- 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!
ENJOY YOUR THURSDAY, and GO COUGS!