- 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.
"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!