FROM PULLMAN — We have a few notes for you this afternoon, along with some comments from quarterback Jeff Tuel as the Cougars prepare for Stanford. Read on.
There are a few minor changes to WSU's depth chart, none of them all that surprising. Tuel is now listed as the starting quarterback. Gabe Marks is listed as an outside receiver again, the starter at the Z position. And Gino Simone is now listed as the starter at the Y receiver position. Anthony Carpenter, who started at cornerback two weeks ago against California, is now officially listed as the starter ahead of Damante Horton.
Also, it was announced earlier today that WSU's game at Utah on Nov. 3 will be a noon kickoff (!!!) on the Pac-12 Networks.
Here's some of what Tuel had to say today. The senior quarterback discussed last week's infamous Tuesday practice, and answered a few questions about Stanford, too.
(On Stanford's front seven) “Most physical without a doubt. Big, strong guys. Stanford has a reputation of rushing the quarterback and having those big strong guys up there. I think it’ll be one of the best fronts we’ll see this year.”
(On last week being a mental reset) “I’d hope so. I think that’d be a good thing and I think most everybody took advantage of this week and kind of reset and get refreshed and come in really excited to work. I’m looking forward to this week and I know a lot of the other guys on the team is.”
(On facing Stanford) “Stanford’s a real physical team, do a good job of stopping the run. (We) need to be able to establish the run if we’re going to throw it. … just continue to do our thing and play our game, really.”
(How did receivers respond to being called out?) “Great. Really good. I think Tuesday I think we might have won one drill, offensively, then Wednesday (the) offense won every single drill there was against the defense. Isiah Myers, Kristoff Williams had really good days after pretty bad Tuesdays. They’d be the first to admit it, a lot of the guys including the quarterbacks didn’t come out as mentally ready as we should have but like I said we responded and it was a really good practice Wednesday and good to see those guys lit a fire under themselves and took it upon themselves to have a great practice Wednesday.”
(More on the receivers) “I know those guys can play. It’s never a question in my mind. It’s just whether they’re going to put their minds to it. It’s easy to kind of fall into that trap of a bye week and kind of come out, take it easy, it’s too easy to fall into that trap and I think that’s what happened a little bit but I don’t really put too much into it because they came out the next day ready to go and were themselves again.”
(On Stanford's defense) “They blitz a fair amount but I think the most challenging thing is going to be stopping their pass rush and me getting the ball out quick and efficiently and finding the right receivers really, because with these guys I won’t be able to hold the ball as long, I think. I just need to be efficient with my reads and be able to get the ball out as quick and efficiently as possible.”
(How do teams respond when you can't run the ball?) “Something called cover eight where they only rush three and drop eight.”
(Has every team done that?) “Pretty much seen that from everybody. Basically it turns into a bit of skelly and everybody just drops as many guys as they can on us and when we’ve had success this year it’s when we’ve been able to run the ball against that. That’s what we did against Eastern, was come out running the ball, calling some more runs than we had and we had to bring those guys forward a little bit, which opened up the pass for us. It’s real important. We’ve got to have a running game. In this league it’s tough to throw it every single down and be as successful as you want because guys will start to figure you out.”
(Was Tuesday the hardest practice you've had?) “It’s not that the practice itself was tough, it was just, like I said, it’s easy to fall into that trap. I’ve seen it every single year I’ve been at this university. You have a bye week, guys come in like, 'oh, we’ve got a bye week, let’s relax and not come into it too hard and not give it our all,’ and it was just really bad Tuesday. As a team and an offensive unit it was really bad. Guys didn’t come out to play prepared, no energy, so like you saw and read I’m sure, we did plenty of rolling and catching balls. That part was probably the toughest practice I’ve been through, rolling in the sand and whatnot, but as a practice, it’s just all mental. It’s all from the neck up.”
(More on Tuesday) “I think guys saw Tuesday how bad it really can get. It just sucks, honestly. It doesn’t feel good to have a practice like that and go and watch the film and stuff and you go and look at it Wednesday and you’re like, 'we look good.' It’s really encouraging. We go out on Saturday, had another good practice offensively and guys brought the energy because they know with this team it’s from the neck up, honestly. It’s just learning how to prepare. Coach (Mike) Leach has said turn the switch on and off. We’ve got to stop doing that and it’s just got to be on, and you can’t expect to come into practice and just say, 'OK, I’m going to have a great practice today,' or something like that. It’s got to be a 24/7 thing where you’ve just got to live this and truly come out to practice excited like it’s a game day.”
(Are you more comfortable checking at the line of scrimmage) “Without a doubt I’ve gotten way more comfortable with it. BYU I didn’t hardly check out of anything, because it’s my first game with coach Leach. We learn each other too. Throughout this season I’ve learned he’s giving me the keys to the car. 'You’ve got to check out of things and get us into a better play. Just because I call it doesn’t mean you should run it. If you see something that you like better that’s going to work for us, then check out of it.' That’s what I started to do. I did it against Oregon State and I did it a bunch at Cal and it worked out for us.”
(Do you miss running at all?) “At times, yeah. I’ve got to do a better job, myself, taking advantage of that. Me and coach Leach have talked about that as well. He always says he’d rather see a real athlete run the ball, or a professional runner or something. He doesn’t want to see me running. Then again if it’s there on film he says run it. I’ve got to just take advantage of it and when it’s there, take it.”
(On taking over at QB) “I want to hold onto that position. I want to lead this team to some victories and like I said last week, a bowl game still isn’t out of reach, believe it or not. People from the outside looking in can say it is, but it’s not with us. With the position I’m in it’s my job to take us there and I’m going to keep believing until it’s out of reach.”
(On the transition this season) “It’s been a pretty dramatic transition. It’s much different than what we were before. I think you’ve seen just by the number of guys that aren’t here anymore that started here with this season, there’s a high demand for production and if you’re not going to produce then you’re in the wrong place, basically. So it has been a dramatic change and it’s for the better. You’ve got to demand the most out of your players and I think these coaches have done a good job doing that.”