Wulff: 'Unknown' is biggest concern about ISU

WELCOME TO WASHINGTON STATE -- home of the unknown. At least that was the feeling expressed by coach Paul Wulff during his Thursday teleconference regarding Saturday's home opener against Idaho State at Martin Stadium. That is because the Bengals feature a new coach Mike Kramer, who served as an assistant to the director of football operations under Wulff last season.

Wulff said the "unknown" is what concerns him about ISU, which finished 1-10 last year and plays in the Big Sky Conference. He said that particularly is the case on the defensive side, where the Cougars do not know how the Bengals will line up.

There do not appear to be as many schematic concerns about ISU's offense. Wulff expects the Bengals to utilize 5-foot-6, 193-pound running back Tavoy Moore, who rushed for 252 yards on 62 carries last year. The multi-purpose back also caught 34 passes for 421 yards and had more than 2,000 all-purpose yards.

Wulff said he also is familiar with quarterback Kevin Yost, who is a junior-college transfer. He said he reviewed game tape of Yost from last season.

"He's got a good arm and is a good solid athlete," Wulff said. "He can beat us with his arm. He's got enough to him to be concerned."

BUT FORMER WSU coach Jim Walden, (and as was later echoed by Mike Price), frequently used to say, "It's not the Xs and Os that matter, it's the Jimmy's and the Joe's." While Wulff does not use that line, he has a similar philosophy.

"What's in our control is how we play and how we execute," he said.

Wulff feels his team has accomplished about as much as it can on the practice field. For that reason, he said he is excited to see how his team performs against opponents.

"I like our team," Wulff said. "I like where we've come. I don't know how much more growing we can do at this point. Now it's about growing off the ballgames. Last year, even though we were losing ballgames, we were still growing."

"All I can tell you is I'm more confident than before."

WSU FANS WAITING for resolutions to some position competitions might have to be patient. While sophomore Damante Horton appears to have earned the starting job at right cornerback, junior Daniel Simmons and sophomore Nolan Washington are entrenched in a battle on the other side. Wulff said the coaching staff plans to decide a starting left cornerback after practice, but maintained that both likely will split time Saturday.

The backup quarterback role is even less clear. Wulff reiterated that he hopes to play both senior Marshall Lobbestael and sophomore Connor Halliday against the Bengals. He said the No. 2 signal-caller might not be determined "for at least a few games."

  • Wide receiver Rahmel Dockery and lineman Alex Mitchell still are waiting for clearance from the NCAA Eligibility Center.

    "I'm confident in one of the two right now," said Wulff, who declined to elaborate.

    But he later gave indications that Dockery is more likely to become eligible.

    "I know there's still some work between (Curtis High School) and our compliance department between the NCAA," Wulff said. "We're close."

    Even though Dockery will not be available Saturday, Wulff said he still come play this season.

    "Generally a skill kid is going to adapt a little more quickly," he said. I would not rule out anything yet. It's a 12-game season and we have a bye in there."

  • Wulff said junior defensive end Travis Long (right knee) will start Saturday. Two other players, sophomore defensive lineman Jordan Pu'u-Robinson (back and knee) and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jake Rodgers (shoulder) are limited in practice and might not play against ISU.

    "It's going to be a process with Jordan," said Wulff, noting that Pu'u-Robinson has lost weight while he has been sidelined. "We have to build him back up."

  • The three primary running backs -- senior Logwone Mitz, redshirt freshman Rickey Galvin and junior Carl Winston -- should expect to have more defined roles that utilize their strengths this year, Wulff said.

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