Simmons issues a guarantee

PULLMAN – Monday night practices this year have included rest and precautionary sit-downs for starters. That wasn't the case yesterday. CF.C also turned the mic on head man Paul Wulff and CB Daniel Simmons. The defensive back, after watching the film of the USC loss, described the D's performance as "sickening." He said he and his teammates are going to fix it. And then he issued a guarantee.

IN HIS post game news conference Saturday, Wulff said he wanted the loss to USC to sink in with his players for 48 hours and then to get ready for UCLA. It's been over 48 hours, so are the Cougar players still dwelling on the blowout loss at home?

"Definitely not," Simmons said. "The important thing is that we have to move on, and we're going to have a great week of preparation this week. And it's going to be a huge improvement with a much better played game this week -- that's a guarantee.

"What we did on Saturday does not exhibit what we represent, and how we are as players in what we want to accomplish. That's something that's going to be in the past, and something you'll never see again out of this Washington State defense."

FOR THE FIRST time in a long while, significant injuries haven't been an Achilles heel for the WSU football team. This year, the Cougs are simply like most teams, with the customary amount of bumps, bruises and a handful of players out. CB Aire Justin, who has missed a great deal of time this season with a lingering hamstring injury, returned to the fold Monday night and got in some work running with the first team defense out on Rogers Field along with cornerbacks Simmons, Nolan Washington, Anthony Carpenter, and Damante Horton.

Also on defense, defensive tackles Bernard Wolfgramm and Brandon Rankin were full participants with the 1's, seeing the field throughout the night. DT Justin Clayton, who has gotten a lot of turns this year, mostly in Wolfgramm's place, was also in the mix Monday night.

WR Jeffrey Solomon and RG B.J. Guerra suffered bruised knees on Saturday. Although neither was used much on Monday night, Wulff said both should be fine as the week moves forward. Indeed, both looked just fine during warm-up drills, their injuries didn't look to affect them.

Wulff's quote this weekend, that it was a "victory for us" that Wazzu came out of a game against a physical team like USC without significant injury, has drawn criticism from some quarters. He explained his thinking further to CF.C…

"Here's the deal, knowing where we were a few years ago, the fact that we can play three weeks in a row and stay relatively healthy and then play USC and come out here and our guys look fresh -- I think that's a testament to our growth in the weight room. Our players are becoming more mentally tough, and you know, that's huge," said Wulff.

FILM STUDY OF the Cougs' 50-16 setback to Southern Cal revealed the same thing everyone saw while watching it live – some horrendous open field tackling by Washington State. It must be particularly frustrating for all involved because the Cougar D has worked on this aspect throughout the entire spring, and fall camp, and each week this season. But progress certainly wasn't showed in Week Four.

Wazzu got back to it on Monday. Since time immemorial, football coaches from Lombardi to Bryant to Walsh have described good tackling as, more than anything else, about desire. Not technique, not drills -- desire. Wulff holds the same view. But is there anything more, anything else the Cougs can do practice-wise, to fix it?

"I mean, you can do some basic fundamentals without pads," Wulff said. "But you know we can tackle, and tackle, and tackle, which we do, but it comes back to wanting to really get after somebody and getting them down.

"We can sit here and work every technique but bottom line is until we really want to hit somebody and knock them backwards, it's just wasting our time. You can spend hours on tackling. It's more of a want-to, and a toughness issue right now for us."

There was certainly evidence of that on Saturday against USC.

"It's a humbling experience to see something like that and see where you're at -- it's sickening, truthfully," said Simmons. "But I think we will go back to how we were earlier in training camp, where we did a great job of tackling and high intensity.

"Somehow that got lost in the mix, our intensity and our focus on execution slipped away, but we'll get that fixed ASAP."

AT SAFETY ON Saturday, senior Chima Nwachukwu was sidelined for most of the game in favor of Deone Bucannon. The true freshman tied a team high with eight tackles, all solo, and recorded his first collegiate interception. After practice Monday, Wulff said Chima is still his No. 1 there, but Bucannon will continue to see a good amount of time in practice and on Saturdays.

"Chima's still going to play, and they'll both play," Wulff said. "Deone did some really good things, he also made some really big mistakes. In fairness to him, a young guy like that's going to make some (mistakes). We just have to keep growing him and he's going to learn from his mistakes."


Cougfan Top Stories