There is a hackneyed saying in the theater world that goes something like, bad dress rehearsal, good play. Maybe that was what Washington State was going for Tuesday. Read on for that and some Connor Halliday news.
• Before we get into the practice report, Connor Halliday was released from Pullman Regional Hospital late this afternoon and went home to continue recuperating. He won't make the trip to Seattle this weekend. ... There was no yelling, no wrath-of-god speeches, no histrionics in the WSU team meeting after practice Tuesday, but there was a long, serious discussion about the previous hour-and-a-half. It wasn't the Cougars best practice of the season, that's for sure. Afterward, quarterback Marshall Lobbestael tried to explain it as part of the transition to practicing without school beforehand – WSU has the week off for Thanksgiving – or quite possibly it was due to the flux in the offense, starting with his position and spreading outward to the offensive line and wide receiver spot. I have my theory: After having a great week – a great week – of practice before the Cal game and playing like crud, the Cougars are going with the opposite approach. I jest, of course, but there is no jesting about the struggles on a decimated offensive line. With Dan Spitz and David Gonzales still out, the group struggled in team work, protecting the quarterback and opening holes for the running game. The good news is starter Dan Spitz should be back tomorrow, allowing John Fullington to return to his regular guard spot. And David Gonzales is shooting for a Thursday return, which would mean the group would be back to normal. ... There is the Isiah Barton injury as well, forcing a shuffling of the receivers. Kristoff Williams and Bobby Ratliff got a lot of work inside and Paul Wulff said in his press conference he expects a lot from them this week. Marquess Wilson, who did not practice at all last week, took it relatively easy today, avoiding contact in team sessions. ... Wulff had two media sessions today (and a radio show tonight), with the questions ranging from the Huskies to his future. On the Pac-12 call, when asked the best back his team has faced in Pac-12 play, Wulff pointed to Chris Polk, who is this week's opponent. Later, in his local call, he expanded on that, saying Polk makes you miss but can also run over you. He gets yards even in the play isn't blocked well. Has quickness and power and the ability to catch a pass out of the backfield. There is no one, Wulff said, in the league that does a better job from the position. ... Wulff was asked a timing issue in the Utah game (on the last Utes drive of regulation) and he answered it was handled correctly. ... There was a question asked about recruiting committed kids, framed around Bishop Sankey's recruitment last year and the late switch to Washington. Wulff said he's old-fashioned about this and think it's wrong, delving into a history lesson of how it used to back before the turn of the century in the Pac-10. But he also said it's not something the coaches talk about and he hasn't ever talked with Steve Sarkisian about Sankey. ... After answer the obligatory question about whether Matt Barkley should be a Heisman finalist, Wulff updated Connor Halliday's status (earlier than we passed along above). ... Locally, Wulff talked about what the loss of Barton means to offense (it's big as he's made a lot of key plays this season) and how some guys have to step up to fill in. ... I asked about CenturyLink and if it might change to atmosphere of the Apple Cup and Wulff said he wasn't sure, but he knew it would be loud. ... Wulff mentioned he talked with the Pac-12 and the conference told him the replay official didn't see a reason to overturn the call in the waning seconds on the Wilson reception. He may have made the reception in the end zone, but his momentum carried him out and he landed where the ball was spotted. ... Last season the Cougars were worried about Jake Locker's ability to run to such a degree they didn't focus enough on Polk. I asked Wulff if Keith Price brought the same threat. He said Locker was so big and fast and not many college quarterbacks approach that combination. Price is a threat to run, sure, but Locker was a beast. A diplomatic way of saying no, I guess. ... Someone asked if the Apple Cup was different than a regular game. Wulff said yes. The game itself is the same on the field, Xs and Os and all that stuff, but the pageantry, the history, all the peripheral things that surround it, make it some much more intense than a regular game. ... We passed along Bud Withers' Paul Wulff column this morning,so this evening we pass along this commentary from Seattle radio guys.
• Here's video of Wulff's press conference, courtesy of the WSU athletic department ...
• That's it for tonight. We'll be back, as usual, in the morning. Until later ...