Wulff then turned his attention to the here and now.
"I think our football team's confident enough that we have enough football players on this team to be a dang good football team," Wulff said.
"We do have the luxury of having a fifth-year senior in Marshall Lobbestael. He came in and as you saw he played very well."
That he did. Lobbesatel had his way with the Bengals of the Big Sky. He completed 14-of-19 passes for 230 yards and two TDs before giving way to second-year freshman Connor Halliday for much of the second half.
"… Marshall played well today and I feel great about that. I have all the confidence in the world in Marshall," echoed senior receiver Jared Karstetter.
Offensive Coordinator Toddy Sturdy also was firmly on the Lobbestael Express. "First off, you always tell your number two and number three quarterback you never know when it's going to be your number," Sturdy said. "Jeff got the virus and was really sick so Marshall got put into a difficult situation but he's a fifth-year senior, he's got a ton of reps under his belt and I knew he would handle it with maturity and I knew he would go a great job."
As for Lobbestael himself, he sounded every bit the team leader. "He's (Tuel) going to do everything he can to get healthy and until then Connor and I just have to hold down the fort. He's the guy, we understand that, but at the same time we want to win and we're going to compete. We're going to do whatever we have to do to pick up the slack until he comes back."
Halliday made his collegiate debut mid-way through the third quarter and also had his moments. At the 6:40 mark, he fired a gem to receiver Kristoff Williams for a 20-yard TD. Williams also was making his collegiate debut and that was his first catch as a Cougar. Halliday finished the day completing 6 of 13 passes for 67 yards.
The Cougars' success through the air – and on the ground – added up to 590 yards. It was testament to the power of WSU's senior-dominated offensive line. They surrendered nary as a sack and helped their running backs average 8 yards per carry – exactly double the stated goal for the season.
In addition to the starting hosses – John Fullington, B.J. Guerra, Wade Jacobson, Andrew Roxas and David Gonzales -- Wulff made sure Dan Spitz and Taylor Meighen took their turns in the offensive trenches. Meighen is a JC transfer center and Spitz is a former defensive end. Spitz saw time at both right and left tackle, while Meighen spelled Roxas. Both played well. It was Spitz's first collegiate game on the OL.
THE COUGARS SHOWED OFF considerable depth at running back, with four players rushing for 40 yards or more. Freshman Marcus Mason led the way with 88 hashes on six carries, including crowd pleasing 65-yard trek to paydirt. Rickey Galvin, back in action after going down in the season opener last season, gained 64 yards on seven carries and scored two TDs. Senior Logwone, wearing jersey number 6 in honor of Cory Mackay, ran for 58 yards on eight carries and scored once, while Carl Winston toted eight times for 42 yards.
"I was really excited on my first carry to just get up off the ground and not be injured," Galvin quipped. "That was really big for me." A year ago, he broke his arm against Oklahoma State on his very first carry.
WSU DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Chris Ball called for pressure from the opening whistle and blitzing linebackers were a constant. The Cougs finished with six sacks – linebacker C.J. Mizell leading the way with a pair.
Weakside linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis had the play of the day for the defense, intercepting a Kevin Yost pass and taking it back 67 yards for a TD.
"It was a situation where I was basically reading the tight end and he broke straight to the flat and I cut under him and pretty much as soon as I caught the ball I knew I was going to the house," Hoffman-Ellis said.
The senior said he was pleased with the overall work of the defense, which ranked near last in the nation in most statistical measures last season. "I think guys did a good job of getting lined up and getting to their assignments," Hoffman-Ellis said. "First up it starts off with the d-line, big ups to them. They did a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage."
The Cougars went with a three down linemen much of the game. D-tackle Brandon Rankin has spent most of fall camp running with the 2s, but saw plenty of action early on Saturday. Rankin had a sack, and was consistently fighting his way up the middle and getting into the Bengal backfield.
INJURY REPORT: True freshman linebacker Darryl Monroe tore an Achiles and is out of the season. So is junior cornerback Travion Smith who suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. Smith saw his action with the 2s at CB throughout camp, but was expected to be a major contributor in special teams. Another corner, freshman Spencer Waseem went down with a knee injury but Wulff said that it appears to be a sprain.
TUEL CONGRATULATES HALLIDAY AFTER THE YOUNGSTER FIRED HIS FIRST COLLEGIATE TD PASS, A 20-YARD GEM TO KRISTOFF WILLIAMS.