Each Tuesday afternoon, Paul Wulff holds a press conference in which he looks forward to the next opponent, in this case USC. The Trojans will be in Martin Stadium on Saturday (noon; FS Northwest) for the first time since the 69-0 shellacking in 2008. And the first time without Pete Carroll in a long, long time. We have a summary of what Wulff had to say, along with his comments on the earlier Pac-10 call, on the link, so read on.
• Wulff's comments to the Pac-10 media started with a quick look back at SMU, saying the Cougars did a better job defensively against the Mustangs this year as compared to 2009. He also thought the offense was more consistent, but the pass protection wasn't as good. ... His first comments about USC revolved round the Trojans' physical nature on both sides of the ball. He also is impressed with how balanced their offense is. ... He doesn't expect any lineup changes other than ones that might come about because players get healthy. ... He admitted the play of the offensive line has been inconsistent, which bothers him. He understands some of that, what with three guys (two JC and a true freshman) playing a lot who have never played at this level before. It has to get seasoned and grow up. The mental mistakes, the major problem, don't happen as often with the experienced players. ... The USC pass defense has been torched at times this year and Wulff believes the Cougars should be able to do some things, if they can protect Jeff Tuel. ... Unlike Lane Kiffin, who seems to have an affinity for the two-point conversion, Wulff believes in using it only when needed.
• The local media call began with me asking about any changes in USC what with the new coaching staff. Wulff said the offense is really the same one the Trojans have been running since Norm Chow was the offensive coordinator. The defense, under the direction of Lane's dad Monte, is quite different, playing a couple different Cover 2s and some Cover 1. ... He talked about the great depth USC has a running back. ... He does believe USC has cleaned up a lot of things defensively since the Hawaii debacle, but part of the improvement is the two opponents since the opener have more balanced offenses. ... There was a question about the effect the NCAA sanctions are having on USC and Wulff went into a long answer about down the road. He said the Trojans will fill it more as the years stretch on and their scholarships start to disappear. ... As we told you last night on the blog, Toni Pole had to have his leg cleaned out. Whether he will redshirt or not is still up in the air, as is the status of Kristoff Williams, who is still feeling pain in his toe. As the days wear on, however, the chances of either or both redshirting grow. ... He also mentioned Chima Nwachukwu will be back at practice today, albeit in a yellow jersey. ... One other difference in the USC defense this year. The Trojans stay with a four-man front more often. ... Asked about the USC offensive line, which Kiffin said earlier in the day has been inconsistent, Wulff said he sees USC still trying to get all the pieces to fit up front. But even if they are inconsistent – and that's still up in the air since the Trojans rushed for 233 yards last week – Wulff said, "I don’t really feel too sorry for them." ... Wulff said, because of some injuries to special teams players, the coaches will evaluate true freshmen Tracy Clark and Bennett Bontemps this week to see if they can help there and on defense (Clark) or offense (Bontemps). If the answer is yes, the will play. ... Wulff reiterated again his team is excited to get Pac-10 play started. Asked about the goal of defending the home field (WSU is 1-0 after the Montana State win), Wulff said the team has to start building some benchmarks, reaching some goals, and defending the home field advantage is a good one to start with.
• One last thing before we head to practice. There seems to be some misinformation floating around about the health of basketball player Steven Bjornstad. The 6-foot-11, 240-pound sophomore center has been dealing with patellar tendinitis this summer and now it has turned into patellar tendinosis, which is a degenerative problem. The main cure is rest, which he's been doing, and physical therapy, which he's also been undergoing. Bjornstad is scheduled to start shooting and light exercises soon. Though the problem is not to be taken lightly, it isn't career-threatening or anything like that.
• That's all for now. We'll be back after practice. Until then ...