Celebration short-lived for WSU coaches

IT WAS A topic that was debated among message-board posters and scribes. Given that Washington State played its best game of the season in a 31-14 win Saturday at Oregon State, would the Cougars be better off playing the Apple Cup next week?

Coach Paul Wulff's position about having consecutive byes before the Dec. 4 clash against Washington at Martin Stadium did not change during his Sunday teleconference, though.

"It's coming at the right time," he said. "I think they all are ready for it."

The Cougars (2-9 overall, 1-7 Pac-10) ended a 16-game conference losing streak and earned the first road win of Wulff's era. But Wulff said there was not much time for celebration among coaches afterward as three headed out directly from Corvallis to recruit and more departed later when the team returned to Pullman. He said seven coaches will be on the road until Wednesday night. The team resumes practice Thursday.

Those that stayed on the Palouse were greeted by a raucous crowd at the airport and a gathering of a few hundred fans when the bus showed up Saturday night at Bohler Gym. One reporter suggested that it was a crowd that might be expected after a team returned from playing in the Rose Bowl. Wulff agreed, but said he understood the situation given his program's struggles.

"That was a lot of fun for our students and players," he said.

IT MIGHT HAVE been the first time many of the players were able to celebrate after the plane ride.

"Guys were a lot more relaxed," Wulff said. "It was quiet. I think everyone was exhausted."

Perhaps that comes with dominating an opponent. Wulff said he was pleased with how the Cougs played in all facets — offense, defense and special teams. It was the breakthrough Wulff has been anticipating. For weeks, Wulff said the coaches and players have received compliments from their peers, but the result always still was a loss.

"I think if you watch our football team play on film, I think you see a lot of good things happening," Wulff said. "I think that is a tribute to our players. Our culture is changing. We've got kids who believe and their effort shows it."


  • Wulff said there were no significant injuries incurred against the Beavers. He said sophomore cornerback Daniel Simmons' arthrogram last week revealed a pinched nerve in his shoulder. He said Simmons has made a little, but "not much" improvement and could be available to play in the Apple Cup. Wulff also expects junior linebacker Mike Ledgerwood and sophomore wide receiver Gino Simone to return from concussions. He said true freshman Damante Horton (left knee) might be able to return, as well.

  • Most of the credit for WSU's season-high 221 rushing yards should go to Jeff Tuel, Wulff said. Tuel had a team-high 79 yards on 18 carries, including the lost yardage on sacks.

    "Our offensive line blocked their defensive front seven better than they have," Wulff said.

  • The Cougars have played five teams ranked in the Associated Press' Top 25. Three opponents — Oregon, Stanford and Oklahoma State — are ranked in the top 12. WSU, according to Sagarin's ratings, have played the 2nd toughest schedule in the nation among the BCS teams.

    "You take any team in America with that schedule for 11 consecutive weeks and they're going to lose a couple," Wulff said.

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