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WSU’s busy Tuesday


COUGARS

I know you’ve been waiting all day (and I’m late from the time I said I would put up this post). But let me tell you, the wait was so worth it. We have, on this post alone, a summary of what coach Paul Wulff had to say today at his press conference, and a practice report including a list of the players missing this day due to illness. So settle in and read on.

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• Wulff spoke with the media for some 15 to 20 minutes, covering subjects from how fall camp went to how he expects Stanford to play. Let’s get to what he had to say. … He and his team are more than ready to get going, to hit someone else (the players, not Wulff; he’s not Tom Cable). He felt the fall camp was productive, with only one practice he would label bad. A big part of that was the lack of injuries, with only a few guys out and most of them expected back today and this weekend. … Why did he make the decision he did about the quarterback? “Nobody ‘quote’ won the position,” Wulff said. “Both earned the right to participate.” … He expects James Montgomery to play this weekend and to split carries with Dwight Tardy. … Logwone Mitz will play too. … There’s some news out of the defensive backfield. Chima Nwachukwu may still play some corner even though Brandon Jones will start and play. It seems the other corner, either Daniel Simmons or Aire Justin, may need some backup. If LeAndre Daniels and Eric Block can bounce back from the flu, Wulff feels there’s more depth at safety than corner. … Jason Stripling has asserted himself at linebacker. He still needs to get in better shape, but he’s a starter. … Louis Bland is the one backup linebacker they have faith in and he’s ready at all three spots. … He wants the defense to be more physical and the secondary to tackle better. He expects both. … Bernard Wolfgramm has also asserted himself in practice and is still getting healthier. …

• Wulff talked a little about backup center Andrew Roxas, but wouldn’t go into details on the illness he’s been suffering from. But, with Roxas back at practice Tuesday, I talked with him then. Roxas had returned to LA to see a specialist – the largest fire is not too far from his parent’s home – and that specialist told him he had suffered from a viral form of hepatitis. The doctor said his body had been affected greatly, but the virus was gone now – Roxas said the doctor thought it had hit him for about two weeks – and he would be feeling better. The virus hit his liver hard, putting strain on his kidneys, so Roxas is drinking water like a fish. He also said the illness caused him to lose about 30 pounds and he believes he’ll redshirt this year to get feeling better and put the weight back on. …

• Wulff then got back to football, talking about the offensive goal is balance, but the 50/50 ratio changes game by game, depending on how successful they feel they can be or what’s working. … He talked about the two true freshmen, Gino Simone and Travis Long, who will start for sure and the third, Darren Markle, who will play. As they are a subject of my story later this week, we’ll keep this short, but Wulff did say he hopes that are the only three who will appear in a game this season, because every other freshman will redshirt unless injuries force their hand. … He praised the strides the offensive line has made, and says he can’t wait to see them in a game. … Louis Bland will play Saturday, is backing up at all three linebacker spots but is still not 100 percent. He’s going to have to play himself into shape, Wulff said. … There will be game captains again this year and they’ll be chosen after practice each Friday by the team’s Unity Council. Think Kenny Alfred will be one? … Talked some about Andrew Luck, saying as far as they know – he’s a redshirt freshman – he’s very athletic and has been throwing the ball well this fall. But Stanford’s bread-and-butter is its running game with Toby Gerhart. “They’re physical,” he said, “and they try to wear you down.”

• Wulff also talked on the Pac-10 media conference call – there’s also tonight’s coach’s show on radio, so if you get the idea he talks a lot on Tuesdays, you would be right – and was asked right away about last year’s Stanford game and whether he had watched the film. “We burned all our film from last year,” he quipped, before saying they aren’t looking back much and were focusing on what they face Saturday. Later he was asked if he thought the Cougars would play better this time around. “Sure darn hope so,” he said. … Of course the quarterback situation came up and in answer to one question he said Saturday’s game was an opportunity for both to make a statement. Later he said Lopina is starting but he “wouldn’t consider him our starting quarterback for the year.” … Asked about what he learned last year, his first in the Pac-10, he said the Xs and Os weren’t much different, but “what I learned is this conference is very, very tough every week.”

• The one thing I learned from today’s Pac-10 media call? Some people in this business are lazier than heck. One person asked Pac-10 commissioner where he was from before the Pac-10 and where he went to college, all stuff that’s available with a 30-second internet search. Jeez. … Pete Carroll said Matt Barkley has grasped the Trojans offense as fast or faster than any quarterback he’s had at SC. … Oregon State has two senior quarterbacks, Sean Canfield and Lyle Moevao, but the latter is still recovering from a throwing arm injury. Mike Riley said Moevao is doing everything but throwing the ball with some steam on it. When the fastball comes back, he’ll have to figure out how to play two quarterbacks.

• OK, now to practice. There were five guys out with the flu, including receiver Kevin Norrell and defensive backs Aire Justin and Terrance Hayward. Sophomore safety Tyree Toomer, Wulff said, has a torn pectoral muscle, will need surgery and will be out for the year. And freshman offensive lineman Tim Hodgdon is out with a right knee sprain. James Montgomery was in yellow but practiced. Johnny Forzani is not ready to practice yet. … With Daniels back at practice, Nwachukwu spent a lot of time at cornerback opposite Jones. … Most of practice was spent getting ready for Stanford, with scout teams running the Cardinal defense and offense. The WSU starting defense seems to have deciphered the Stanford formations well, with only an occasional correction from the coaches. … There were five new walk-ons in uniform after a tryout session last week. We’ll have more information about them tomorrow. … Jim Walden won’t be on the radio this Saturday. He’s being honored at the University of Wyoming. Mark Rypien will fill in.

•••

• That’s it for tonight. We’ll be back tomorrow morning with our usual links. . Until then …


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