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WSU’s players try to make sense of loss


COUGARS

Before we got on our flight from Dallas to Seattle – a flight once again full of Oregon State fans, a little less exuberant going home than they were headed out – we put together a couple things for tomorrow’s S-R. You can read our story online, and we have a little more on the link, so read on.

••••••••••

• Here’s our look back at Saturday’s game. Before that, however, we have a few things coach Paul Wulff had to say on his press conference, a conference we missed because we were somewhere over West Texas …

• Some things I can pass on from Wulff’s presser. Rickey Galvin had surgery Sunday night on his broken right arm and is out for the season. Jared Byers has torn ligaments in his left knee and will be out for awhile and may be out for the season. So if you are keeping track at home, that’s possibly five players lost for this year already. … Jared Karstetter’s status is up in the air, as is Gino Simone’s as well. … One area Wulff pointed out was the special teams played exceptionally well, only a misread by a backup on the punt block marred that. … He also liked the offense, especially the offensive line, calling its play “awfully good.” … He mentioned the tackling problems and the inability to get off blocks. … “You can’t hand somebody over 21 points as easily as we did,” Wulff said, talking about the three turnovers that led to touchdowns. … There were players, Wulff said, that tried to do more than they should have. That was a problem last year according to Kevin Kooyman, and Wulff knows it has to be stopped. … Wulff admitted OSU did a lot of stuff the Cougars hadn’t seen before, as Chima Nwachukwu talks about in our story in tomorrow’s paper. “It put us on heels,” Wulff said. “They did something we had no idea was coming, it stymied us, then you add a great tailback (Kendall Hunter) on top of it, it kept us on our heels on defense. … We weren’t prepared for it. … We just have to adapt to it and make plays.” … Freshman John Fullington played 40 snaps Saturday, made some mistakes, but also made some plays. … “We’re very positive in our football building,” Wulff said, saying the team is improved but “we have to show it.” … Wulff called Hunter “maybe the best (tailback) I’ve seen in person in my two years here.” He emphasized you have to give your opponent credit, so he had a part in the missed tackles. … “They made some mistakes, but we have some young players who make some plays,” Wulff said, saying the young guys might play more coming off the OSU game. They showed they deserve it. … Wulff talked about Mizell, saying he’s a physical presence he hasn’t had. But he also added Mizell has to show more consistency in practice. I would add he has to show more consistent effort in practice. … Got to catch another plane, so we’ll have more in the morning.

•••

• And now the look back …

Oklahoma State 65, WSU 17

• High point of the game

No contest. It was Jeff Tuel’s 48-yard second-quarter scoring pass to freshman Marquess Wilson that cut the Oklahoma State lead to 17-10. With the Cowboys playing a zone, Wilson found the seam between the cornerback and the safety. Tuel’s pass led him back to the middle, the safety was late, Wilson cut into the open area and was gone. He finished with four catches for 108 yards, the first 100-yard game for a freshman receiver since Jeshua Anderson burst on the scene against Oregon in 2007 with 127 yards.

• Low point of the game

OK, you could make an argument for the first-play fumble, but that was yesterday’s news. Today we take a two-play sequence. The first is Nico Grasu’s 4-yard-run on fourth-and-5 from the OSU 37, a trick play that Richetti Jones ruined. The second was Kendall Hunter’s 66-yard sprint on the next snap, a yard short of making the score 31-10. After that play, and the ensuing touchdown, the Cougars had no chance.

• A pat on the back

We’re going with sophomore safety Tyree Toomer not for his game-high eight tackles, though that number is pat worthy. And not for his explosion of Hunter early in the second quarter that helped set up WSU’s first score, though that deserves a pat as well. No, he earns this award for a missed tackle. When Hunter bulled over from the 2 as time ran out in the first half, it was Toomer who tried to rope him down at the line of scrimmage. But Hunter won the battle, and Toomer, on the ground after the futile attempt, pounded the turf three times with an open right palm. This is a guy who cares. And has pride in his play.

• Needs fixing

Pointing out the tackling problems is just too easy, and was well covered in the game coverage. There’s another defensive skill that needs attention as well. Throughout the fall camp the defensive front seven has shown the ability to meet a blocker at the point of attack, shed him and make a play. Shedding blocks isn’t easy, but it’s necessary if a defense is to make plays near the line of scrimmage. Too often Saturday the OSU line locked up the Cougar front seven, giving Hunter and his mates a free pass to the second level.

Three unanswered questions

• Can this team learn how to win? Sure. “We’ve got to have success,” Wulff said when asked Saturday how the Cougars accomplish that goal. “We’ve got to have some games where we come in and compete with somebody. And we’ve got to start winning some games.” Their best opportunity might be this week, when Montana State comes to town. But the Bobcats were ranked 24th nationally in the FCS last week and that was before they won their opener 59-10 over Division II Fort Lewis State, putting up 532 yards in the process.

• Will anyone show up Saturday? Early season games against Big Sky Conference foes haven’t usually drawn well at WSU anyway, but coming off consecutive 11-loss seasons and a debilitating defeat to open this one, how many fans will make the trip to Pullman? Another factor is the long-range forecasts call for cool temperatures and a chance of showers. But this is a game WSU will be favored to win and that has to count for a few fannies in the seats.

• Who will be playing receiver? The group is as deep as receivers coach Mike Levenseller has ever had, but midway through the first quarter, three of the seven he was counting on were unavailable. Freshman Kristoff Williams didn’t make the trip due to a turf toe injury. Sophomore Gino Simone tried to go but his balky hamstring wouldn’t let him. Then junior Jared Karstetter, last year’s leading receiver, was dropped with a hard hit and was done due to a concussion. How many will be back is unsure. We do know, though, Wilson, will play.

•••••

• That’s all for now. As we said, we’ll be back in the morning. Until then …


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