PULLMAN – The Washington State Cougars are like many Pac-10 teams following the completion of half their season schedule. Players are nursing niggling, nagging, nicks and dings up and down their bodies. That is the nature of play in the Pac-10.
While most teams in the conference have a bye week to rest and recover from minor injuries in the midst of conference play, the Cougs won’t have that luxury. They play eleven straight games before getting a bye week.
Sunday evening and again Tuesday afternoon, Coach Paul Wulff talked about how minor injuries have affected his lineups for both offense and defense.
Coach Wulff’s offensive line was going to be a work in progress going into the season. With the loss of David Gonzales (LT) for the rest of the year, the other guys who are dinged up make progress on the O-line require more work and more coaching.
One positive change up font on offense for the game with Stanford is the return of senior Micah Hannum. Hannum was forced to miss his first game last week because of time needed to recover from a concussion. He’ll either be back at his familiar role at right tackle or may move over to left tackle.
JC transfer Wade Jacobson may be moved from left guard out to left tackle.
Junior Andrew Roxas stepped it to play pretty well at left guard last week. “Right now he gives us that guy who can play either guard right now,” Wulff said. “We’re going to need him to keep improving. I thought he played better in (the Arizona) game than he has all year.”
Freshman Elliott Bosch has been making good progress and might see some play at tackle on either side.
About the only lock at any O-line position is senior Zack Williams at center.
As late as this afternoon, Wulff wasn’t certain how things would shake out as far as a starting lineup might go. “That’s what we’re going to experiment through today,” explained Coach Wulff.
Wulff elaborated on the situation saying, “We have to come up with a few different answers because one isn’t going to work. One guy gets hurt and you have to have another plan…”
Even Alex Reitnouer, who has been redshirted thus far might find himself as an “option” for Wulff. “It’s something we’re talking to him about and trying to decide if it’s something we’re going to do. There’s no question he could help us at tackle, so we have to evaluate that with him…”
With so many guys contended with nicks and dings, Coach Wulff plans to back off the amount of full-speed contact practice this week. Wulff said, “We’ll modify practice in a different way this week.”
Despite some of the injuries key players have sustained, Coach Wulff remains very positive about the progress of his team.
“We’re trying to move ourselves as a program…to be a tough, hard-nosed football team. We’re making strides but we are nowhere near where I know we can be and where we’re going to be. We’ve got to go out and hit people and keep doing it for four quarters. Until we learn to be extremely physical play in and play out, we’re not going to get to where we want to be.”
-WSU Coach Paul Wulff
There’s no question Washington State has played hard-hitting football the past three weeks. Fans leaving the stadium at the end of those contests are solidly impressed comparing where this team was two years ago and where it is today.
“We’ve made some steps. It’s very evident watching our football team. The last few weeks we’re becoming more and more physical. We’re starting to take the fight to people.”
-WSU Coach Paul Wulff
© Lew Wright, Sr. 2010 – All Rights Reserved
- You can hear Lew talk Cougar football each week on The Locker Room show hosted Toby Howell 4pm – 6pm on Sports Radio KGA 1510am