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WSU plays it cool at practice


COUGARS

There is a line in the musical "Oklahoma" about the wind whistling down the plains. In the Palouse the only thing that the wind whistles down is your neck. OK, I wanted to say something a little more derogatory, but bit my tongue. Didn't feel any pain, though, because it was frozen. ... But I jest. Yes, it was cool in the football field Tuesday, cooler than it needs to be in late October, but former Cougar Kenny Alfred was in shorts and a light jacket, so it couldn't have been well-digger-rear-end cold. It just seemed that way to us old folks watching practice. We have notes from the practice and Paul Wulff's press conferences, delayed some from the icicles on my fingers. Again I jest, so read on.
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• We'll run this stuff chronologically, because we're not smart enough to figure another way. Wulff spoke on the Pac-10 call and praised his team for the effort and the way it's played the last three games against really good opponents. Whether it continues this week remains to be seen. ... Wulff also praised defensive end Travis Long for his toughness and said he and fellow sophomore Jeff Tuel are taking over leadership roles on the team. ... As for Stanford, Wulff thought the defensive front got pushed around some, though not consistently. ... And ASU? The Sun Devils are athletic, Wulff said, have excellent depth and a physical defensive line. Plus, he said, "I know they are going to be fired up to play." ... I kicked off his local press conference asking about Daniel Simmons' health. Wulff's answer is moot now, because the sophomore cornerback was cleared to return to practice today after his concussion. He did wear a yellow jersey. ... I then asked if Moos had recruited Bo Moos, a defensive tackle at ASU, and Wulff said yes. But EWU was not going to be in the picture, so the recruiting didn't last long. ... There were other questions concerning players whose health we covered yesterday, like Nolan Washington. We will interject here that C.J. Mizell did not practice today due to a quad bruise. He's expected back tomorrow. ... Wulff went into more about ASU's defense, calling the defensive line the most physical WSU has faced this season. The ASU offense has turned the ball over this season, giving the defense too many holes to dig out of. ... To win, Wulff said, the Cougars must win the turnover battle, be plus-two or something of that nature. ... Though WSU did not wear pads for Tuesday's practice, they will for Wednesday. ... The ability of kids like Deone Bucannon, C.J. Mizell, John Fullington and Sekope Kaufusi to come off the bench and make an impact is a testament to the recruiting, Wulff said, and gives him faith the Cougars' recruiting criteria are solid. ... We've covered the main elements of practice, with the injury news, but one other interesting thing stood out. Defensive tackle Steven Hoffart, recovered from his bout of mono, was running with the No. 1 defensive line in the spot usually held by Brandon Rankin. That's the first time I've seen Hoffart that high on the depth chart this year. ... The Nov. 6 home game with California will kick off at 1 p.m. and be televised by Fox Sports Northwest.

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• That's all for tonight. We'll be back in the morning with our usual posts, including a link to our Pac-10 notes. Until then ...




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Vince Grippi





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