Thursday, August 06, 2009
Good morning Cougs. Hope you are all enjoying the cooling off period we are experiencing in the beautiful pacific northwest. It's only creeping into the 70's now, quite a difference from last week's triple-digit scorchers.
Lost in all the previews and such this time of year, none other than Paul Wulff hopped on KJR with Mitch Levy for an interview on Tuesday. If you haven't heard it yet, check it out here.
It is a good listen if you have the seven or so minutes to give it a go. Wulff is candid, speaking on a variety of things. And say what we will about KJR from time to time (and we say a lot), after all they are the UW flagship station. But Mitch Levy is one of the best in the biz in terms of handling player and coach interviews. He isn't shy about asking some sticky subjects, and always does what he can to kind of peel back the layers and get some of these guys to open up a bit more than the norm.
Wulff touches on the usual things we've heard before - the players weren't physically ready for PAC-10 play, changing the culture, surprised at the lack of nutrition and eating right, etc. Things we've been hearing for the last year-plus.
But he also hits on a few other things that I haven't heard from him, such as some deeper self-evaluation for himself and the staff. He said things like "As a coaching staff, maybe we went too fast last year and didn't take into account what our players were capable of handling mentally and physically. Looking back, maybe we should have slowed down on some things." He also spoke on the state of the program when he arrived, saying there "were things spiraling out of control and the program was in a tailspin when we arrived. There were situations happening on the inside that people didn't hear about but the changes we made were necessary".
He also said he's been doing a lot of reading about certain things this year, things like change. He's found that it's easy to just make change, but the reality is that people really won't fully change for maybe a couple of years. This isn't the NFL where you can go out and sign free agents to fill holes. Instead you have to go out, recruit players and build them into what you want them to become. And that takes time. Not only is it about recruiting the players that fit what you want to do, but you ALSO have to get the current crop of players to embrace the changes. Again, it all takes time.
He also lists some quickie things to be excited about (you mean there's something to be excited about??), including:
Defense - We will be mentally stronger and clearly a more physical football team on defense. When asked about Andy Mattingly, Wulff says could be an NFL player, depending on his season and how he fits with some teams on the next level, but he needs to have a great year.
Personally I'm a big fan of Mattingly. The glimpses he showed in '07 are that of an impact, game-changing linebacker who can be a real headache for opposing teams to deal with. Now that he's back at his natural position, and it's his senior year, I feel like he's on the cusp of going out with a bang.
He also spoke about Chima Nwachukwu and Brandon Jones in the secondary, and says Jones will open a lot of eyes this year.
Offense - o-line should be much improved, and there is solid depth there and at running game. He's also excited about the QB and passing game, with a lot of youth at WR but some game experience now. Special teams will be improved as there is more depth this year, plus both kicker and punter are returning. EVERY AREA will be much improved.
We've touched on this in the past as well, but we're talking about young kids. Sure, they are resilient and often times just need some strong leadership to steer them in the right direction. But I don't think we, on the outside looking in, can fully know what last season must have been like with the vast differences between the two coaching staffs. That shock to the system was probably a big part of why they hit rock-bottom last year. But they are going in the right direction.
Looking around, Buster Sports has a list of the Top-10 PAC-10 QB's for '09. Guess which team didn't have a player listed??
UW blogger John Berkowitz takes a quick look at WSU, and basically declares UW will kick our asses in November, and doesn't see WSU winning a single game. I hesitated to even link to it, but you may want to check it out. Of course, his crystal ball has got his own UW in bowl contention in '09. The same UW team that failed to win a game last year and was actually worse that WSU. So if you do click over, just know that going in.
ESPN dropped their list of the top 150 recruits in the country. No, no WSU commits on the list. In fact, very few PAC-10 teams actually have players in the top 150, with just NINE commitments right now. But it's still just August, and a lot of undecideds are on the list.
That's all for now. Enjoy your Thursday, and GO COUGS!