big-time players. And of course, the senior QB element here with Willie Tuitama.
  • Their offensive line got some good mention as well, regarded as strong and physical. But again, even with Sonny Dykes coming from Texas Tech as the OC who created this “Air-Zona” passing attack, it’s the running game that has been the biggest reason why they have had success this year. In fact, Arizona has actually run the ball more times than they’ve thrown it in 2008! That’s not something that you would think, given their reputation.
  • Wulff was also impressed with their defense. It is better than people think, and very impressed with their back seven, with four seniors and three juniors among the starting linebackers and secondary. They are athletic, fast, play hard, and again, they’ve been healthy this year. Wulff said he was very impressed with how they played against USC, holding the Trojans to their lowest point total of the season.
  • Injuries were quickly brought up. Wulff said BJ Guerra is very questionable this week, and he was disappointed because he thought Guerra has been showing a lot of upside lately. Both Micah Hannam and Vaughn Lesuma are still dinged up, but they should both play. Wulff also mentioned that Lopina is getting better and better, and didn’t really address how that will affect J.T. Levenseller’s playing time (Boo! WE WANT JT!).
  • A caller asked about the workouts during the season, and just how much these kids are able to lift during the actual year. Wulff said that players who travel will get two to three lifting sessions in per week. But the redshirts go in at least four days a week – Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. And the redshirts are up at 5:30 in the morning hitting the weights! Wulff said that builds discipline and chemistry, and it’s a good time for them to be together as a unit. But they are working hard to get bigger and stronger.
  • Finally, Nameck reminded Wulff that they haven’t scored a point in 10 quarters now, not since the 2nd quarter of the Oregon State game. Wouldn’t it be nice to get some points early and put this behind you?? “ABSOLUTELY.” Wulff would love to get off to a quick start, get some points, and try to build some momentum and confidence. It is very important to what they want to do this week (and every week).

So there you have it. A bit of a lighter recap, as I’m trying to just touch on the highlights of what you, the reader, would give a rip about. But they cut it short for 15 minutes, so, this is about it.

Enjoy your Thursday, AND GO COUGS!

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap – Week Ten

October 29, 2008

Week ten already? Is that right? Wow. Well, no time to waste, so we’ll get right after it with the usual radio show recap:

  • Bud Nameck in the big boy chair this week, hosting the show. Leading off, Nameck asked how the bye week went. What did the coaches do? Wulff said that they were recruiting hard, with seven coaches hitting the road on Wednesday (the NCAA max you can have out at once is seven coaches). The coaches hit Utah, California, Oregon and Washington. Saw some high school games, saw some coaches, and continue to find players emerging in their senior year. They are still looking for kids who want to be Cougs. The more rocks we turn over the more we will find. It also takes a lot of work and effort in recruiting. But Wulff said he is “amazed at this staff’s attention to detail on recruiting and the energy, the effort.” EVERY guy is on the same page in regards to recruiting, and he’s never been around a staff quite like this.
  • They talked briefly about how the heck you keep all that recruiting information organized? Recruiting coordinator Rich Rasmussen uses a recruiting radar software program that keeps it all under control. It’s also great for compliance and keeps a large database for recruits. It allows you to dissect information to get a read on the vitals of kids you are recruiting, etc.
  • Bud asked about an update in recruiting, without getting specific in terms of player names (which he obviously can’t do). Wulff said that they just got two verbals (you can see them here in Quayshawn Buckley and Jamal Atofau). But he also said that we are really close on a few more commits, and they should come shortly. But they are going to recruit, hard, all the way until signing day and you never know what’s going to happen. Wulff also touted some of the great people within WSU and how much of a help they have been for campus visits. He even mentioned that June Daugherty and Donnie Marbut helped out this summer talking to some of the kids.

  • Wulff was asked about Willingham, and what he thougth of the situation. Would he be worried about a new coach and the buzz that would create, as well as the chance to steal away some of WSU verbals? Wulff said you know, we’re too worried about ourselves to worry about what they do. They will still recruit their own commitments hard, and if a kid backs out of a verbal commitment to go elsewhere? Then maybe they never really wanted to be Cougars in the first place and it’s probably for the best. Wulff said they want the highest character kids they can find, and if they back out of their word too easily, then it probably wasn’t going to work out. (“we didn’t want them anyway”, isn’t that what UW message board types always say when WSU gets a verbal commitment??)
  • A caller asked a tough question – you are now 2/3rds of the way through the first season. How would you grade your own coaches? Wulff said that while he wouldn’t hand out letter grades or anything like that, he felt like they have done a pretty good job. Still, they can ALL DO A LOT BETTER (obviously). But Wulff also again talked about change, and the human resistance to it that can make it very difficult at first. Wulff also said that coaches and QB’s go hand-in-hand, in that he believes that coaches get too much of the credit when things are great, too much of the blame when things aren’t. They basically run parallel to each other. But he restated, again, that the coaches can all do a lot better, and while it’s easy to second guess some things, he does feel that they are doing and will do a better job.
  • Wulff talked about how the coaches are, still, getting to know the players and the players are getting to know them. It’s not like you walk into their lives and suddenly everyone knows everyone else, knows their backgrounds or the things that make them tick. It’s been a huge learning experience for the players, but also for the coaches in every possible way. He said they are still trying to figure out some of the players, and it is something that will come with time spent together. But overall, again, can they do better? Absolutely!
  • Nameck brought up something Dennis Erickson said back in the day. Erickson said that after his first year at WSU, as a staff, they were a little surprised at the difference between Wyoming and the Big Sky compared to the PAC-10 and the schemes, etc. Wulff said that maybe back then it was an issue, but today, it’s not so much of a big change. He said it’s still football, still a lot of the same in terms of x’s and o’s. Or as Jim Walden says, “it’s less about the x’s and o’s and more about the Jimmie’s and Joe’s!”He did mention, however, that he and the staff felt they saw a lot more things run against them last year at EWU than they have seen this year in the PAC-10. Wulff said it seems like this level is possibly even a little more simplified vs. where he was, and that it’s a lot more “athlete driven” at this level. Some of the things just don’t seem as complex as they thought. But overall they need to get better in matching up with the rest of the conference, because right now it’s awfully tough (as we’ve seen!).
  • A caller asked about how they handle the recruiting, in terms of the sheer volume of kids and how to figure out who to contact. Of course they are using the software, but Wulff also said it’s all about watching tape on kids, and calling them, getting to know them. It’s all about building up relationships and getting to know them, see where it goes. Wulff did say that the coaches will talk about the school’s successful history, talk about their current situation and where that player might fit in, and most of all, where they are headed as a program on the field and facilities, etc. But it all goes back to the building of the relationship and how that all goes. Wulff said that you can tell pretty quickly if a kid is interested or not just in how some of the initial phone calls go. They have limited contact they can do every recruiting season, so, they don’t spend a lot of time on kids that are not interested.
  • Nameck brought up Stanford, and what they’ve been able to do so far with Harbaugh. Nameck mentioned what a boost the new stadium renovation has been for them in recruiting, and Harbaugh has done a heck of a job so far(Don’t believe me? Check out Stanford’s list of current verbal commits. There’s a lot of star gazing going on right now!).

  • The name of Toby Gerhart was brought up, about what a factor he’s been for Stanford this year. One of the top running backs in the conference, if not the country, he’s a tough, physical guy with deceiving speed. Wulff said they saw immediately on film that with him on the field, Stanford is a MUCH better football team, and without him, their level of play drops off. He missed some time vs. UW and only had two carries in that game, but he’s been running well of late, with now three straight 100+ yard games. Nameck also brought up turnovers and how they’ve been an issue for Stanford, as they are ahead of only WSU in the turnover ratio department in the PAC-10 rankings. Wulff once again railed about turnovers, about how they can just destroy your chances at getting a win. He them went back to our own turnover issues, and how they just need to clean up that part of their game and things could really turn around. But we have to stop hurting ourselves.
  • Nameck asked about the last week of practice, taking things indoors and all that. Wulff said they had a good week, and it was time to get away from outside distractions and resharpen their focus on the task at hand. They are sticking together and they worked really hard on a lot of things, and Wulff was happy with how it went. They are back outside practicing now, as the weather has been great to be able to do so.
  • A caller asked what the deal was with the APR and the eight scholarship losses. Wulff said that by the end of the academic year, things should be back to normal, and by next fall they will be allotted the full 85 scholarships. However Wulff said that in at least that first year, they MIGHT not be at the full 85. They might be just under it. But he said by the fall of the following year (2010), they will for sure be at the full 85-scholarship limit.
  • A caller asked about the rebuilding plan, and if that has changed at all. Wulff said ideally they start out with the idea of redshirting every single player they recruit, and going from there. Obviously he couldn’t do that this year, as necessity has so many young players out on the field. It is what it is. He also said that over the next two or even three seasons, you are probably going to see them play young players earlier than they would like to, again, out of necessity. But ultimately, you want to have your kids with years in the program, learning and growing before they are counted upon as true leadership within the team. By the time they get to be upper classmen, they are ready to be leaders and have experienced some difficult moments. They want to have that core group to have the whole team lean on when times are tough and who to look to during adversity. It will take time.
  • Nameck then asked him about the Vince Grippi article, and if it was accurate. Wulff said it was “pretty good…but they left a lot of the details out.” He honestly didn’t sound all that thrilled with it (TAKE THAT VINCE!). He did say that it painted a solid picture of what they are trying to do, where they are headed, the overall plan, etc. But that was about it.
  • Nameck asked the question of the week, of course, the QB situation. I know it’s been reported everywhere already, but Lopina is going to start the game. But young J.T. Levenseller WILL PLAY this week. They have decided to burn the redshirt, but you most likely know that by now (and Wulff more or less broke that on last week’s radio show, but it’s official now). Wulff did say that they will likely play him in something like the third or fourth series of the game, and then they would go from there. The situation will dictate who plays or who doesn’t and what things look like into the second half. He didn’t get any more specific than that.
  • Wulff talked about Kevin Lopina. He has really improved, to the point that doctors now say he’s near 100% physically. Wulff noticed that he’s moving considerably better in practice and looks a lot more fluid, not stiff like he was before. But Wulff also said that Lopina needs to build up the mental recovery aspect of it, and get that confidence back.

  • Some other injury updates – Dwight Tardy is back, and will play. However Chris Ivory still hasn’t been able to get over the hamstring, so he’s out. Tardy will be in the mix for carries with Logwone Mitz and Chance Staden. Devin Frischknecht is still out with an ankle injury, and is at least two-three weeks away from coming back. Marshall Lobbestael will have surgery on his knee tomorrow, and then he’ll be ready to go for rehab. They talked about the hydro works machine, the underwater treadmill, that will be used for rehabbing ankle and knee injuries. They REALLY are excited to get that thing going, and it’s supposed to be ready next month. The O-line is looking OK, with Steven Ayers and Vaughn Lesuma both back this week. Micah Hannam is nicked up, but might be OK this week.
  • Finally, Wulff talked about Stanford’s defense. They are pretty tough up front, second in with 26 sacks, so they will be a handful for the offensive line. The QB’s are going to have to play better too, so, hopefully they are ready for the challenge. But Wulff again brought up the focus, and intensity, and what they need to do this week. They need to see a much better effort by everyone, and Wulff said he has a decent feeling about it this week. He has seen some improvements. He really emphasized that they need to keep up the intensity and focus early, even if things aren’t going well. If they can hang in there and not give in, then things will turn around.

So that’s pretty much everything. Some of it sounded familiar to what we’ve been hearing or reading over the last few weeks. But some decent insight as well into recruiting, etc.

Enjoy your Wednesday, and as always, GO COUGS!

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap – Week Nine

October 22, 2008

A lot of ground to cover this week so we’ll jump right in with a recap of this week’s radio show (and some potential BREAKING news to boot?):

  • First off, I have to admit that Wulff’s overall tone was definitely more somber or down than I can remember. You can hear it in his voice that this whole thing is probably wearing on him, and he’s also ready for it to change. But I haven’t heard him like this the whole season. Not totally down in the dumps, but clearly a different tone.
  • Bob-Rob asked him about the closed practices this week. Wulff said that there are a lot of reasons, but mainly “we need some time to ourselves”. Lots to work on, but also need to stay together and iron out a lot of things, and most of all, “address the things that we can control right now”. Wulff also made it clear that he is using this bye week to reinforce their understanding of things, as well as make it well-known about the coaching staff’s expectations of the players and each other. But Wulff also said hey, we’ve been trying this thing one way so far, and it’s obviously not working. We have to adapt and try something else to get it turned around.
  • Bob-Rob asked him what Wulff is looking for in terms of team leaders. Can they be built? Wulff said that some of it can be, and sometimes players grow into a real leadership role. Basically the ones that “walk the talk” are the ones that others will gravitate towards and look to in tough times, and they carry the most respect (we touched on this earlier in the week, about the lack of leadership might be a big problem right now?). But they are always looking for leadership on the recruiting trail. Clearly there is a void right now.
  • A caller asked about the no-huddle, and where has it gone? Wulff said that right now, given the injuries and inexperience, that offensively they can’t really handle it. It will come with more experience and as they get more comfortable and healthy going forward, but for now, they can’t do it effectively. Ideally it will return as a staple of what they do offensively, and will want to use it as a way to dictate tempo, catch the defense off guard/on their heels/etc but doing it now wouldn’t benefit anyone.
  • Another caller asked him about recruiting right now, and how is he handling all the losing when dealing with recruits? The fine line of a recruit wanting to play early vs. playing on a winner, how is he dealing with that? Wulff said that there is usually more than fans think when it comes to recruits and what they look at. The end-result on the field, AT THAT MOMENT, isn’t the most important thing to a recruit. They look at the opportunity to play early, but other things, like their potential position coach, the style of play, the gameday atmosphere, the campus, the academic situation, everything goes into it. Wulff said that many of the recruits and the families they are talking to right now understand the situation, that they are young, injured and everything is still new, and that these times won’t last forever. They are selling the opportunity to these kids to be part of something special going forward as the foundation of a successful program. The caller brought up the caliber or recruits, and the Utah kids who visited were brought up (not by name, as that is against the rules of course). Wulff went out of his way to say that Jody Sears is doing a great job recruiting right now, and that Utah is his territory. He has really hit it off well with the two kids from Utah and they have shown tremendous interest in all that WSU has to offer (check it out here from Cougfan as to who was visiting from Utah last weekend).
  • A caller asked about the strategy against USC. Why only nine passes? Why not use J.T. Levenseller instead and actually try to do something other than what we saw? Wulff said there were several reasons they did what they did. First off, Lopina’s health is “far less than 100%” but good enough to play. Wulff was so concerned for his health that they did not want to put him in jeopardy of getting a further setback to his recovery from the broken vertebrae. If you remember, even though Lopina threw just nine balls, he did take a couple of pretty big (and painful looking) shots. You wonder how much he could have actually handled before he was back on the bench. As to why they didn’t play J.T., the reason was simply that it wouldn’t be fair to have his first NCAA experience to be against USC’s defense! USC starts nine seniors on their defense, it’s the best defense in the Pac-10 if not one of the best in the country, and at least half of them could eventually be first-round NFL draft picks. That is no way to break in a true frosh QB, behind a battered offensive line and no running game to speak of. It just wouldn’t have been fair to J.T. to play him in that game. Wulff basically again said that the goal was to try and run the ball, control the clock and come out of that game healthy.
  • Wulff was also asked about USC. He said they look outstanding, and really felt that Mark Sanchez is excellent, if not underrated as a QB in the country. But he went on about how Pete Carroll was just a class act all the way, citing a few opportunities they had to pile on even worse but chose not to (including the possession to end the first half). Carroll apologized to Wulff after the game for the final score, and Wulff told him that there is nothing to apologize for. But Carroll is just a great guy and a class act all the way.
  • One issue that came up when discussing USC was the emotion on the team right now. Wulff said a troubling sign is what is happening when they do get behind early, and that is there seems to be an “acceptance” of the situation. They aren’t showing enough fight overall, and might be a big reason for some of these terrible final score margins. He didn’t flat out say they were quitting when the going got tough, but you can figure it out. I guess it’s not hard to at least think that many players are giving in when you have four Pac-10 teams hang at least 60 points on you??
  • Now for some semi-Breaking news – J.T. Levenseller is, if you believe the radio show, VERY LIKELY to play vs. Stanford. Wulff said that they are working hard, right now, to make that happen, and that they are looking at this as a five-game season. J.T. is going to be a big part of that. Now he didn’t say if young Levy would start vs. Stanford, or come off the bench as part of a QB rotation, but he did say he would play. Hmm, maybe this is part of the closed practices as well?
  • Wulff expanded on what they think of Levy. Wulff first said “competitor” without hesitation, much like Marshall Lobbestael. But they really see the extra intangible in him, and that he’ll be the type of QB who simply finds ways to win. He stands just about 6 feet, and is an outstanding athlete with great feet. He has an excellent arm, one that Wulf says “can make all the throws in this offense”. And he also possesses the ability to throw on the run, and with real accuracy. Very tough minded kid, like his father. And every bit the “coaches son” in that he knows the game and understands things pretty well just because he’s been around it so much. Wulff would say that you get a player like J.T. Levenseller, it has the potential to lift the whole team.
  • Wulff would go on to say that the QB situation is setting up nicely for next year. When you consider they’ll still have Lopina on the roster, plus a return to health for Lobbestael and now, Levenseller is going to show what he can do. Hopefully they close the deal with Jeff Tuel, the recruit from Fresno, and he can redshirt next year.
  • Wulff was asked about Stanford. He said they are doing an excellent job of running the football, and that is keeping them in virtually every game they play. They are still in their second year with Harbaugh, so they aren’t perfect, but they have made some big strides. But a huge part of their success so far is their ability to run the ball. Very physical up front. They also play sound defense and have some experience, so they should be tough. Wulff would go on to say that he looks at Stanford and sees that our own offensive line needs to emulate some of what they do, in terms of physical play up front and the ability to run the football. If you can’t run it, you can never keep that defense honest, and you aren’t able to get very deep into your offense.
  • Finally, a caller asked about the scoring streak, and why with a few minutes left didn’t they at least try some hail mary type throws? Wulff said that the streak was sort of on their mind, and they did talk about it briefly as far as running a play or two that they thought could work. But at the same time, it was not a priority to them. They had a game plan and wanted to stick with it, and they felt it was more important to keep Lopina healthy and not risk having him get hurt in a “meaningless situation at the end of the game”. Wulff said he would just hate the idea of getting Lopina further injured on something that simply wasn’t too relevant. So, he said they bagged the idea of some deeper plays, and Wulff stuck to the plan.

So that’s it. Levenseller to play vs. Stanford, provided everything goes to plan. That’s a pretty big deal. And frankly I’m glad to see it. They are worried about Lopina’s health, so much so that they are willing to just run the ball 90% of the time? Then don’t play him. Five games left is still, believe it or not, a decent chunk of a season. While some might scoff at the idea of burning Levy’s redshirt this late in the year, well, a lot can be gained by playing the last five games of a season. Back when teams would play 10-11 games, that was roughly half a season. Brink started the last five games of the 2004 season, and he definitely gained from that experience.

But again, overall a less-than-thrilling radio show. It’s hard to explain, but if you heard the show, you would know what I mean when I say there was a different tone with Wulff. Maybe a little down, but also much more serious sounding to me. We’ll see if it’s same ‘ol, same ‘ol, or if some of these changes actually pay off in a couple of weeks.

Happy Wednesday, and GO COUGS!

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap – Week Eight

October 15, 2008

Some good stuff as usual for this week, so we’ll jump right in:

  • Wulff said they have practiced well so far this week. Still working very hard, even with everything going on.
  • Bob-Rob asked him immediately about what he’s seen from the USC – Oregon State tape and anything they can glean from that one. Wulff thought Oregon State did a great job at the line of scrimmage, and they ran the ball just so well and could control the clock. He also said Oregon State really ups their game at home, and they have one of the best home field advantages around. But Wulff also said that was obviously just one game, and USC has regrouped quite well with blowout wins over Oregon and ASU, two of the better teams in the conference. Bottom line is USC is a great challenge for anyone they play! Bob-Rob did throw in “yeah, but they hate coming to Pullman” and Wulff said that’s true, so hopefully we can make them even more uncomfortable.
  • They touched more on USC. Wulff said that they have an amazing touch throughout the country in terms of recruiting. Bob-Rob said back in the old days, kids all over grew up wanting to play for Notre Dame on a national level, and now USC has become that glamour school. Wulff agreed and mentioned players like Cushing, the linebacker from New Jersey. There are other examples like Mike Williams from Florida and Dwayne Jarrett from New Jersey.
  • One interesting thing Wulff threw in there about USC, however, is that he said they are doing quite well recruiting some kids, right now, who are also interested in USC. He said that they are getting a very good reception from families in the LA area who are interested in having their sons get out of LA instead of stay home. Not that there is a flood-gate situation where athletes headed for USC will suddenly reverse course and head to Pullman(!), but, he said their message in recruiting has been very well received thus far. There will be some recruits in for a visit this coming weekend who we are recruiting who also happen to have USC on their list, but so far so good.
  • A caller asked Wulff who his biggest influences are from his background, in regards to offense, defense and overall philosophy for his program (this was one of the best questions I’ve heard asked, and Wulff gave a very detailed answer). The first name Wulff mentioned was Dennis Erickson. He said he learned so much from Erickson in regards to offensive x’s and o’s, about the one back/spread the field concept. Also how aggressive Erickson is on offense, to go along with the scheme, and how unpredictable that type of offense can be. He also said that their biggest goal, however, is to be balanced offensively, even in a spread scheme. They want one of the mainstays of the program to be the ability to run the football, week in and week out. It’s the same thing defensively, in that they want to be aggressive and physical on defense and commit to stopping the run. Again, another mainstay, stopping the run on defense and being as aggressive as they can.
  • Wulff brought up Dick Zornes, from EWU. Not so much his schemes, but his entire philosophy. He said Zornes was the most organized coach he has ever seen in 15 years of coaching. And Zornes always preached fundamentals and taught them constantly to his players. Wulff also mentioned learning a little from Mike Price and even Joe Tiller when he was at WSU, but didn’t get real specific with them.

  • One interesting name he brought up? Pete Carroll. He said when he played with the Jets for a short time, Carroll was the defensive coordinator I believe? Anyway, he said he learned some good things from Carroll, just being around him.
  • Bob-Rob asked him is there one that you emulate more than the others, and Wulff said no, not really. He said that it’s a process where you are around different coaches and styles, and you learn what you can. But you still have your own beliefs and ideals, and you take things with you that will work. But Wulff did go on to say this program will be all about fundamentals, and no matter what, going forward we will be sound in all phases of the game. That is his ultimate goal.
  • Finally, Wulff touched on why he is a coach. He said he never thought he would ever be a coach, but once he was around Dennis Erickson, he say how hard that staff worked but they also had fun with it. That Erickson experience really rubbed off on Wulff. But he loves the interaction with the kids more than anything else! Teaching them, talking to them, and the excitement one gets when all their practice and hard work pays off. He said it’s the best feeling to see a kid just light up and excel when they execute what you have taught them. He also likes being involved in their personal lives, helping them out wherever he can to help guide them through some tough times. The best thing is, that like a lot of coaches, he still gets a lot of calls all the time from his former players. Players who have now grown up to become doctors or whatever, yet still give him a call to talk. And also jokingly said that they all tell him how much they appreciate him NOW, but back in the day? That was another story. But the bottom line is the impact he can have with young kids, it’s the number one reason he stuck with coaching for all those lean years at EWU. One can think back to the stories of when he first started at EWU, so anxious to be a coach that he worked for free his first year, living in a trailer, well, you can tell that passion is the real thing.
  • Moving on, they touched on the QB situation. Lopina will start, and has healed quite well from his injury. Wulff then went into the injuries to the QB’s, and how unfortunate it has been for them, but also many teams around the country have suffered the same type of deal (Look at UCLA’s QB situation, or Oregon, or UW with Locker). But closer to home, Wulff made it clear that the injuries to the QB’s have been extremely difficult for the offense to deal with. They are big on rhythm and timing with this offense, and it takes all the reps you can get to improve, not only as the QB itself but also the rest of the offense. They just haven’t had that chance. Wulff went on to say that the injury situation, from top to bottom, is the absolute worst he has ever seen in his 15 years of coaching. Nothing else has come close to what has happened this year. Wulff also touched on the entire QB situation this year, even without injuries. People have to remember that they are replacing basically a four-year starter in Brink, and that’s a big issue. Brink took almost all those reps with the one’s for all those years, obviously in games but also all those practices, and that held back the growth for someone like Gary Rogers. So everything has just kind of combined for the “perfect storm” of QB issues this year.
  • Bob-Rob asked him about the offense in general, in that with so many injuries, have they considered scaling things back even more? Wulff said that in hindsight, they wish they would have done a little more to protect the QB’s early on, and he especially said Marshall. But he said that they are trying to implement this new offense, and they only way it will click is if the offense is run in game situations. You can’t practice one thing, then do another in a game as it wouldn’t work. But even in these tough times, Wulff believes they will gain from the experience in the big picture. He said they COULD change the offense, reel everything in and just run the ball and eat clock, but they wouldn’t learn enough and it would stunt their growth overall.

  • Another week, another Louis Bland comment (shown above getting mobbed after scoring a TD last weekend). A caller said Jim Walden has really been praising Bland during broadcasts, saying how impressed he is with what he has seen from Bland thus far. Wulff said that he’s just a fantastic kid, a leader and a winner with great intangibles and maturity well beyond his years. Wulff said he is already saying he wants to be a captain and has talked to the coaches about it (wow). That’s impressive for a true frosh. Bob-Rob asked how did we get Bland? Wulff said that Cal was recruiting him, but had him on the back-burner due to his size (he’s barely 6 feet and 200 lbs). So by the time signing day came, Cal didn’t offer a full ride, and a scholarship came available for WSU. Wulff offered and Bland signed on signing day, and Wulff called it “a moment where we KNEW we had to have this kid in our program. Luckily it all worked out.” Wulff also mentioned some of the other leadership from this recruiting class, like Tyree Toomer, Jared Karstetter, Mike Ledgerwood. All kids that are playing, all are tough, hard-nosed kids who are competitive, passionate and will have a positive influence on others.
  • A caller asked what the heck is going on with the left tackle situation?? Wulff said it’s been tough, no question. First it was going to be Vaughn Lesuma, but he was hurt to start the year. They moved Steven Ayers out there from guard, but then he got hurt. They tried to put Joe Eppele out there, but he is still too fresh off of knee surgery and wasn’t really ready to come back. It was too much, too soon for him. But now, Lesuma has been moved inside, to guard, so Will Hunter, the walk-on frosh, has been moved to left tackle. In that same part of the answer, Wulff went into the play where Marshall got hurt. He said that there were a few factors, one of which is that Marshall was probably holding the ball a little too long the whole game, and did so on that play. But also the crowd noise was a factor, and Hunter simply didn’t get off the line quick enough at the snap, while the OSU d-end timed it perfectly.
  • Bob-Rob did ask about the general strategy for USC this week. While Wulff wouldn’t fully divulge the game plan, he did say that they will adjust some things this week. Part of their strategy could in fact be to try and shorten the game, take care of the ball, use the clock and play sound defense (sort of like the Dick Bennett approach?). Wulff said that when they do the right things and execute, they CAN play well. He pointed out they won the second quarter vs. OSU, 14-3, and did so by playing sound defense, getting takeaways, etc.
  • The defense was brought up. Wulff said that yes, the final scores have been disturbing to say the least, but he thought the defense has been OK in some stretches. The UCLA game they hung in there, but the offense didn’t give them any help, and all the 3-and-outs and turnovers really wear out the defense. But that UCLA game, at least in stretches, showed that if you can do well in the field position battle and not give the ball away on offense, they can hang in there. He said overall, however, he’s never seen his defense put in such bad situations. The deck has been stacked against them, time and again. And, Wulff said TURNOVERS MEAN EVERYTHING to coaching staffs. Turnovers change the complexion of a game, completely. If you turn the ball over the way we have this year, you really have no chance to win.
  • A caller asked about next year and what fans can expect. Wulff didn’t hesitate to say that, without question, they WILL be considerably better next year. He quickly listed some reasons as to why: 1) With another year in the program, eating right and lifting weights, the team as a whole will be bigger and stronger, more equipped to compete in the Pac-10. 2) With another year in the system, players will have more experience in the offensive and defensive schemes. You have to remember that still, everything is brand new to these guys, and they are still learning every week. All these injuries have really stunted their growth as a football team. But a whole year in the systems, and they expect real progress. 3) There are several players they are redshirting, right now, that Wulff fully believes will help immediately next year. 4) Finally, they expect to be healthier next year! After this year, that goes without saying, but Wulff mentioned that they are doing things now as a team that will help players deal with injuries better than in the past, and they don’t expect to go through something like this again. But bottom line, Wulff was very encouraged when talking and thinking about next year, and while they will still be young, they will be better. IT WILL COME!
  • To wrap it up, a caller asked about recruiting bigger WR’s. Wulff said sure, they’d like the players to have a big presence, but they are just looking for playmakers at the skill positions, period. Size isn’t as big of an issue compared to pure ability. On that theme, Wulff was asked about the current recruiting priorities. Once again, for like the fourth time this year, Wulff said defensive line is by far the top priority. He said ideally they would like to bring in up to six defensive linemen in this class, but it probably won’t be that many (there are three right now who have committed, although Geoff Meinken is officially a “soft verbal” right now – and no, Wulff didn’t mention any recruits by name). Bob-Rob asked about hitting the JC ranks for immediate help, and Wulff said they might take a few more than they normally would, but maybe just between two to four, tops.

That’s a wrap on the radio show. Lots of stuff to digest. Interestingly enough, JT Levenseller’s name never came up. The only QB talk was on Kevin Lopina. However, a check of this week’s release shows JT as the number one backup to Lopina. Not a surprise given the media speculation we’ve seen so far, but if Lopina goes down, it sure looks like JT will get the call.

Enjoy your Wednesday, and as always, GO COUGS!

Paul Wulff Radio Show Recap – Week Seven

October 8, 2008

I will try and be brief. This week was a little more distracting as I had one ear on the radio show, another on the last 30 minutes of the big debate. But I think I caught the most interesting aspects from Wulff, so here goes:

Bud Nameck hosted again for Bob Rob. Not sure what’s up there but who knows. The show opened with the joke of the moment, the walk-on QB tryouts. Wulff noted that he’s heard a lot of stuff about it, even ESPN was talking about it, so he just sort of shrugged his shoulders and said at least it’s publicity. That said, Wulff was happy with the turnout and the guy they chose, Peter Roberts. Roberts had started at Woodinville the last couple of years, a 3-yr letterman who was 2nd team all league last year (you can read all about him here from Grippi). Wulff said he practiced briefly on Tuesday, but should be ready to go Wednesday for a full practice. Wulff said they like him, in that he’s quick, smart and should be a good addition.

Wulff talked again about depth and what an issue that can be in trying to build a program. He made a good point that lack of depth is obviously an issue in what fans see in games, but it’s even tough to have a good practice if you are missing so many players. The lack of depth can hold a team back from improving if they can’t have decent practices. I guess I know I hadn’t thought of it in that way, but with a program with so many new changes, even the ability to get better in practice has been an issue. But you can think back to August, when it seemed like half the team was standing on the sidelines and Wulff was beyond frustrated by their lack of conditioning and toughness.

Health came up in regards to depth. Tyrone Justin, Markes Dawes, Steven Ayers, Will Hunter and Chris Ivory were all expected to play a lot vs. UCLA, but all of them missed the game with new injuries suffered last week. It doesn’t look all that great for this week either, as Ayers looks extremely questionable with a neck injury and Ivory is definitely out with a pulled hamstring.

In-state recruiting came up with a caller, and how important that really is. Wulff went on about how key it is to keep the good ones here (this is a point we’ve heard all season so I won’t expand on it). However, one item I hadn’t heard before was the actual cost of the scholarship to the school for in-state kids vs. out of state kids. Did you know that it costs $19,000 per year for an in-state player on a full ride, but it costs $29,000 per year for an out-of-state player on a full ride? That’s $10,000 difference right there, per kid. Not that we are always looking to cut corners in every possible way, and the funding from scholarships comes from a variety of sources. But there is no doubt that the value is greater if you can get a good in-state player vs. having to go out and get a player out of state. Interesting.

After all, let’s get real – NCAA football is a business, with budgets and everything else that comes with it. I guess it makes it even more painful when they miss on an out-of-state kid, on and off the field. If you look at some of the names of kids who haven’t worked out from the Doba era, you can see that many of the names are from out of the state. Double-ouch.

A caller asked about the coordinators, and then about overall improvement. I won’t go into the bio’s of each guy, as you can find that anywhere on Todd Sturdy, Chris Ball and Jody Sears. But on the improvement, Wulff touched quite a bit on the offense. Here you have a team, in the span of the first four games, lose their top two QB’s. And not only were all the QB’s new to the system, but they also had the unenviable task of replacing a 4-year starter who threw for over 10,000 career yards. Big shoes to fill. Then you add to it the weekly shuffle of the offensive line, where they have started a new combination up front every single week, and it’s a tough mix. The running backs have had some injuries, and now Ivory is battling the pulled hammy. And the WR’s were not only down an NFL WR in Michael Bumpus and NFL tight end in Jed Collins, but some of the guys they had pegged to help carry the load haven’t been healthy.

Jeshua Anderson is still shaking off the rust. Wulff said the last time Anderson really played was in November, and that was it. He missed the entire spring session of practices, plus the entire fall camp due to hernia surgery. He’s only NOW getting into his rhythm. And Daniel Blackledge has been fighting a shoulder injury and still isn’t healthy. Needless to say, when you are looking for reasons why we can’t score, well, you have several options to pick from!

Wulff also talked about the defense, and said they are getting better. He really pointed out the emphasis on speed and quickness with having Myron Beck and Louis Bland now starting at linebacker. He thought they looked better vs. UCLA, tackled well, and looked faster on defense.

Quick sidebar – That’s one point of emphasis that is getting more and more popular. I read a really good article in Athlon’s this summer about the rage of the spread offense right now, and how defenses are trying to deal with it. One point to the article was the kind of player defenses are trying to find now to cope with this spread offense, and that is speed, speed and more speed. It’s especially vital at linebacker, because you are seeing more and more situations where the linebackers are put in one-on-one situations with a WR out in space. Fight that speed with speed of your own. But as the article said, linebackers who run like safeties and still weigh 240 pounds are basically playing on Sunday, so, you are seeing a lot smaller linebackers these days, and that trend will continue. The other aspect to it is that you not only need speedy linebackers, but you have to have them in excellent physical condition. More and more teams are embracing the no-huddle as part of the spread attack, so you have to have your linebackers ready to go for several plays in a row. You simply cannot sub guys in and out effectively with a no-huddle spread offense, so you have to have the right kind of athletes on the field.

The spread right now is clearly ahead of defenses. Don’t believe me? Go look at some of the numbers teams are putting up in the Big 12, where maybe no other conference in America has embraced the spread like that conference. And guess what? It works. Look at the rankings right now. Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas are all in the top 5 in the major polls. And even Texas Tech with their version of the spread is ranked seventh! Amazing.

A caller asked about scheduling. Wulff said that you get that 13th game when you play it off the mainland, which is what we’ll have this year obviously at Hawaii. But Wulff doesn’t like the idea of 13 games. He likes the idea of 12 games in 13 weeks, with a bye in the middle. Wulff also went on to say that he really likes the bowl system. He said coaching at EWU the last eight years and being in the playoff system was exciting, but, he prefers the bowls. Part of the problem is that the season goes on too long with the full blown playoff system. We have to remember that they are in fact student athletes, not just athletes. But Wulff said he wouldn’t be opposed to a playoff system that was played after the bowls have been played. Maybe a four or six-team playoff run over a couple of weeks in January, after New Year’s, but again, you can’t let it drag on too long or else it runs into the next semester of school.

They finally talked Oregon State. Reser Stadium came up, and for good reason. They really did it right down in Corvallis, and not only is it a tough place to play, but it’s an excellent facility. Wulff said they are a great example of how to do the whole upgrade thing, and something to look forward to for Martin Stadium and what it will eventually become. He emphasized again that stuff does matter to recruits, and it adds to the overall experience for the student athlete.

Wulff praised true frosh Jacquizz Rodgers, and how tough a player he is. He’s not only strong, but has excellent quickness and vision. Currently leading the conference in rushing, he’s one impressive young player. We are going to have our hands full trying to contain him this Saturday. If you aren’t disciplined defensively it could be a long day trying to chase him down. He’s had a streak of three straight 100+ yard games, and is on pace for a 1300-yard season.

Wulff also talked highly of QB Lyle Moevao. He has become a much better player in his second year at Oregon State, and after four INT’s in the first two games, he hasn’t thrown one since. He’s now over 1400 yards passing with 10 TD’s and the four INT’s, and is completing over 60% of his passes. Wulff said he is managing the game much better, smarter than last year, and simply playing within himself and the offense. Sammie Stroughter has been a big boost to the passing game and seems to have helped loosen up the coverages a bit, as Stroughter is one of the top deep threats around. They missed that last year. But OSU is also strong and experienced on the offensive line, and a great example of depth. OSU has started the exact same starting offensive line the whole season and they are playing really well. They have allowed just eight sacks in five games this year. Strong o-line play has become a staple of the OSU program under Mike Riley.

OSU’s defense is playing better as well, and while they lost some big names from their front seven last year, they still start eight seniors. They are experienced, fast, and active, so they will be tough at home. But Wulff said we have a good game plan this week and looking forward to the match-up.

To wrap it up, Kevin Lopina came up. Wulff said he’s coming along, and actually threw the ball at Tuesday’s practice. He should throw all week, and next week will be closer to being cleared to play. Wulff said right now it really looks like after the bye, Lopina will be ready to come back. However, Wulff did say he will “be given the opportunity to compete”, not that he will be given the job back once he is on the field. So we’ll see how it goes, but there are certainly no guarantees at the QB spot.

That’s about it. Stay tuned tomorrow for Football Friday on Thursday. Enjoy your humpday, and GO COUGS!

Wulff Radio Show Recap, Week Three

September 10, 2008

Before we get started on the radio show, take a look at our votes in the weekly Blog Poll Top 25, sponsored by the top NCAA blog around, Michigan’s own MGOBlog. Agree/disagree? Cal might be ranked a little low…..

Rank Team Delta
1 Southern Cal 25
2 Georgia 24
3 Florida 23
4 Oklahoma 22
5 Ohio State 21
6 Missouri 20
7 LSU 19
8 Auburn 18
9 Wisconsin 17
10 Texas 16
11 Kansas 15
12 Arizona State 14
13 Brigham Young 13
14 Oregon 12
15 Alabama 11
16 Texas Tech 10
17 Penn State 9
18 Wake Forest 8
19 South Florida 7
20 Utah 6
21 California 5
22 East Carolina 4
23 West Virginia 3
24 Clemson 2
25 Fresno State 1

Dropped Out:

We’ll be voting the rest of the season, so the delta and dropped out portions will make more sense going forward.

Now, on to the radio show. I will condense things even more than before, and try to hit just the key talking points.

  • The show opened with Wulff saying they had a very good practice today. Then they talked about the poor weather they will likely see in Waco for the next TEN MINUTES. Looking likely they’ll get a lot of wind and rain.
  • A caller asked Wulff about the JC transfers on the defensive line, and why we haven’t seen them play yet at such a thin position. Wulff said that Josh Luopo didn’t get his JC degree until it was too late, so he will enroll in January. With Jessy Sanchez and Bernard Wolfgramm, they have decided to redshirt both players. It hurts the d-line situation right now, but Wulff pointed out that they have three seniors at d-tackle right now who will all be gone next year, so they have to think about the future as well as the present.
  • Wulff then went into their philosophy on JC’s. He said they will approach things differently with their JC players, and instead of throwing them into the fire right away, they do want to redshirt them to give them a year to acclimate to the program, hit the weight room, all those things. He said in his past, they had too many times with JC’s where the players would take half a year or even sometimes a full year to really adjust, and then pfft, you’ve lost one full season of eligibility waiting for them to get ready. Then you only have them for one senior season, and that’s it. Instead, they will do all they can to redshirt JC’s and only play them unless there isn’t any other choice.
  • Wulff did touch again on Wolfgramm, and he really likes what he’s seen. He’s very tempted to play him now, but they think he could be a really special player, and a year in the weight room could be a huge help for him next year.
  • Wulff was asked, flat-out, ok, so we hear about how thin we are. Where DO we have any depth? Wulff mentioned running back……and that was about it.
  • A caller asked Wulff about the lack of confidence right now. He said that goes hand-in-hand with lack of experience, and he touched quite a bit on the offense. He said that the QB had accuracy issues early on (he didn’t mention Rogers by name). But he said they also had more issues with the WR’s, out of position, running the wrong routes, you name it.
  • Wulff did touch on one thing. He said this offensive situation reminds him of EWU in 2006. Back then, EWU had youth all over the place on offense, and it was a struggle on offense the entire season. But then the next year in ’07, they led the nation in total offense. So while there is a learning curve with the offense, have some faith that it will work.
  • They still aren’t even using half the playbook, so there are a lot of things they would like to run that they just can’t right now. Wulff also said that they spent a lot of time in practices just going over the very basic fundamentals, things that they had to start from basically ground zero with many of the players in terms of their basic stance, etc. It was that lacking in fundamentals, and there is still a lot of teaching going on. He said there are also some mental fundamentals they are lacking right now, just some real football basics, and that is a tough challenge as well. You don’t have a good enough feel for what their “base” is for football knowledge, so it’s still a feeling-out process.
  • Wulff also addressed the no-huddle, and that right now it isn’t really effective. Part of the problem is that the offense hasn’t really meshed, so, they are taking too long to get to the line of scrimmage and get the correct play called. Plus there are protections that the QB needs to be aware of, reading the defensive formation, etc. There’s a lot that happens between plays that is on the QB’s shoulders, and the no-huddle works best when the QB has it all figured out.
  • Talked briefly about the Cal game. He said in going back and watching the tape, we literally gave away five touchdowns in that game! The two INT’s that were returned inside the 15 yard line, the two long runs where two guys were completely out of position and blew their assignments, and then the blocked field goal returned for a TD. You can’t do that against anyone, but especially a quality, bowl-winning team like Cal. They will bury you.
  • On the topic of depth on both offensive and defensive lines, Wulff said that they will eventually get there, but it could take a few seasons. Wulff does believe that the O-line will come quicker, based on their youth now plus some good young recruits. But the D-line could take longer, based on their lack of tackles. He does believe the D-line could be decent next year with Kooyman and Mattingly at ends and Wolfgramm and Turpin at tackle next year, but they will still have some holes.
  • Wulff went out of his way to talk about the difference between Cal and WSU up front. He said watching the teams next to each other on the field, Cal’s lines were considerably bigger and stronger than our lines. You could see it, and how Cal controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Wulff truly believes in getting in the weight room and that freshman and sophomores need time to put on strength and size to compete against juniors and seniors like Cal had out there.
  • Wulff talked about how they will approach Baylor on defense. They want to 1) stop the run. Felt they did a good job of that vs. Okie State until very late in the game, and they were overwhelmed vs. Cal. 2) Continue to tackle well. He said this is one area he is thrilled with the coaches and how they have coached up the kids to tackle well. That will be a staple of the program going forward, and he believes once they get a little stronger it will really pay off. 3) Baylor runs a different style of offense compared to Cal, and we might match up better with them. He talked about the talented Robert Griffin at QB, but that he’s young and they will be ready for him. He also said that they really, really need some production on offense to help the defense out! WE NEED TO STEP UP ON OFFENSE!
  • Someone asked what they did with the Cal video. Wulff said they actually made the coaches and players watch it, because they need every second they can get with the kids and video of their performances. He also said that they will save this video, and use it in the future. They will never forget what happened and will use it as motivation.
  • Someone asked about the schedule. Would you rather open up against bowl-winning teams from last year, then play a Baylor and Portland State? Or would you rather open up against a Baylor and Portland State, then get the “bigger” named teams? Wulff said they would rather get the Baylor and Portland State games first, just to get some of their in-game experiences out of the way. He pointed out that Okie State and Cal were both bowl-winning teams from last year, and they returned experience UP FRONT, on both lines, so that was a big difference in what we saw early on.
  • Finally, the question of the day – who will start at QB? Wulff said you’ll find out once the game starts. He said there are a few reasons here. First, they need some production, period, out of the offense. Next, they really want to split the reps in practice with the first-teamers between Lopina and Rogers. They want the reps to be equal between the two this week to see what happens. Then, Wulff was very “coy” about the QB situation, when he said “it doesn’t really matter a whole lot who takes the first snap of the game” and that “don’t be surprised if both QB’s play”. But Wulff also said that they really want to see what Lopina can do with the first-teamers in game situations. Practice is practice, but games are something else entirely, and sometimes you have no way of knowing what a kid can do until the bright lights come on.
  • Wulff also reminded people that Lopina just took his first college snaps EVER last week on the D-1 level, so, he might be a junior but he’s very inexperienced. Same with Loebbestael, he just took his first snaps as a redshirt frosh. But they want them both to at least get some game action so they have some sort of base to build on.

That’s about it. The tone, overall, wasn’t as negative as you might have thought it would be coming off a 66-3 humiliation. But Wulff is hanging tough, which is what you need right now.

Enjor your Wednesday, and GO COUGS!

Wulff Radio Show Recap, Plus Links

September 3, 2008

A different feel/tone to this week’s radio show, so, we’ll get right to it in a condensed version:

  • Wulff said things still felt new after the first game, and there is still so much work ahead. We have one game under our belts, and obviously it didn’t go how we wanted it to, but as always, there was good and bad with week one.
  • Good: the defense. Bad: Offense, in particular the passing game early, and special teams struggled on all the units.
  • Felt that we had serious jitters on offense from some new faces. Also spilled over to kicking and coverage issues. But Wulff also said to look around the nation and you’ll see a lot of teams with special teams issues in week one (Cal blocked punt for TD, Missouri ran back a kickoff for a TD, etc). More on that later.
  • Wulff went out of his way to say how special Martin Stadium can be when it’s packed and it’s loud. All things considered, it is one of the tougher places to play on a visiting team, fans/noise/atmosphere can be a headache. Most of all, we NEED A GOOD CROWD this weekend!
  • Wulff was happy with the Seattle crowd. There were moments when it got pretty loud. But he also said their extremely slow start didn’t really give the fans a reason to make a bunch of noise early.
  • Basically felt that the lack of maturity, youth and inexperience had big reasons to do with the loss.
  • Wulff felt the turning point was the long return for a TD after they cut it to a two-score game in the third quarter. Just like that it was back to a three-TD lead and it was an uphill battle.
  • But Wulff was also frustrated by some of the smaller things. For example, right after we got the INT to start the second half, we get a false-start penalty to start the drive. Also something about a personal foul penalty on Karstetter after a first-down run by Dwight Tardy earlier in the game. Just little things added up as well.
  • A caller asked why so many starters are on special teams? Wulff was clear that he felt the vast majority of special teamers should be backups, but, we just don’t have the depth/talent level to get away with it right now. He said going forward, he wants his backups to be dying to get on the field in any way, shape or form, and he wants kids to be excited to play special teams. He pointed out that it isn’t always an easy thing to sell to kids, to get them excited to play special teams when some of them believe they should be starting. He said it can be a hard, humbling experience for “high school stars” to come in and be on special teams. He also made it clear that in the future, they might recruit a kid with a tick less talent than the next guy, but if the character and heart is there, they want that kind of kid. That will help special teams.
  • Wulff made an example that they are already changing special teams, and Andy Mattingly has been moved to kickoff coverage. He said in practice Tuesday, Mattingly was the first guy down the field. He has the heart and character and wants to play, period. Wulff also said that special teams are difficult to practice. It’s a very violent play, and it is always very hard to simulate in practice vs. what you see in games. That’s why there are so many issues usually around the country in the first few games.
  • Reid Forrest very well could punt this week. He kicked in practice yesterday and looked good.
  • Also another injury good-news department- Jeshua Anderson practiced, albeit on a limited basis. Wulff felt that he’s nearly ready to go, but the doctors haven’t cleared him yet. He then said that the Baylor game looks “very promising” for Anderson’s return. Personally, I say don’t rush it and make sure he doesn’t come back too early….but at the same time….wow, does that position need him right now!
  • Wulff talked about the deep balls and the lack of the ability to stretch the field. He felt the two plays with Gibson were balls that he probably should have had, but, they didn’t work out. He also said that we will go deep more often as the season goes on. Also said that if Rogers ever sees Gibson in “zero coverage”, meaning one-on-one without any apparent safety help, then check into something and go for it down the field.
  • Wulff was overall pleased with the offensive line, but he didn’t exactly gush about their performance. He felt they can play much, much better. Bob pointed out that we likely started one of the youngest, if not THE youngest, offensive line in the country with four underclassmen and junior Kenny Alfred at center. Wulff also pointed out that losing Lesuma for now and also Rowlands hurts. But also not having Joe Epelle hurts the tackle situation. But Wulff talked to Rogers after the game and Rogers felt the line did a good job, and aside from a few shots early, didn’t really get hit too much. Wulff stressed that they will get a lot better up front as the season goes on.
  • He believes that we have our hands full in a major way this week, and that Cal already looks better than OSU. He’s very happy to get them in Pullman, and again asked for crowd support. He cited Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen as two of the fastest backs in the conference, hands down. Also likes the way Kevin Riley handles the QB position. Doesn’t try to do too much, and avoids the huge mistake. Also said that their linebackers are excellent, four seniors with tons of experience. They are really, really physical and this game overall will be extremely physical.
  • Recruiting: Wulff talked about how hard they are working in recruiting right now. They have all types of contacts with high school coaches and are always getting tapes and updates from coaches. Right now, as of 9/1 they can call a recruit once a week. But they are also taking time to send hand-written notes and e-mails to players all the time. Also, the kids have every coaches cell phone numbers and can always call them. Wulff said they are also selling the idea of early playing time to recruits, and while they still have to come in and prove themselves, they will get a chance if they are better than what they’ve already got. Wulff cited that five true frosh will play this Saturday as Louis Bland will get in this week, and that proves that young talent will get the chance to play.
  • Biggest jump in improvement: Wulff said the game one to game two jump can be a little misleading, and he thinks it’s more the first two or three games before you can start to see that improvement. He said health can be a big part of the early improvement, but also who you are playing, where you are playing them, etc, but generally he thinks it’s two-to-three games before you might see a big leap forward.
  • Finally, Wulff was asked about the new clock rules, and the way Okie State handled it. He didn’t feel that the clock rules had much of an impact on what they did, but going forward it could make it tougher to come back late in games. Adding those additional 15 seconds per play could really add up if it’s in the 4th quarter and the other team is running the ball and milking clock. Might see fewer chances to come back. And, if you weren’t at the game Saturday and didn’t see it on TV, Okie State would come to the line of scrimmage in a quick fashion, and get set. Then, the entire team would turn and look at the sideline, and a player would hold up these huge flash cards for some sort of signal to either change the play or stick with what they called. Wulff said our defensive coaches should be commended, because they were ready for it and they did a great job of disguising what we were doing on defense. He said initially we wouldn’t tip our hand in any way what we were going to run. Very much a cat-n-mouse type game. He again praised our defense, and how well they stood up given the situations they were put in. He felt we defended them basically as well as anyone did all of last year, so, it’s a good sign.

Really quick, some other links. Chima Nwachukwu said that people will be surprised by how good we will be this year, and that forecasters are basically wrong.

“People are picking us last and next to last in the Pac-10. That’s definitely not where these coaches expect to be and not where the players expect to be.”

Love the optimism. And not a surprise, really. You would hope he wouldn’t say “gosh, y’all were right about us!” But still, the defense did look better and I don’t think there is much disagreement from anyone who watched the game. Get some more consistent offense, improve the special teams so we can at least keep the field position game under control, keep the defense off the field a little more, and who knows what can happen? But there does seem to be a bit of a swagger on D that wasn’t there before.

In the same article by Howie Stalwick, the injuries were addressed. Andrew Roxas went down with a knee injury in practice, and Wulff said it doesn’t look good in Vince’s early-bird piece today. Yet more shuffling up front. But the good news is that Vaughn Lesuma returned to practice Tuesday, so that could be a huge boost by Saturday.

A good read on WSU recruit Geoff Meinken in today’s Seattle Times. He looks like a real rising player in the state, and set for a huge senior year. We wrote about him before here, as he was the first verbal commit to WSU for the upcoming recruiting class. Smart and incredibly strong, probably the perfect “Paul Wulff” type player that we are trying to get. Let’s hope we can stay on him and get his signature next February!

In national news, there’s a new number one team in the land, and it’s no surprise. But I guess the surprise is that USC actually moved up to number one. It appears that there is more thought being put in to the early voting, as SI’s Stewart Mandel said in the article. Georgia and Ohio State dined on cupcakes on Saturday, while USC went to Virginia and just destroyed. Nice to see some teams getting their due if they earn it.

Finally, what did you think of the Pac-10’s first weekend? The desert schools had layups, but Cal, USC and UCLA all scored good OOC wins. I guess we were the only team that lost an OOC game. I think coming into the year we thought the Pac-10 was going to be down, and many of the preseason rags saw a conference rated third, fourth or even fifth among the BCS schools this year. But maybe we aren’t the weak sister of the BCS this year??

Enjoy your Wednesday, and GO COUGS!