WSU has few healthy bodies in backfield

WASHINGTON STATE HAS had loads of trouble running the ball this season. That problem does not figure to get any better with both James Montgomery (concussion, thigh bruise) and Carl Winston (hamstring) likely out for Saturday's 1 p.m. game against California (TV: FSN-NW) at Martin Stadium. Here's what Paul Wulff had to say during his Thursday teleconference..

That leaves senior Marcus Richmond, who is expected to start, junior Logwone Mitz and redshirt freshman Arthur Burns at running back. The latter switched from linebacker to running back last month. Chantz Staden (rib), who has been out for an extended time, looks to be doubtful for a return Saturday.

Another running back, 5-foot-7, 170-pound walk-on redshirt freshman Leon Brooks, also is out after suffering a concussion during Wednesday's practice. Senior wide receiver Daniel Blackledge is another player out with a concussion.

"We've had more ‘concussions' than I've seen in my life," said Wulff, adding that offensive-line coach Steve Morton, who has coached in college for 36 years, told him he never has seen as many concussions. "You can't have it the way we're having it right now."

Wulff said the coaches will look into the issue during the offseason, including examining advances made with mouthpieces.

Redshirt freshman Sekope Kaufusi (shoulder) is likely out as well. Wulff said Kaufusi does not appear to have full range of motion in his shoulder and he does not want it to slip out of place again. He said if that occurs, Kaufusi probably will need surgery.

"We're going to be cautious..." Wulff said.

He said junior Mike Ledgerwood (stinger) probably will fill Kaufusi's role as a backup at middle and outside linebacker.

ONE AREA WHERE the health report is better is the secondary. Safeties Anthony Carpenter (concussion) and Chima Nwachukwu (hamstring) are expected back along with cornerback Aire Justin (concussion). Wulff said redshirt freshman Nolan Washington's slight thumb fracture did not adversely affect his play in last week's 42-0 loss at Arizona State. Wulff said Washington was the team's defensive player of the game.

"Nolan had his best game," he said. "He covered well and was more physical in tackling."

As previously noted on CF.C, the Cougars have practiced in full pads since Tuesday despite their injuries. Wulff decided to make the transition after WSU (1-8 overall, 0-6 Pac-10) did not have full-contact practices on Tuesdays the last two weeks.

"It was good and we needed it," Wulff said. "We didn't respond as well obviously in that game against Arizona State."

In addition to being physical, creating turnovers and not allowing a handful or more big plays on defense, Wulff said his team needs to be more productive on offense to start the game. The Cougars have not scored during the first quarter in their last three games.

That was not a problem last year when quarterback Jeff Tuel completed 28 of 42 passes for a career-high 354 yards against the Golden Bears. Including a completion by running back Dwight Tardy in WSU's 49-17 loss, the Cougars had 385 passing yards.

Wulff said it won't be as easy this year. He said California's secondary has benefited from a pass rush that has generated 22 sacks, which is tied for 18th among Football Bowl Subdivision teams. But Wulff said the secondary has improved, as well.

"They're quite a bit better," he said. "They seem to be more consistent with their coverage."

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • Wulff said junior offensive lineman Andrew Roxas likely will not play until the Apple Cup because of an eye injury. He declined to specific how the injury occurred.

    "I don't want to go into the details with that," Wulff said. "I can't really comment on that."

  • After making dramatic changes along the offensive line at ASU, Wulff said the regular lineup will start against the Golden Bears. That means John Fullington and Micah Hannam at tackle, B.J. Guerra and Wade Jacobson at guard and Zack Williams at center.


  • Cougfan Top Stories