Wulff takes redshirt off LB; tweaks lineup

THE PLAN FOR redshirts was pretty clear during his first two seasons. A year ago Paul Wulff wanted to use two true freshmen, but ended up with five because of injuries, as well as ability. But when the Cougars (1-1) play at 12:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS College Sports) at SMU, Wulff said during his Thursday teleconference that there will be another true freshman who will play for the first time.

That would be LB Eric Oertel.

"He will be starting on four special teams," he said. "He's highly motivated, very mature young man. We knew we were getting those intangibles when we recruited him."

When Oertel signed in February out of Racine, Wis., Wulff said he could play either running back or linebacker for the Cougars. But Wulff said Oertel was converted to linebacker in August's fall camp and hasn't looked back since.

Oertel joins safety Deone Bucannon, offensive lineman John Fullington, running back Rickey Galvin, cornerback Damante Horton, linebacker C.J. Mizell, defensive back Jack Wilson and wide receiver Marquess Wilson as true freshmen who have played this season. Galvin fractured his right arm in the season opener against Oklahoma State and is expected to be granted a medical redshirt.

In starting lineup-related news, Wulff said that junior Isiah Barton likely would start ahead of sophomore Gino Simone at one wide-receiver position, while junior Wade Jacobson will start at left guard. Simone has been battling a hamstring and Barton has made some plays in the first two games. Jacobson has been battling during the practice week with competition primarily from Andrew Roxas.

Wulff said junior Mike Ledgerwood, who missed last week's 23-22 win against Montana State because of a stinger, will return and start at middle linebacker.

Senior defensive tackle Bernard Wolfgramm (shoulder) will play according to Wulff.

AMONG THE EIGHT true freshmen who have played, Bucannon might be the first to start. Senior safety Chima Nwachukwu, who suffered a neck injury during Tuesday's practice, is questionable for Saturday. But Wulff said Bucannon has put himself into position to become a starter through his talent -- physicality, speed and striking ability -- and diligent viewing of film on a nightly basis.

Wulff said Kristoff Williams, who has battled turf toe, remains a possibility to be the ninth true freshman to play this year -- or he could still redshirt if he isn't available by some point. Williams practiced for the first time this season on Monday, but Wulff said he is a little sore now. He said Williams is a game-time decision to play Saturday.


  • Wulff said the Cougars have simulated SMU's run-and-shoot offense during practices, but that it has not been easy.

    "Obviously, we're not going to be able to simulate it as well," Wulff said. "We've got to have a heck of a game to control that offense."

  • Right tackle Micah Hannam has started every game since his redshirt freshman season in 2007. His start against SMU will mark the 40th of his career.

    "A lot of that is a testament to his toughness," Wulff said. "I admire his toughness and mental strength."

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