PULLMAN – When the final score is 28-25 and your team has the smaller number, trying to decide why that happened is a difficult task.
So coach Paul Wulff came up with a couple of different items that decided Washington State’s tough Pac-12 road loss against UCLA on Saturday night.
“They had a couple big plays in the running game, they did, and then a couple real big in the passing game. And, really, those passes were the difference in the game,” Wulff said Sunday. He was alluding to Nelson Rosario’s 41-yard, second-quarter catch that led to a 1-yard Derrick Coleman touchdown, and Rosario’s 58-yard, one-handed, fourth-quarter grab that preceded Shaquell Evans’ 7-yard game-deciding score.
But Wulff also had an alternative scenario.
“On one of those four field goals we ended up kicking, we needed to get a touchdown, and that would have been the deciding factor,” he said. “Or, in one of their four touchdowns that they ended up with, we needed to force a field goal. That would have decided the outcome as well.”
The Cougars, 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Pac-12 play, had three first-half drives that took longer than 5 minutes and covered more than 50 yards. But all three ended in Andrew Furney field goals.
Add to that a fourth-quarter possession that ate up 4 minutes, 57 seconds and 58 yards that also resulted in a Furney field goal and WSU frittered away too many scoring chances to upset UCLA (3-2, 2-1 Pac-12).
“We definitely missed some opportunities on offense,” Wulff said. “We had some opportunities for about four or five bigger plays we didn’t capitalize on.”
•Though he emphasized the scenario may never come to pass, Wulff said there is still a chance quarterback Jeff Tuel could still apply for and be granted a medical hardship waiver for the season, contrary to published reports.
Tuel, who fractured his left clavicle in the season opener against Idaho State on Sept. 3, has not received medical clearance to play in a game. He’ll be re-evaluated Wednesday.
“He’s eligible for that,” Wulff said of the hardship waiver. “Working with our compliance (department) and working through all the details of that, there are more circumstances involved and more paperwork. You’ve got to have the correct paper trail and documentation of his injury and how it is (healing).”
Instead of that alternative, though, Wulff would rather see his junior quarterback be cleared to play.
“Hopefully he’s healthy this week,” he said.
•UCLA lost its starting quarterback Saturday, when Richard Brehaut suffered a fractured left leg in the second quarter.
Kevin Prince, who began the season as the starter but was replaced by Brehaut after a three-interception half against Texas, came off the bench and led the Bruins to the win.
“He came in relaxed,” Wulff said of Prince, who was booed when he took the field. “He probably didn’t have a lot of time to think about the game, knowing he was not starting, and all of sudden he was thrown in the game. Every once in a while players come in and respond well that way.
“He threw a couple good balls when he had to.”
Prince run for 25 yards on four carries and also completed eight passes for 173 yards, an average of 21.6 yards per completion. For Brehaut’s four completions, the Bruins averaged 7 yards.
•Junior offensive tackle Dan Spitz made his first start on that side of the ball – he started five games on the defensive line in 2009 – and played the entire game.
“For his first career start, the first time playing every play on offense, he did some good things,” Wulff said.
Spitz replaced usual right tackle Wade Jacobson, who is suffering from a lower back injury. The senior had an MRI exam recently and Wulff said the next step is to have it evaluated by multiple doctors to determine the best course of treatment.
There is still a chance, Wulff said, Jacobson could play Saturday against seventh-ranked Stanford in WSU’s homecoming game.