Wulff wants Cougs to bring the anger to L.A.

THERE'S NO DENYING that Paul Wulff is mad. His voice takes on a degree of intensity when he's asked if his team is, in fact, angry enough to go down to the Rose Bowl and do some damage. "I'm mad enough," he said during his Thursday teleconference. "They need to be mad enough. I think they can be; I don't question this team's work ethic, I don't question that they want to.

"I think that they're mad enough to possibly go down there and win a ballgame."

Wulff said that his team's learning curve will be a key factor Saturday when it faces UCLA (2-2 overall; 0-1 Pac-10) at 12:30 p.m. (TV: FSN)

"What you see in the first, second, third game isn't what you're going to see all year," he said. "We've got to go down there and fight our tails off."

HOWEVER, WITH BOTH schools at the bottom of the conference in scoring, he doesn't anticipate a high-scoring match either way.

"I don't know what I think the score could be," he said, "but a lot of it is dependent on turnovers, how the execution is on both sides of the ball.

"I don't know that I expect a high-scoring ballgame; either low-scoring or whatever you'd call it between high and low."

While UCLA knocked off No. 7 Texas last weekend, Wulff said he has to focus on what his own team needs to do.

"They're going to get their yards because they've gotten yards," he said of the Bruins. "They run the ball so much that they do that against everybody. The bottom line is that we can't miss tackles."

Against USC, Wulff and staff counted 32 missed tackles after reviewing game film.

WULFF CALLED FACING a team with more speed than the Trojans and a big secondary "challenging," but added that he feels the Cougars, and their special teams, especially, can hold their own.

"It's clearly a huge improvement," he said. "It has a lot to do with coach (Dave) Ungerer and his schemes, and the young talent."

He added that playing on special teams is giving young players a chance to get in the game rather than playing "play after play on offense or defense and expecting them to play at that level."

He is, however, a little less confident about the running game.

"They've all played adequately," he said of the corps. "We need someone to make some bigger plays out of the backfield ... There is no home-run threat or consistent big play. That's our challenge. We've got to get more production out of those running backs."

WULFF SAID HE does not anticipate any changes to the starting lineup, but that "you'll see guys play," which could mean more turns and rotations for some as WSU tries to find guys with the hot hands.

"On the bright side, we're getting a lot of players playing time," he said, noting that the defense has 14 freshmen making the trip. "They'll get an opportunity to play, get a chance to prove themselves."

He mentioned Damante Horton as someone taking advantage of his opportunities.

"(He) keeps showing up," he said of the cornerback from Oakland, Calif. "I've been really pleased with his progress as a freshman."

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Asked about UCLA's win over Texas, Wulff said that he felt that the Bruins played well, but that the Longhorns didn't put forth a great game.

    "The word out of Texas all week is how they missed 18 tackles and that they're a young football team," he said. "It sounds like the word you get out of our camp, but they're probably not as young as us."

  • Wulff said the Cougs doing some full contact work on Thursday wasn't a first.

    "It's all I ever did at Eastern," he said. "But I've struggled here to do it on Thursdays because there weren't enough bodies to get through a practice in that regard. We're just getting back to things I believe in doing now."

  • With tight-ends coach Rich Rasmussen already down in California recruiting, Wulff said five Cougars coaches will be on the road by Friday night to watch games and connect with key recruits in the L.A. area.

  • Senior safety Chima Nwachukwu was selected Thursday as one of 121 semifinalists for the 2010 William V. Campbell Trophy (formerly the Draddy Trophy), college football's premier scholar-athlete award.

    "I think he represents that award and is deserving of it," Wulff said. "I have a lot of respect for what he's done and how he's gone about his business as a student athlete."

  • Sophomore special-teams player Kyle McCartney (concussion) is not expected to play.

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