Paul Wulff's meeting with Moos

WASHINGTON STATE FOOTBALL coach Paul Wulff characterized his lunchtime meeting in athletic director Bill Moos' office as normal. He said during his Sunday teleconference that the meeting would have occurred even if his team had won a Pac-10 championship. Just about everyone else, however, seemed to be waiting anxiously.

Wulff said postseason meetings with Moos will occur with coaches to assess the season and the program's direction, as well. But the football team is the most high-profile program on most campuses and there was rampant media and fan speculation in the media about Wulff's job security, particularly if the Cougars lost the Apple Cup. WSU finished the season with a 2-10 record and Wulff now has a 5-32 record in three years at his alma mater.

"I know out there there's a lot of stuff being said," he said. "It seems like it's been made a bigger deal than reality."

That does not mean Wulff was certain he was going to be retained, though.

"There was a little sigh of relief because nothing in life is for sure," he said. "If you're a coach, you want to keep growing your program and moving it forward."

Wulff said he received a similar message to the one detailed in a news release Sunday afternoon from Moos.

"President Floyd has said from the beginning that the decision on Paul Wulff's future is mine," Moos said. "I appreciate his trust and know that his goal, like mine, is to see Cougar football be successful and compete for championships. That being said, it is my feeling at this particular time that the best course of action to move in that direction is to continue with the current leadership."

Wulff said Moos did not state a wins requirement in 2011 for him to maintain his position, but the two discussed where the program is at and how it can continue to progress.

THE JOB UNCERTAINTY has not seemed to affect Wulff's recruiting, at least on the surface. While he cannot discuss specifics per NCAA rules, Wulff said three junior-college prospects committed during the weekend. He said the signing date for mid-year transfers is Dec. 15 and Wulff expects two of the three weekend commits to enroll in January. For more, click here and here.

"They're seeing our team and the youth and they see a bright future," he said.

Wulff generally reviews the previous game on Sunday with media, but given the news that he will be retained, much of that discussion was about the program. He said that the Cougars, who had 77 players on scholarship after fall camp this season and even less the previous two years, should have between 80-85 in 2011. Wulff characterized being significantly under scholarship as "daunting."

He believes the added depth will show with significant improvement on both the offensive and defensive lines. Those arguably were the weakest positions for WSU this season. The Cougars surrendered 51 sacks this year, which ranked 119th among 120 Football Bowl Subdivision programs.

But Wulff said the offensive line will be buoyed by the return of three players, David Gonzales, Tyson Pencer and Dan Spitz, who missed substantial playing time because of injuries. Spitz did not play a down this year after he torn his right-shoulder labrum following a suspension.

Wulff said the Cougars are pursuing junior-college help across the line — at least one commit during the weekend plays there — and they might redshirt one or two of those players. That is because projected starters Gonzales, B.J. Guerra and Wade Jacobson will be seniors in addition to reserve Andrew Roxas. Wulff made a similar move in '08 when he redshirted junior-college lineman Zack Williams.

In addition to returning experience, Wulff said the line should experience improvement now that they have had a full year of tutelage under veteran assistant Steve Morton, who replaced Harold Etheridge after the '09 season.

WSU's defensive line also struggled this season. The Cougars produced a modest 23 sacks, which ranked 67th among FBS teams, and allowed 220.3 rushing yards per game. Only five programs were worse in the latter statistic. Wulff mentioned returning players such as Justin Clayton, Steven Hoffart, Anthony Laurenzi and Jordan Pu'u Robinson as reasons he is optimistic about improving. He also said the return of Toni Pole, who redshirted because of a calf injury, and the addition of recruits will bring greater competition and depth along the line.

REPORTS THAT DEFENSIVE end Travis Long will undergo shoulder surgery are inaccurate, Wulff said. Long missed a fourth-down tackle on quarterback Jake Locker in the first quarter that would have turned the ball over to WSU. Instead, the Huskies later took a 7-0 lead on a 2-yard run by Chris Polk.

"I think they're going to huddle for the next week and come up with a game plan," said Wulff, adding that he was not certain whether that would entail an operation on Long's shoulder.

Wulff said he is not aware of any other players who will require offseason surgery.

Several players coming off operations will be returning in the coming months, though. Wulff cited running back Rickey Galvin and Gonzales as players he thinks could be back lifting in the weight room this month. He said others, such as linebacker Louis Bland (left knee), cornerback Damante Horton (left knee), Pencer (various ailments) and wide receiver Kristoff Williams (turf toe) should return to the weight room early next year, while tight end Aaron Dunn (wrist) is expected there in March.

WULFF SAID THE Cougars have 22 or 23 commitments for 2011 and several assistants left Pullman today to recruit. He said he plans to fly out Monday to California and recruit before the staff returns home later this week for the annual team banquet Saturday.

Unlike last year when Etheridge was fired and running backs coach Steve Broussard left to take a similar position at Arizona State, Wulff said he does not anticipate any changes to his staff, but said he will not know for sure until he meets with them individually.

He said he particularly was impressed with special-teams coach Dave Ungerer, who also directs the running backs. WSU's kickoff coverage team allowed just 17 yards per return, which was best among FBS programs. Wulff said Ungerer's work was even more impressive considering the Cougars used several first- and second-year players on those units. He feels it could be even better next season with the addition of freshmen who redshirted this year, such as Tracy Clark, Tyrone Duckett, Brandon Golden and Matt Simmons, playing on those units.

"I think Dave Ungerer did an outstanding job with special teams," Wulff said.

In addition to securing help on both lines, Wulff said he needs to find more playmakers on offense. While Marquess Wilson, who had a team-high 1,006 yards and six touchdowns on 55 receptions, displayed that ability at wide receiver, Wulff said his team needs more explosiveness at that position. But he said running game is a greater concern. He said Galvin might have that ability, but Wulff also suggested he might look for junior-college help at that position.

"We've got to continue to get it at running back," he said. "There's going to be a great opportunity for any incoming running back coming in."

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • WSU missed numerous tackles against Washington and Wulff felt some of that was a byproduct of two consecutive bye weeks.

  • Wulff praised the development of quarterback Jeff Tuel, who completed 219 of 366 passes for 2,780 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions during his sophomore season.

    "We've got an experienced quarterback we feel could be one of the better one's in the conference and the country," he said.

  • No decision on the future of linebackers Jamal Atofau and Andre Barrington has been made, Wulff said. Both were suspended in October after police found 38 marijuana plants in an apartment they shared with two other people.


  • Cougfan Top Stories