Hello Coug fans,
Longball here to bring you another re-cap of the Paul Wulff Radio Show. From the cozy confines of the Hilltop Restaurant and Lounge in Pullman, here’s what you missed if you couldn’t tune in this week.
Read on for more...
Just like last week, the conversation started out about the weather. Of course, this is how most conversations start out on the Palouse during the Fall. Bud talked about how nice it was to practice inside the bubble on Monday and took a little ribbing from coach Wulff for being absent from today’s practice in the chilly outdoors. Wulff noted that the indoor practice was mostly a lot of “walking and talking”, or in other words, a lot of instruction and not a lot of action. For this type of practice being indoors makes it easier for the coaches to communicate effectively. Tomorrow the Cougs will be back in full pads, but as has been the case in recent weeks, the contact will be limited to help mitigate the wear and tear this team is facing as they enter week nine of eleven straight game weeks.
Bud and Coach Wulff talked a bit about this week’s opponent, the Arizona State Sun Devils. While they were beaten bad last week at Cal (50-17), Coach Wulff pointed out that this is a team that played really well against Wisconsin and Oregon, and beat UW in Seattle, so they can be very tough. He also said they came out a little flat after their bye week, but expects them to be ready this Saturday. Bud asked if it was important to get off to a fast start against a team like ASU and Wulff said that playing with an early lead was definitely important to this team and something they are really eager to do.
Bud moved on to the Stanford game and asked Coach Wulff what he liked and didn’t like about the Cougs performance this past weekend on the Farm. Coach Wulff said that at times he was pleased with how physical the Cougs were able to be against a big, tough, mature offensive line, but that we just weren’t able to do it consistently. On offense, Coach Wulff noted that while there were lots of positives, there were still dropped passes, missed 3rd down conversions, turnovers and other costly errors. He also said that Stanford was able to dominate the time of possession and really wear the Cougs down, especially in the 2nd quarter.
As far as the physical play, Coach Wulff said that while his team isn’t always as physical as he’d like, they are still way ahead of where they were in previous years and will continue to get better. He went on to say that he has coached some big, physical, mature teams before and that it really allows you to control a game. It is something they look forward to in the coming years.
Paul in Tacoma called in and asked about the 4th and short at the end of the half, where the Cougars elected to punt instead of going for it. Coach Wulff said that they only considered it briefly, but that mostly he was concerned that they should have had the first but were given a poor spot. He said they took their time after the play hoping it would get reviewed and even called a timeout, but the spot stood.
He also said that it was just a mistake on Karstetter’s part to take a step back after the reception when he already had the first down, and that they have reviewed it on film and will learn from it.
Linda called in on her way to the game via Nevada, and handed the phone to Dan (her husband?). He asked how Tuel graded out for the game. Wulff said he did well, but of course there were things to work on like the interceptions. Dan then asked if there was any news on the injury front. Coach Wulff didn’t get into specifics, but that there are a lot of guys just nicked up right now and a few positions may be a bit thin because of it. Finally Dan asked if we were going to cover the spread again this week. Coach Wulff got a chuckle out of that question and asked Dan if he happened to be in Vegas. Dan said he was in the Sports Book with his hand on his wallet. Coach Wulff’s advice… “always bet on the Cougs.”
ASU will be without their starting QB this week and Bud asked what kind of effect that has on game planning. Coach Wulff said that it does, since each QB brings different strengths to the field, but that their main concern when facing the ASU offense is their running attack, and that they have 2 very dangerous running backs to plan for.
Bud mentioned last years game against ASU in Pullman when the Cougars forced 6 turnovers out of the Sun Devils, but as Coach Wulff added, they were not able to take advantage on offense.
Bud brought up an interesting statistic that the Cougar offense has scored over 100 points against Pac-10 foes so far this year while they scored a total of just over 80 all of last year. Coach Wulff said that they have some really exciting young players at the skill positions and they are only going to get better. Of course, this turned the conversation to freshman wide receiver Marquess Wilson, who is breaking every freshman receiving record in the book, and Coach Wulff said what has impressed him most is his consistency; no matter who the opponent is he comes out and does great every week.
Bud asked what Coach Levenseller would say about Wilson, and Coach Wulff said that Levy would say he’s got a lot of room to grow, especially in the weight room, and become an even more physical receiver.
After some brief discussion of ASU’s current 6 game win streak in the series and the need for the Cougs to reverse that trend, the conversation turned to the questionable (and that’s putting it nicely) “targeting” call made against the Cougs on Saturday. Wulff said that this type of call is different than helmet to helmet calls, and that while he’s not 100% clear on it, he believes it is supposed to keep defensive players from taking big shots on defenseless offensive players. As far as the play on Saturday is concerned, its clear Coach Wulff does not agree with the call, in fact he said they showed the play to the team on film and told them in that situation to do just exactly what the player did. He said it’s simply a judgment call by the ref, and if they choose to call it there’s nothing you can do about it.
At this point Bud brought up the importance of discipline and how the Cougs are the least penalized team in the Pac-10 this season. Coach Wulff said that while it is a good thing not to get stupid penalties, there isn’t much of a link between penalties and winning or losing. He said he has been on some very good teams that were penalized a lot. Bud noted that the Cougars 1988 Aloha Bowl team that Coach Wulff played on was one of the most penalized teams in the league. Of course that team was coached by this week's opponent, Dennis Erickson, whose Sun Devils just happen to be one of the most penalized teams in the league. Go figure.
Bud noted that last year against ASU the Cougs had 26 plays that netted 0 or negative yards. He asked Coach Wulff what would be a typical, or acceptable amount of negative plays. Coach Wulff said that they shoot for a completion rate of 70% which would be 8-10 incompletions per game and that they would like to have no negative runs and no sacks, while averaging at least 4 yards per carry.
Speaking of yards per carry, Bud asked about the running back rotation and if they could expect to see Arthur Burns this week. Coach Wulff said, only if they feel he is ready and noted that after spending a lot of time on defense he needs to adjust to getting hit while holding onto the ball. Noting that last week, Carl Winston and Marcus Richmond made good on some chances to run the ball after James Montgomery and Logwone Mitz had trouble with fumbles, Wulff said “Ball security equals playing time.”
Bud then asked when you have a lot of players going in and out at running back, who decides who goes in? Wulff said it is often the running back coach, Dave Ungerer, but that he and Todd Sturdy will also put guys in during certain situations. At the end of the day, he said they would rather just settle on 2 guys they count on to get most of the reps, but they just aren’t there yet. It will be an interesting week for our running backs as both Bud and Coach Wulff noted that ASU is very stout up front. Coach Wulff added that this will be a big challenge for the offensive line.
Bud and Coach Wulff talked briefly about the upcoming schedule, including a home date in December for Apple Cup. Bud noted that this will likely be the last time we see a December home game, with the new Pac-12 schedule starting next year and Coach Wulff quipped, unless the Cougs host the conference championship game. A-men to that!
Bud talked again about the offensive line and how freshman John Fullington held up in his first start at left tackle. Coach Wulff said he did very well and that he is a good enough player that even when he makes a mistake he can recover and finish the play strong. Bud noted that coach Morton and the offensive linemen were the first unit on the field for practice today and were very spirited. Coach Wulff said that they have some really good young players and are very excited about the future of the offensive line.
Caller John asked about Gino Simone and why he hasn’t been involved more. Coach Wulff said that Gino looked really good entering Fall camp, but then missed an entire month with a nagging hamstring injury. He noted that he is just now starting to get his strength and quickness back. Coach Wulff also went on to praise Gino’s contributions as an “abassador” for the program, an asset in recruiting and a leader in the locker room.
Coach Wulff continued to talk about the receiving corps and how it is one position that has the kind of competition they want to see at every position. He said they have a young, deep and talented receiving corps and as they mature “We will throw the ball as well as Washington State has ever done.”
In regards to the passing game, Bud brought up that Jeff Tuel is the only Pac-10 QB to have thrown for over 200 yards in every game. Coach Wulff said that those 200 yard games are going to be 300 yard games as we move forward.
Bud wrapped up the show by talking about none other than Reid Forrest. Coach Wulff praised him for putting up the kind of numbers he has, especially considering he has done it in a blustery climate like Pullman. He said that experience translates well to the NFL as it has for players like Jason Hansen and Rien Lindell. Bud noted that it seems all but inevitable that Forrest is going to break Kyle Basler’s career punting record at WSU. Of course, coach Wulff gave the only answer he could: “It’d be nice if he didn’t”.
That’s all for this week folks. If you live in an area that carries the show be sure to tune in on Tuesday nights at 7:00. The phone lines are open so if you have a question for Coach Wulff call in, I can almost guarantee you will get on the air.
Have a great week and Go Cougs!