PULLMAN – Washington State football players addressed the media for the first time since the Stanford game on Monday and the consensus was that the players feel refreshed after a badly needed bye week.
Because the Cougars depth isn’t yet to the level of teams that consistently win, they have had to rely on young players and haven’t had the luxury of substituting often despite an offensive system that – like many of WSU’s up-tempo opponents – goes through a lot of snaps each game.
“It’s good to recover, regroup and get ready for the next week coming up ahead against Arizona,” offensive tackle Cole Madison said. “It’s been good to recover from the ball game and get the team back on track.”
Time off can be detrimental to a team that’s trying to maintain its focus, and in 2012 coach Mike Leach was unhappy with the way his team handled some time off during his inaugural season.
But he says the work his team put in during a lighter week this season is an example of how the program has improved over the last two years.
“That first year it was a battle to get guys to work hard. These guys we have right now work hard. We don’t always get the results we want but we work hard toward it,” Leach said. “We’ve got a lot of freshmen, sophomores and they learn it on the move but they’re trying to do the right thing and it’s meaningful to them and they’re more competitive people.”
The team spent more time in the cold tub than on the practice field last week, and much of each practice was devoted to working with young players who don’t see the field on Saturdays.
Running back Jamal Morrow said he feels faster after getting a few days off his feet.
“I felt like my legs felt better so I’ll be able to produce more on the field and get ready to go on this run we’re about to make,” Morrow said.
Pelluer to start
The Cougars released a depth chart for week nine on Monday and the biggest change to the WSU starting lineups is the addition of redshirt freshman Peyton Pelluer at Mike linebacker in place of Darryl Monroe.
Monroe, a redshirt junior, has started every game of his playing career at WSU but has been somewhat limited in practice recently.
Pelluer, whose father, Scott played linebacker for WSU and in the NFL, has played in all seven games this season and has 17 tackles, including seven in WSU’s last game against Stanford.
While there were no other significant changes to the depth chart, defensive lineman Destiny Vaeao indicated that starting nose tackle Kalafitoni Pole “is out” after not practicing this past week. If Pole doesn’t play it’s likely that Vaeao will slide inside from his end position.
Sam Flor has also seen time with the “ones” at center, but Leach indicated that he expects Riley Sorenson to start on Saturday.
Another day game
The Pac-12 announced its kickoff times for the weekend of Nov. 1 and Washington State will play its earliest game of the season at 1:30 p.m. against USC in Martin Stadium.
It will be the second consecutive afternoon game for the Cougars, who play Arizona this Saturday at 3 p.m. after opening the season with seven consecutive night games.
When asked if the earlier start times changed anything about the team’s preparation Leach said, “Not really, it puts the periods a little closer together. I wasn’t aware we played at 3 (but) 3 is probably the perfect time to play, really.”
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