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.
ENJOY YOUR WEDNESDAY, and GO COUGS!