Washington State is off the practice field for a Thursday and there was less hitting than I expected. But there is other news, so read on.
• The Cougars were a little late getting out to start today because the team meeting went a bit long. Baseball coach Donnie Marbut spoke to the group before practice and emphasized the need to stick together through tough times. And, as Marbut will tell you, there were some tough times in the baseball program before it broke through two years ago. … Football coach Paul Wulff held his usual Thursday afternoon conference call and talked about subjects as varied as preparing for a UCLA team that might be without its starting quarterback – saying you prepare for concepts – to recruiting – coordinator Rich Rasmussen is already in Los Angeles. … In between he talked about UCLA’s running game and how the Cougars have to stay disciplined and not miss tackles. … He mentioned the improvement on the special teams and said as many as eight freshmen would start on kickoff coverage – that was my count as well when they ran through it at practice- and other units. … Special team standout Kyle McCartney won’t play due to a concussion, but he’s getting closer, running today for the first time I’ve seen. … Wulff said there would be no changes in the starting lineup, but did say there would be some rotating of players, specifically mentioning freshman cornerback Damante Horton. … Chima Nwachukwu will start, he said, but Deone Bucannon will play a lot. … As for the running backs, he says no one had such an outstanding week of practice they separated themselves from the others, but the Cougars need more production out of the backfield. … Then it got interesting. Wulff was asked if his team was mad enough to pull an upset Saturday and he turned the question back on himself, saying he’s mad enough so they should be too. He went on to say he doesn’t question the work ethic, but it’s time to play a good football game. … The shoulder pads today is something he did all the time at Eastern, Wulff said, but he hasn’t felt there was the depth here to keep pushing through Thursday. Until now. … Finally, he thought UCLA’s upset of Texas was a combination of the Bruins playing really well and Texas playing poorly – and turning the ball over. … We have one story to pass on, which is our feature on Jared Karstetter and if he’s making strides toward playing in the NFL in a couple years.
• That’s all for tonight. We’re headed to LA early in the morning, so we will post our usual morning blog when we can. It might be a little later than usual. Until then …