LOS ANGELES – They say the best turnovers in Los Angeles can be found at Eilat Bakery on Pico.
Paul Wulff knows better.
The best in L.A. are on the Coliseum’s turf.
“We need to be able to create turnovers on defense,” Washington State’s football coach said this week. “Any great team has that ability.”
The Cougars (1-2, 0-1 Pac-10) aren’t great yet, but their opponent tonight in the Coliseum, the USC Trojans, certainly have been the past seven seasons, all conference championship years.
But there is a common denominator whenever the Trojans lose, as they did last week in Seattle, 16-13 to Washington, nearly a three-touchdown underdog.
“Whenever we’ve been beaten,” USC coach Pete Carroll said, “that’s how the scenario’s been built, we turn the football over a lot. When we don’t turn the ball over, we win.”
Three turnovers inside the UW 30 were the foundation of last week’s upset. Wulff hopes his team, a 45-point underdog, can continue a two-week trend of coming up with fumbles and interceptions.
“Pete Carroll has stated the same thing I’ve been stating since I’ve been here,” said Wulff, in his second season at WSU. “We led the nation in (turning the ball over) last year. You lose games. When we turn the ball over this year, we lose games, clearly.
“You can talk about X’s and O’s, you can talk about coaching, you can talk about talent, when you turn that darn ball over, you’re going to probably lose games.”
WSU came up with four interceptions last week – two returned for touchdowns – and that powered a 30-27 overtime win over Southern Methodist. The Cougars recovered four fumbles against Hawaii the week before, but turned it over seven times – three interceptions and four fumbles – and lost 38-20.
“Even mighty USC proved that last week,” Wulff said of the correlation between turnovers and defeats.
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