Week FIVE already? Wow, this thing is going fast. Anyway, this week's radio show recap. I'll try and condense it as much as possible but also hit on the key points.
- Bud Nameck hosted this week, Bob Rob was unavailable but will call this week's game. They started the show by talking about the injury to Kevin Lopina and Gary Rogers. Both were termed "scary" injuries, but the best news of all is that neither of them are life-changers and they should fully recover. Obviously Rogers is the more serious of the two and his football days could be done.
- Wulff really went out of his way to express his disappointment about Rogers, and you could tell he felt awful for the kid. He also repeatedly said how great a job his parents did in raising such a wonderful young man. He really likes Rogers, and it's just too bad all the way around the way this has worked out.
- Lopina's injury is less serious of the two, but it could keep him out for some time. Wulff said they are now under the belief that this is a three-to-six week injury, not the two-to-four week injury reported earlier in the day. They just have to take it easy and be careful with the recovery.
- The QB situation now has Marshall starting, obviously, with Dan Wagner backing him up. JT Levenseller is the third QB, and Wulff termed him on "redshirt alert", meaning if both QB's go down, they will be forced to play him. One interesting angle to all this is that JT took a lot of snaps with the number two's in practice, and Wagner only got a few reps in. They really want to see what JT can do with more practice time, so he's getting a good look. Kind of strange in that we've already seen two QB's go down, so while we like Marshall, who knows how long he'll hold up under some serious pressure. Why Wagner isn't getting a lot of reps in practice is a little odd, unless they are more serious about playing JT this year than they are letting on? Wulff reiterated that they really want to redshirt JT, so they are hopeful he won't have to play. Wulff also went out of his way to claim how much progress JT has made so far, and they like what they've seen out of him.
- Of course, the topic turned to Marshall. Wulff said that he brings a lot of intangibles that other QB's don't seem to have, and he's a strong leader. He also said that the players seem to rally around him, and he brings good chemistry to the position. He touched on his competitiveness, saying he is REALLY competitive (can't always coach that!). He also said that while he was somewhat surprised with his performance, he honestly wasn't TOO surprised he did so well. He's been working his butt off, studying film, etc, and he has confidence in what he can do.
- A caller asked about Ocho Rojo's grasp of the offense. Wulff said that he looked smooth out there, but they also didn't really call anything that would make him uncomfortable. They wanted to keep things simple and run things that they knew he would do well with, but at the same time, the kid did well by moving the team and getting them into the endzone without any turnovers. Overall very pleased with Marshall....but Wulff wasn't totally "gushing" about him. I get the drift that he's just trying to keep everyone on this planet before we get too carried away.
- Wulff did say they will give Marshall as much of the offense as he can handle, so they won't try and coddle him too much. So while they will tailor the offense towards his strengths, they won't simply remove a bunch of stuff from the playbook because he's a frosh. He will get as much as he can take.
- A caller asked about the no-huddle, and in particular, the calling of plays at the line. How can you prevent the defense from figuring out what you are doing if your QB is calling the plays right at the line? Wulff said they have a pretty intricate system of hand signals, and in all his years he's never had anyone figure it out....EXCEPT FOR JERRY GLANVILLE! He said that last year, without question, Glanville stole their signals. There was a long stretch of their game last year where it was beyond obvious that PSU knew exactly what they were running. This wasn't just being paranoid, but this was clearly Glanville's staff stealing their signals. But on Saturday, Wulff had three coaches signaling in plays, and PSU had no clue what to do. That might be part of the offensive outburst? Wulff's quote was "this year, we got him!" :)
- Another caller asked about the sloppy play, with penalties, missed assignments, turnovers, etc. He said they try and handle that in practice, where they have a series of 12 plays that they must run as perfect as possible, all eleven guys. If they run it perfectly, that's one less "gasser" they have to do at the end of practice. Run all 12 plays perfectly, they don't have to do any "gassers". He said that's an incentive for discipline, but he really didn't get into any individual punishments for the boneheaded stuff that might occur during a game. I don't get the impression he's got them out running stairs all day. But at the same time, with such a young team and a brand new system, etc, they probably need every second of practice time they can get in working on what they are trying to do in games?
- But Wulff did go out of his way to again tout the unity council, made of up 15-20 players who meet every week to go over what's going on with the team. It's been a big thing so far, and it's got some kids to really start to shine as leaders. He also said that the little mistakes are already starting to clean up, and it will get better and better as the season goes on. They ARE getting better.
- Another called asked what the heck is going on with the d-line? Here you have Mullennix sliding inside to tackle, but he's clearly not a tackle. And you have probably your best linebacker in Andy Mattingly playing defensive end, and he's not making an impact. What gives? Wulff said that right now, they like Mullennix inside at tackle only on passing situations. Since PSU was such a passing team, they thought he gave them their best pass-rushing option on the inside. He also addressed Mattingly, and basically said that you might see Mattingly back at strong-side linebacker at some point this season or next season. He said that there are some things that Mattingly does at linebacker that are great, but, there are others that he really doesn't do very well, at all. And, Wulff really likes having Kooyman, Mattingly and Mullennix as their primary defensive ends, at least for now. But the bottom line is that these changes for both guys are more out of necessity rather than by choice. They just don't have the depth or experience up front, so they are mixing and matching the best they can.
- Wulff talked about Oregon, and raved about their running game. He said it is the best running game in the Pac-10, and 4th in the nation right now. Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount are a fantastic combination, two of the best in the conference. But their offensive line is really a concern. Four seniors, and they are excellent as a unit. He also raved about the tight end, who is an all-conference guy in Ed Dickson. He did say that they will have an inexperienced QB back there, whoever it turns out to be, and that Darron Thomas, the frosh, is the better thrower of the group. But you get the idea that they are expecting Oregon to run it as much as they possibly can. Wulff said the key will be to try and prevent the big play. He said they will NOT stop their run, they will only be able to slow it down, but as long as they tackle well and not give up the big play, he believes they will be ok. He also said the tackling has been better, and in grading the game, they only counted two missed tackles vs. PSU.
- Wulff also said how much better things were with having Xavier Hicks and Alfonso Jackson at safety. He said they have a lot of leadership back there and they are much stronger down the middle of the defense. He said they make the coaches look a lot better when they are on the field.
- Someone asked about the article in the Seattle Times last week, about the whole deal with nutrition and putting muscle on these kids, leadership, etc. Wulff said that the biggest thing is that this is an area, no doubt about it, that has slipped over the last several years. He said part of it is youth and immaturity, but a lot of these kids just have no clue how to eat properly. That's such a huge part of getting stronger, in how they play, how they feel, and that they take it very seriously. The weight room and practice field is important in terms of getting better, but if they aren't eating properly, then all that hard work might not pay off.
- Wulff touched on the O-line. He said they are still trying to get things figured out there, and that there were some mistakes on Saturday. However both hits that took out the QB's were NOT the entire fault of the O-line. He said that in the play they lost Lopina, the blindside shot where the linebacker came free off the edge, there was a miscommunication. Lopina was supposed to check the running back over to that side of the line to help pick up the blitz, but it didn't happen. Therefore the blitzer came totally free. The hit that took out Rogers was simply a late hit, and shouldn't have happened. In a normal circumstance he shouldn't have even been hit. But he did say the line is still a work in progress.
- Finally, Wulff talked about what they need to do this week on offense. He said the biggest thing, above all else, is to take care of the football! They still haven't done that in four games, and they cannot afford turnovers. The other thing is to have some balance on offense, in particular trying to get the ground game going. Oregon is very strong vs. the rush, really shutting down Purdue and Boise State on the ground, so it will be a challenge to get that balance going. But they have to keep Oregon's defense honest and keep Lobbestael out of obvious passing situations. Finally, Lobbestael and the passing game has to be efficient, and most of all, move the chains. They have to be consistent and generate some decent drives in this game.
So there you have it. This week's show. Overall Wulff sounded better, and coming off his first win, you can understand it. But he wasn't overly boisterous or gushing about how well they played, etc. Like he said after the game on Saturday night, they can feel good about it, but they have to get right back to work and get ready for the next one, just like they had to move past the other losses. Yes, they are happy they got win #1 out of the way and all that, but they still have so far to go. I think that is what we are learning about Wulff, in that he's not going to be too much of a rah-rah type of coach. He's not the buttoned down CEO type, or flat-out dry and secretive like some other coaches in this state.....but he's not going to go High School Harry like Pete Carroll and jump around either. He'll show some emotion, but, he's also the leader and wants to stay on an even keel.
We'll be back tomorrow with Football Friday...only on Thursday. Enjoy your Hump-day, and GO COUGS!