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TUESDAY, SEPT. 8, 2009, 8:06 P.M.

From practice to questions, WSU’s day


COUGARS

Talk about a busy Tuesday. Not only do we have our usual stuff, but you probably have had a chance to read the previous posts with the day's other news. Now we will cover what coach Paul Wulff had to say today and what happened at practice. Read on.
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• We were going to start with Wulff's press conferences today but after his comments about Kevin Norrell on the radio show, we thought we better get into that first. Wulff didn't seem too happy to talk about the Norrell situation after practice, challenging a question about the situation and keeping his answers terse and to the point. But he sounded much more relaxed and ready to talk on the show. He told us after practice the unity council would rule on Norrell and, on the show, said they did. According to Wulff, Norrell has been dismissed from the team for the season, which seems to me he will have the opportunity to make amends and return next year, though I have no confirmation of that. As he didn't play Saturday, Norrell does have a redshirt available. … After talking with some players, it's obvious Norrell's actions – missing a game because he was sick, then instead of being home recuperating and getting well for Hawaii, being out at 3 a.m. – has caused a lot of friction with his teammates – no matter what he was doing. The time of the incident alone is hard for his teammates to get over. … Norrell had put in the work over the offseason, was doing things on the field he had not been capable of doing last year and was expected to be a big contributor this season. That's another reason his teammates feel betrayed, and makes it tough for them to understand.

• Now back to the rest of the day. Much of what Wulff talked about today was focused on his team and their opponent Saturday, Hawaii. ... He said the quarterback situation will be handled pretty much the same way it was last week, with Kevin Lopina starting, and Marshall Lobbestael in relief. Again, Wulff said, if Lopina is playing well, he'll continue to play. "We believe both should take a leap of growth this week," Wulff said. ... The defensive backfield rotation should stay the same, Wulff said, though he's hoping to see Jay Matthews (offseason shoulder surgery) be able to play soon. Hawaii's offense is more pass-oriented than Stanford's, so expect some differences defensively this week. ... Eric Block was at practice but not suited up. Daniel Blackledge, who came down with a fever after the game, was not at practice. ... Wulff feels the Cougars ran the no-huddle well, but expects to see it sharper as the weeks go on. He didn't feel the alternating quarterbacks caused any problems. ... The running game was just a little off after the first quarter, Wulff said. He thought there were a few plays in which 10 guys would do their job and one wouldn't, and the play would fail. "We need to shore that up," he said.

• Hawaii is on the horizon, and Wulff said having to bus to Seattle isn't that big of deal. After the bus rides in the Big Sky (Bozeman anybody), no wonder. Anyhow, Wulff said the big guys on offense and defense will get one bus – with extra shocks – while the skill position players will be split between two other buses. ... Wulff turned his attention to Hawaii, a team WSU played just two games ago. He's impressed by the Warriors' quarterback, Greg Alexander, not only his throwing abilities but his running as well. "You wouldn't guess him for a good scrambler for yardage on the ground," Wulff said of the 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior, "but he's deceptive in the pocket, he gets away from things. And then he's decisive when he decides to run." … He said Hawaii has tweaked some things on special teams from last season, but the offensive and defensive schemes seem to be the same. … The defensive personnel is different, with 10 new starters. … And Wulff believes the offense is better than a year ago.

• Practice looked spirited with the defense flying around and the offense still dealing with the week's game plan. Most of Tuesday is devoted to the game plan, with more than one long session used for work against the scout teams. In one of those, defensive lineman Dan Spitz pulled a pass out of the air and rumbled down the field for a touchdown. Brandon Jones had a pick later as well. ... Defensive back Aire Justin was struggling late in practice with a leg problem. ... Louis Bland took the day off from contact, resting his knee like he did last week. ... Marcus Richmond, who missed last week with an ankle sprain, was back. … Johnny Forzani was also back and , depending how his foot responds, may be able to play this week.

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




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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