This is the third year I’ve covered Washington State University football and I can say I’ve never seen a coach more ticked at his team after a practice. Paul Wulff was so angry at the effort expended today he was nearly speechless. Read on for more on the day.
• Really, I can’t tell you what exactly the problem was. In some ways Tuesday’s workout in Martin Stadium was like most other days, with fundamental drills sprinkled throughout, team skelly and a scrimmage to finish up practice. The last period was scheduled for 20 minutes but lasted about 15. After running 15 plays, six for the one offense vs. the two defense and nine for the two offense, which resulted in a Marshall Lobbestael to Colin Huemmer 38-yard touchdown pass behind Terrance Hayward – we’ll tell you why he was playing in a minute – Wulff blew his whistle while the No. 1 offense was getting ready to take the field again. He motioned everyone to the goal line on the east end and started them in 10-yard sprints, offense first, then defense. On and on it went, with the assistant coaches encouraging, but occasionally pointing out someone slacking. As the running continued, a player yelled out “less than two weeks away,” meaning, of course, the Stanford opener. And maybe that’s what pushed Wulff today. Time is running short until the first game. Throughout practice you could tell the assistants weren’t happy with the effort, with co-defensive coordinators Chris Ball and Jody Sears getting on that side of the ball more than any practice this year. The offense wasn’t immune either, with guard Zack Williams being “asked” to leave the field about five minutes into the scrimmage. And then there was the first punt try in the scrimmage, when a player lined up wrong and the long snap hit him, bouncing back toward the line of scrimmage. Was that the last straw? Wulff wasn’t go to go into it. After calling it a bad practice he was asked what he meant by that. Was it because their heads weren’t into it? “Yep,” he said. Did school starting have anything to do with it? Maybe, but who knows? After answering a few questions – the session lasted a little more than two minutes – Wulff did say, “it’s uncharacteristic of how we practice and there are no excuses for it.” And that was that.
• As the No. 2 offense ground its way down the field – it converted two first downs and was able to get out of a second-and-15 and second-and-18 holes – before Lobbestael’s touchdown throw, Brandon Jones came up to help make a play on a flat pass. En route, he collided with receiver Randy Johnson and went down. The diagnosis was a sprained ankle, but no time line was given. Aire Justin also left practice with an ice bag on his left thumb, though there’s no news on how serious it is. … Linebacker Louis Bland was given the day off, allowing his knee a rest. … Linebacker Andy Mattingly and receiver Daniel Blackledge returned to practice and participated in almost every drill. … Receiver Kevin Norrell took a blow to the eye early in practice sat out a while, but his vision cleared and he was back by the end. … Alex Hoffman-Ellis was in full pads but didn’t participate in many drills. Receiver Johnny Forzani had pads on as well, but also didn’t go much. … Freshman linebacker Andre Barrington was given the OK by the NCAA Clearinghouse and was back in pads. … Ball told a Seattle radio station Barrington and cornerback Nolan Washington, both freshmen, would redshirt this year. Washington was out for a while and is wearing a yellow, no-contact jersey. … Former Cougar coach, and the guy who recruited Wulff, Jim Walden was at practice, getting ready for his job as the Cougars’ radio color man. … Freshman safety Jamal Atofau, suspended after he was arrested early Monday morning , was back at practice. “We got the details ironed out,” Wulff said.
• There were some new faces at practice, players who are eligible to join the team when school starts. Included in that group was another quarterback, Zach Gavin, along with players who were around last year, running backs Casey Thometz and Remy Martin and linebackers Andrew Kreutz, Sam Tennant and Omari Guidry, around last spring. Kicker Blake Dunn was scheduled to be a school start – only 105 players can be out before school begins – but with openings available, he came in early.
• One thing Wulff addressed, albeit briefly, was the quarterback situation. Asked if there was a chance WSU could use two quarterbacks this season, Wulff answered, “that’s always a possibility. We’ll see what happens. We’re still a little ways away from that. It could happen if nobody separates themselves.”
• That’s it for tonight. We’ll be back as usual tomorrow morning with our links. Until then …