As far as Paul Wulff was concerned, the final score was irrelevant.
But for the record, the Crimson, made up of mostly Washington State starters and key backups, routed the Gray 38-3 before 4,076 at Albi Stadium on Saturday.
No, that last number was, if not more important to WSU’s head football coach, at least as crucial as the Cougars ended their spring workouts.
“This was great,” Wulff said. “Over 4,000 people were here. We get this kind of turnout, we need to do this every year.”
Wulff knew the format, pitting the starters against the backups, would lead to a lopsided final score, especially considering WSU had 22 players not suit up do to a variety of injuries.
“A lot of our twos were on the Crimson,” Wulff said and the lack of depth showed.
The starters scored the first five times they had the ball, including a 70-yard run by Logwone Mitz, a 29-yard pass from Jeff Tuel to 6-foot-5, 247-pound tight end Andrei Lintz, who made a diving catch in the end zone, and a 32-yard reverse by Henry Eaddy, who was playing high school football in Florida five months ago.
“It was good to come out and do some basic fundamental things,” Wulff said. “We blocked well and we executed.”
And the defense?
“We were outmanned because we had a lot of injured players, but all the players tackled well and it wasn’t sloppy at all,” he said.
The Crimson offense gained 249 yards on 37 plays in the running-clock scrimmage, with quarterback Jeff Tuel connecting on 12 of 17 passes for 128 yards despite taking just three snaps after halftime.
Tuel, named afterward as Wulff’s spring MVP, targeted seven receivers but will remember most vividly the connection with Lintz in the left corner of the south end zone.
“That was the highlight in my eyes for the day for sure,” Tuel said.
Mitz, for his part, will remember the 70-yard score, on which he was nearly untouched.
“The head started to tilt back when I got to the 8-yard line,” joked Mitz, who finished with 106 yards on 13 carries. “I really wasn’t expecting the first run to go that far, and I hadn’t done any full-on sprints prior to that.
“I’m not going to say the legs weren’t ready because clearly they were, but I didn’t think they were ready personally.”
As much as the Crimson offense dominated, the defense was just as overpowering. The Gray had trouble containing tackle Anthony Laurenzi up front – he had two sacks and one tackle for loss – and didn’t pick up a first down until a pass interference call just before halftime.
“Nobody was pleased with last season,” Laurenzi said. “We did not like it all.”
The Gray quarterbacks combined to connect on just 10 of 22 passes for 44 yards as there was pressure up front and tight coverage downfield.
All that despite the defense operating without at least five injured players who have a chance to start in the fall.
“If there’s a unit that will drastically change from last year, it will be the defense,” Wulff said.
Between now and then, Wulff said, there is still work to do.
“They’ve got to make a decision, and they’ll make the right one,” he said of the Cougars. “If they can dedicate themselves between now and next August, and can take another step of improvement like we did from winter to now, this football team is going to surprise a lot of teams.”
But that’s for tomorrow. For now, Laurenzi summed up the players’ feelings as he was walking off the field.
“This was a great way to end the spring,” he said.
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