October 12, 2009 in Sports

Cougars’ bye week timely

By The Spokesman-Review

PULLMAN – A day later Paul Wulff’s thoughts hadn’t changed.

The defense had played pretty well in the 27-14 homecoming loss to Arizona State on Saturday, Washington State University’s football coach said.

The special teams, other than one faux pas on a punt, had been solid as well.

But there was no way to get around it. The ASU defense had its way with the Cougars’ line.

“Our protections broke down, we really struggled,” Wulff said Sunday night. “(We) got manhandled up front and it just blew everything up in regard to protection in our passing game, for any kind of consistency in our running game.

“When we did have a little bit of protection, our quarterbacks just didn’t have the confidence to keep their eyes downfield when things would come open.”

With a week off halfway through the schedule, the Cougars (1-5 overall, 0-3 Pac-10) have a chance to shore up the offensive line. That’s if players get healthy.

Wulff said he expects starting guard Zack Williams to be ready to go against Cal on Oct. 24. Two other line starters, tackle/guard Steven Ayers and guard B.J. Guerra, “have a shot to be back,” Wulff said.

“If we could get two of those guys back, or all three,” he added, “it would be just huge.”

Wulff also feels defensive lineman Bernard Wolfgramm (hip) and linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis (staph infection) have a shot to be back as well.

One who won’t return is redshirt freshman defensive back Daniel Simmons, who broke his leg against ASU.

“He’s been playing as our best corner,” Wulff said.

While the bye will allow some players time to get healthy, it also will allow the WSU staff to hit the road recruiting.

Washington State will practice Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 6, giving the players time to get to class and have their afternoons free.

It also allows the seven road-bound coaches to be in West Coast high schools first thing Thursday morning, trying to build on a recruiting class that already has 14 commitments.

“This (group) has a chance to be one of the best that’s been here,” Wulff said.

After the two early practices, WSU’s players will get the rest of the week off before beginning preparations for Cal next week.

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