Injuries continue to be focal point for WSU

WASHINGTON STATE COACH Paul Wulff discussed his team's two most significant injuries of the season, their performance in Saturday's loss against California, his thoughts on an early signing day for football and much more during his Sunday teleconference.

The Cougars have suffered a number of substantial injuries this season, with the situation becoming particularly trying over the last few weeks.

But coach Paul Wulff was asked during his Sunday teleconference which two loses have been the most detrimental to his football team this year.

Given that the Cougars (1-9 overall, 0-7 Pac-10) rank 117th among 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams with an average of 76.1 rushing yards per game, true freshman Rickey Galvin was an obvious response. Galvin suffered a broken arm on his first college carry in the Sept. 4 season opener at Oklahoma State.

"I think Rickey Galvin right off the bat," Wulff said. "His speed and play-making ability at running back is something we continue to look for."

The other was junior linebacker Louis Bland, whom Wulff referred to as the team's best player earlier in the season. Bland is redshirting this season while recovering from surgery on his left knee.

"Louis Bland would give us some maturity, plus he's a really good football player," Wulff said.

He did not stop there, listing David Gonzales (broken forearm), Dan Spitz (torn right-shoulder labrum) and Tyson Pencer (pneumonia) as significant reasons why the depth at offensive tackle is depleted. He also mentioned a pair of wide receivers, Jeffrey Solomon (left knee) and Kristoff Williams (turf toe), and safety LeAndre Daniels (neck) as other significant injuries.

Wulff said the Cougars only had four healthy wide receivers — walk-on true freshman Bennett Bontemps, junior Isiah Barton, sophomore Gino Simone and true freshman Marquess Wilson — as the only healthy players at that position after junior Jared Karstetter sprained his ankle during Monday's practice. He said that forced Wilson, who caught four passes for 50 yards and dropped more than one ball in Saturday's 20-13 loss against California, to take every snap during practice throughout the week.

"If there was a game where there was kind of a meltdown, it definitely was this game," said Wulff, referring to Wilson. "I think it had more to do with our week's preparation. It showed up with Marquess, to be quite honest."

He said a pair of seniors, running back James Montgomery and wide receiver Daniel Blackledge, both of whom suffered concussions in recent weeks, will be ready for Saturday's 1 p.m. game at Oregon State (TV: FSN-NW).

Wulff said redshirt freshman linebacker Sekope Kaufusi (shoulder) and sophomore running back Carl Winston (hamstring) remain questionable. He said the status of sophomore cornerback Daniel Simmons (shoulder) and Simone are unknown. Wulff said Simmons would undergo an arthrogram Monday to determine with he has a strain or tear in his rotator cuff.

AS FAR AS Saturday's game is concerned, Wulff thought the defense played well with the exception of "a couple of big plays that were the difference in the game." On special teams, the Cougars rank second among FBS teams in kickoff-return coverage. They allow just 16.44 yards per return. He said both the kickoff- and punt-coverage units were strong again against the Golden Bears.

The same does not apply to the offense. Wulff said California's cornerbacks and defensive-line play ranked along with Arizona State as the best his team has faced this year. He said quarterback Jeff Tuel, who completed 9 of 25 passes for a season-low 92 yards, struggled but also faced constant pressure. Wulff said that contributed to Tuel having a team-high 18 carries.

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • Brandon Rankin was a junior college All-American in 2008 at Butte College, where he had 24 sacks as a defensive end. But after the 6-foot-5 Rankin bulked up to 281 pounds, he was moved to defensive tackle. Sophomore Anthony Laurenzi is earning more playing time at that position as the season progresses, though.

    "Anthony Laurenzi was quite frankly the player of the game," Wulff said. He seems to be coming on there a bit. He knocked the guard back into the backfield a couple of times."

    He said he is targeting some junior-college defensive tackles, and if they sign with WSU, Rankin could return to his former spot.

  • Early signing for basketball and other sports begins Wednesday, and Wulff said he would like to see one for football. He said some schools, specifically Texas and USC, have been against it because they want the ability to evaluate players as late as January and feel an early signing period would not give them adequate time to do it.

    "I think it's a cop-out," Wulff said. "They have the same amount of time as everyone else."

    He said an early signing period would allow the coaching staff to focus on the athletes they are recruiting to fill the final spots. It also would curb some of the last-minute negative recruiting and what Wulff called "chaos until the end."

    There are 19 known verbal commitments in Wulff's 2011 class.


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