The first week of the Pac-12 is now in the books, though it seems, after listening to Larry Scott's comments in Dallas, it might be the only season of the Pac-12. Washington State's first week of 2011 is now in the books, though it seems, after reading some of the message board comments, a few fans believe it might be over before it really gets going. We look at all that, plus add in some comments from the postgame, on the link, so read on.
• Washington State: There is no denying Jeff Tuel going down with a broken clavicle was not good news for the Cougars. There is no way to spin it. It's bad luck. And the team isn't as good without him. He's a special talent. That being said, the rest of the team has a choice. Use Tuel's injury as a crutch and limp through the next four to six weeks, or use it as a kick in the ass, pick up your game a little bit and get through the stretch playing your best football. After having watched the past four weeks of camp, I'm sure the former won't happen. We'll have to wait and see if the latter can. If you remember, earlier in camp I quoted Wulff as saying the Cougars had built depth at the quarterback position, that they had five guys that were Pac-12 quarterbacks. He alluded to that depth after the game Saturday. "You know what," he said, "that's why we've been building a program, because you build depth, you build your football team and when you have enough guys, you have guys step up. The next guy comes in and he helps your football team. When you have a program that runs well, it doesn't just hang on one guy. Hopefully, that's where we are at. Somebody can step in and fill that void and go from there." ... As for the game itself, leading 40-0 at halftime, the Cougars took their foot off the gas in the second half and it showed, especially on the defensive end. The WSU offense is deep at the skill positions and Idaho State's defense is woeful enough that the Cougars could still score with ease even with the twos on the field. But the defense doesn't have that depth just yet, so when the twos and threes were in, the Bengals offense – mainly their starters – came alive and moved the ball with ease. Next week the Cougars will use their defensive starters a lot more against UNLV and its multiplelook offense. How the defense fares in that one will be a much fairer test. ... When Marshall Lobbestael started the game at quarterback, you would think it would have precluded him playing any time with special teams, a group he works with as a third stringer in practice. But after Alex Hoffman-Ellis scored on his interception return, Lobbestael answered the call for blockers on the PAT. He missed his block and the kick was stuffed. "I knew where to go," he said. "You see them run PAT every day and you kind of know what to do. Obviously, I didn't do it right, because they blocked the PAT. Coach Sturdy (Todd Sturdy, offensive coordinator) said, 'Good job being aware. But don't ever do that again.' I just gotta be smart. It was dumb. I shouldn't have done it." And the missed block is going to stay with him. As he was walking out of the postgame interview room with myself and Bud Withers, Lobbestael shook his head and said, "That's going to keep me up tonight." ... Now on to the links, followed by more quotes from the postgame interviews. ... We have our game story and a notebook, along with the scoring, the stats and four key elements of the game. Chris Anderson also has this photo package. ... Withers has this column and a notebook, leading with the Lobbestael vignette. ... Freelancer Howie Stalwick has his story and notebook in the News Tribune, among other papers. ... The Idaho State Journal has this game story. ... More on the blocked extra point from Brian Floyd at CougCenter, along with a look at the play on which Tuel was injured. ... On to the quotes ...
Paul Wulff on the crowd of 22,034: "First I would like to start by, um, for the Labor Day weekend, probably the very best crowd ever, particularly from our students. It was a great showing and I was very happy to see that. It was great, they were ready to go and excited. I haven't been here forever, but I would be surprised if there had been a better student showing on Labor Day weekend. ... That was great to see and they were a great boost for out players."
On Tuel's injury: "We'll play it as goes. The good thing is it's on his non-throwing shoulder. That's a positive. In the meantime we do have the luxury of having a fifth-year senior to go to. ... Those guys (Lobbestael and Connor Halliday) will have to step up for the team until Jeff comes back. ... It's up to the quarterbacks to execute the offense based on the looks that we see. ... (Tuel) felt ready to go, he wanted to play, he's been our leader and starter all spring and fall camp. I thought he was going to come in and play a couple series and then get him out."
Offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy on Lobbestael: "The kids knew he was going to have to come in and run the show. ... Marshall got put into a difficult situation but he's a fifth-year senior, he's got a ton of reps under his belt, I knew he would handle it with maturity. And I knew he would do a great job. ... You never know when your number is going to be called. Never quite had one like that before."
On Tuel's injury: "The message has to be, let's control what we can control. Jeff's not available but each individual has to focus and make it about us and what we can do."
On the offense against Idaho State: "I thought we executed real well. I think we came in with confidence, even though this was a really hard prep because we didn't know what they were going to do. ... The line did a really good job with all the IDs, because they were jumping around a lot. It was all about execution. ... Jeff was feeling really good and really excited and was ready to go. We were going to give him a series or two and see where it went from there. ... We talk all the time about the responsibility with the football team and making good decisions, not taking unnecessary hits. Jeff's a very competitive person and he's not going to back down to anybody."
On the next few weeks: "We've got a football team that is up-and-coming. We've got a lot of really good players, a lot of talent. ... Marshall will be the guy going into next week and he'll do a fine job."
Rickey Galvin on Tuel: "It hurts our team a lot. But like the coaches said, we have to look to the next man and continue to roll."
On the locker room: "It was pretty loud, everyone was really excited about this win."
Travis Long on Tuel: "It's a pretty big loss, but we can't dwell on it too much. We've just got to try and fix it with those two guys."
On playing the 3-3-5 most of the game: "It was kind of working, so we just stayed with it. We knew they were going to pass the ball, they weren't having much success running it, so getting that extra guy in coverage was something we needed. ... Our main goal was to just play fast and not play hesitant. I think we did that right off the bat."
On the win: "We have to continue to build off this. We have 24 hours to celebrate the win and off to the next week."
Lobbestael on Tuel's injury: "It's tough. Injuries in general are tough, especially when they happen to guys you care about a lot. Jeff's going to be on the field as soon as he can, I know that. Until then, Connor and I just have to hold the fort. He's the guy and we understand that. We're going to do whatever we have to do to pick up the slack until he comes back."
On if his preparation changes as a starter: "I don’t think I change at all. ... I feel like when I was younger and a couple guys got hurt, I'd press and press and press ... and when I struggled it was because I was overpreparing. I just need to relax and just be myself. Just be one of the 11."
Here is some video of the interviews, courtesy of WSU ...
• Around the Pac-12: With Scott in Dallas for the Oregon/LSU game, he was asked about expansion, the Big 12's demise and the next steps. He had some answers. ... ESPN.com's Ted Miller hands out helmet stickers and tells us what we learned. ... Washington: Though the Huskies held on to win 30-27 behind Chris Polk, who wasn't supposed to play, Eastern Washington was knocking at the door as time expired and may have deserved to win the game. What does that say about UW this season? ... Oregon State: We know what the 29-28 overtime loss to Sacramento State, expected to be a Big Sky also-ran, says about the Beavers. Right now, they just aren't all that good. They will improve. ... Oregon: So the Ducks come up a quacker in another big game, losing 40-27 to LSU in Dallas. It's not good for Oregon and it's certainly not good for the Pac-12. ... California: Maybe the Bears are better than everyone thought. Despite some sloppy moments, they handle Fresno State rather easily, 36-21. ... Stanford: The Cardinal may not have been playing an SEC team, but their performance against San Jose State in a 57-3 victory started the David Shaw era off on the right foot. ... Colorado: Though the Buffaloes were run over by Hawaii, 34-17 in the late game, I can't find a free story to link. ... Utah: After a Thursday night game, nothing here. ... USC: The Trojans win, but it's only 19-17 against a Minnesota team that's not a powerhouse. And the Lane Kiffin bashing begins. ... UCLA: The Bruins travel to Texas and lose to Houston, 38-34. And the Rick Neuheisel bashing begins. ... Arizona State: Like Utah, after Thursday night game, nothing here. ... Arizona: The Wildcats unleash a potent passing attack, with Juron Criner on the receiving end, and wallop Northern Arizona, 41-10.
• That's all for this morning. Wulff holds his post-mortem press conference this evening and we'll be a part of it. We'll pass along what he has to say later this evening. Until then ...