Though the game Saturday is in CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, it is a Washington State home game, of course. That circumstance – a home game 280 miles away – led to a funny occurrence at the beginning of Thursday's practice. Read on.
• Each Thursday, while the Cougars work on special teams, the offensive linemen gather round the padded goal posts and do a drill that works on their feet and hands. The players pop the pads while first sliding one way, then the next, all the while encircling the padded post. An observant reader probably noticed I wrote padded twice. There's a reason for that. The pads were gone Thursday, taken down and packed up for Seattle, where they can encircle the goal post with their crimson colors. But the offensive line still wanted to do the drill. So coach Steve Morton came up with a fix. He had reserves Sam Shirley and Moritz Christ hug the post and their teammates popped their backs as they did the drill. Now I want to emphasis that the pops aren't all that violent, so the guys weren't getting hurt. In fact Christ seemed to be laughing. Talk about being team players. ... If you are wondering what measures coaches will go to get their players to concentrate, go no further. To make the offense focus Thursday, WSU piped crowd noise into Martin Stadium – loudly. I don’t know if the noise had anything to do with it, but there were a couple of circus catches by the receivers and only a rare drop. ... Paul Wulff held his usual Thursday press conference this afternoon and covered subjects as varied as Jeff Tuel's week – he did agree with an assessment I had that Tuel looked smoother and more comfortable at practice this week – to the health of Louis Bland – he's progressing well. ... In between, Wulff touched on a bunch of subjects, including the return to health of defensive linemen Lenard Williams, who will start, and Adam Coerper, who Wulff expects to play. ... He said Leon Brooks is healthy enough to return punts this week, though he also could see Gino Simone and Henry Eaddy – if he's cleared – back there as well. ... He expects Sekope Kaufusi to play this week. ... In response to a question from Cougfan, Wulff went through a litany of scout team players that he expects to help next year. He mentioned nearly every redshirt freshman and JC transfer. ... That dovetailed into a discussion of the tight ends (he mentioned Max Hersey and Mansel Simmons) and the problem WSU has dealt with this season with only Andrei Lintz available for much of the season. Aaron Dunn is back now and Wulff expects big things from him when he gets stronger and bigger. ... Wulff spoke about the home-field advantage in Seattle as opposed to Pullman and he mentioned that there's not that big an edge when playing Oregon or Oregon State, no matter the game is. A big part of that is the Northwest schools are used to the weather, something the schools from the southern climes don't like dealing with. ... He said he never heard a word about conference games going to Seattle from Jim Sterk (he forgot I think that Sterk tried to move the Apple Cup there on a yearly basis). ... The Cougars will treat the game like a road one, with the itinerary the same, although WSU buses to Seattle and flies everywhere else. The home aspect of the game should come into play when the crowd starts getting loud, Wulff said. He also hopes that the Cougar fans buy enough tickets next year to freeze out the usual throng that likes to travel with Oregon. ... And that's about it, though he did mention how dangerous OSU is on offense with Markus Wheaton, James Rodgers and a good group of receivers. ... Some of Wulff's comments made it into our story on Oregon State and its injury problems.
• That's it for tonight. We'll be back, like always, in the morning. Until then ...