- Practice report from Tuesday was an "excellent" practice. Everyone came ready to work hard and the coaches were all impressed by the effort and enthusiasm. It's tough right now, obviously, but they are doing everything they can to remain positive. Have to have the right mindset, and realize that in a brand new system, in just five games they have already started three different quarterbacks, five different offensive line combinations and five different groups of wide receivers/tight ends. For a season of change, it's been nothing but change across the board every single week, and it's really difficult to develop continuity/consistency that way.
- They are already down to just three QB's on the roster, so, next Monday, if you are on campus and can play the position? Head on down for TRYOUTS! Right now we simply need the body, period.
- Wulff talked about Marshall Ocho Rojo. He thought he did a very good job, considering 1) the quality of the opponent in Oregon, one of the quickest, most physical teams he'll see all season; 2) the youth of our offensive line and skill positions; 3) the fact that it was his first start, at home, for homecoming. Add it all up and he did just fine. Had three drives that went well, two for TD passes and one other one that he had Brandon Gibson wide open for a TD but missed him. Wulff also said that he has no doubt that Marshall's game is going to come fast, faster than they expected initially. He's classy, competitive, hates to make mistakes. He's an absolute film guy, all the way, and Wulff said right now he's watching more film than anyone on the roster, coaches included! He is calm, cool, collected, and handles him self extremely well. Wulff has no doubt he will develop into a fine player over the next four years (this is the closest I've heard Wulff "gush" about a player on the roster, so, I think you can read between the lines to understand that Lobbestael is going to be THE GUY for the forseeable future).
- Wulff mentioned in the open that there will be some new faces, again, in the lineup. Wulff said that Louis Bland will start at linebacker, as he has moved ahead of Ken Dunn. Wulff did gush a little about Bland, in how he was a two-time state champion wrestler, two-time class president, all-state, all-area, all-everything, player of the year, etc. And a really good looking young linebacker. Bland has the mental toughness and physical traits that they want to build the program with going forward, exactly the kind of kid they are looking for. Tyree Toomer will also play this week, although probably as a backup, but he will definitely play in the secondary. Wulff went out of his way to say how both Bland and Toomer are talented, but also showing some tremendous leadership and they've only been in the program for a few months. Very impressive kids.
- A caller asked about recruiting, and especially about the units they will make a priority going foward. Without hesitation Wulff mentioned (surprise!) the D-line. They need depth, now, and they will spend multiple scholarships on defensive linemen. A quick look at the current commits, and out of six players, three are defensive linemen. We can expect more to come most likely. The caller also asked about the traits they look for in offensive linemen. I thought this was interesting in that Wulff stated for tackles, they are looking for big kids, but they want the lean body types coming out of high school, almost the offensive tackle/tight end kids in that 6-4/6-5, 250-lb range. They want to be able to add the "right kind of weight" on their frames and that the weight they have at a young age is lean. They want their tackles to be quick enough and have good enough footwork to handle the speedy defensive ends that they will face every week. For the guards, they want the thicker kids, but still, ones with a good frame that they can pack on the muscle with proper weight training and nutrition (more on that later). For centers, they want a strong mental player, one that is capable of handling all the line calls on every play, things like that.
- Bob-Rob asked about the recruiting process right now. So far it's gone well, and they are working hard. Wulff stressed that "you have to recruit every single day, or else you will pay for it down the line." I thought this might have been a bit of a swipe at the prior staff? But Wulff stressed repeatedly how recruiting is 24/7 now, much different compared to back in the day. They watch tape of recruits, write letters, make phone calls, everything they can do on a day-to-day basis. They also are constantly contacting the high school coaches and also are part of some recruiting services where they always get updates on players they are looking for.
- Wulff also touched on the relationship with the state of WA coaches. It is a HUGE deal, and he said that the relationship is so good that many of the high school coaches WANT to help and send kids to Wulff! (I know that was touted when he was hired, but I think that will really pay off going forward.) They also have visits every weekend, and just had four kids in for last weekend.
- One very cool thing, and an example of the President's involvement with the program, is that President Floyd actually met with one of the recruits and his family last weekend! Wulff said you will rarely find that at any school in the country, where a President will actually meet with football recruits. It just doesn't happen very often.
- Wulff also touched on his first recruiting class, signed in February. Wulff said that they are all doing well, and the encouraging thing is that nobody has quit the team(!). But seriously, they are all working very hard and are getting a chance to play if they earn it. They all get up at 5:30 in the morning and hit the weight room too, each and every one of them, so the seeds are being planted right now with this group of what it takes to get better. But most of all he said many of them are driven, passionate and there are some very good leaders in this first group.
- Wulff was asked about UCLA. He said that they are somewhat similar in that they are down a couple of QB's as well, and they have a whole new staff. He also stressed that with new staffs come completely new systems, and you have players making many mistakes in the first month of a new regime. It happens everywhere. Wulff stressed that turnovers continue to kill them, and they are now minus-13 in turnover ratio. Once again, that must change immediately if they have hope to get a win. They cannot afford to keep doing it.
- Wulff talked about Kevin Craft at UCLA and how he's played. He said sure, he's got five INT's this year, but four of them were in the first half vs. Tennessee. He's had some rough spots but he's already doing a better job of taking care of the ball.
- A caller asked about the culture and what goes into making changes. Wulff said basically they are trying to set some new, basic standards for what the players will be accountable for. But they are trying to preach about how the right way to do things, things like the weight room and proper nutrition. Wulff said if they don't take it seriously, especially the nutrition, then they will never reach their peak physically. They must eat correctly, they must do the work in the weight room, or else. The caller asked if they were getting a lot of push-back from the veteran players? Wulff said well, yes and no. He said some of them are happy with the changes and are getting the structure they crave. But others aren't taking too well to it. But he said it's nobody's fault, really, and that it's just a new way of doing things. People in all walks of life are often resistant to change, that's no secret. But he said that mainly the older players it's harder on because they just don't know any different than what they've been taught all along. It's the old dog/new trick deal, where you are trying to get them to break the bad habits and develop some new ones. It takes time to get there.
- Wulff was asked about in-state recruiting and how important that is. He stressed, again, the relationships with the high school coaches and that they've got a very good advantage there when it comes to the staff he's assembled and their experience in recruiting the state. But Wulff said that's only half the battle, and they still need to entice the kids to stay at "home" as much as they can. They have to WANT to stay home. He also touched on the stadium renovations and how much that will help going forward. That stuff really does help sell recruits and contribute to the gameday experience. He also spoke about the Oregon schools and how much they have put into their facilities, and what do you know, look at how it's paying off? Both schools have pulled ahead of the WA schools in the northwest, and it's no coincidence that their facilities improved, so did their records. Wulff truly believes we will close the gap, and sooner rather than later. The biggest thing with recruiting is the opportunity to build layers upon layers of depth, but it simply takes time to get the kids in and then develop them.
- Finally, sort of a funny one but Wulff asked Levy today about his thoughts on this year's team. Levy has been at WSU for 17 years, and has seen some real highs and lows, obviously. But Levy did say that he honestly sees progress, and really believes they are about to show some big improvement. He can see it coming. HOWEVER, Wulff wouldn't reveal exactly where he rated the 2008 WSU Cougars compared to some of the other teams Levy has been a part of! Needless to say, it's not hard to figure out where he ranked them. :)
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
I will try and be brief, yet hit the key points. As usual, we'll jump right in: