Wulff: Lobbestael has put everybody at ease

COACHES WANT TO avoid complacency. They often tend to downplay results. That is exactly what Washington State coach Paul Wulff has done in the aftermath of his team winning its first two games since 2005. But there is no way to minimize the performance of senior quarterback Marshall Lobbestael, which Wulff acknowledged during his Tuesday teleconferences.

"Marshall ... by his performance, has put everybody at ease," he said. "That's where it starts."

Lobbestael replaced Jeff Tuel, who suffered a broken left clavicle in the Sept. 3 opener against Idaho State. The fifth year senior ranks third among Football Bowl Subdivision signal-callers in passing efficiency. Lobbestael has completed 38 of 51 passes for 591 yards and seven touchdowns.

From 2008-10, Lobbestael completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw more interceptions (12) than touchdowns (seven).

It is a consistency the Cougars (2-0) will need to maintain as they play at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (TV: The Mountain) at San Diego State (2-0). WSU has won only one road game -- 31-14 on Nov. 13, 2010, at Oregon State -- during the last two seasons. The Cougars' last nonconference road win was 55-21 on Sept. 17, 2005, at Nevada.

Wulff said he is aware of the "win-now" expectations after his first three seasons produced a 5-32 record.

"I'm not a dummy (but) I don't get too caught up in it," he said, referring to his detractors.

Wulff said the difference in results -- the Cougars outscored ISU and UNLV 123-28 -- relates to experience. This is the third year in the program for players from his first full recruiting class in 2009.

"You're just seeing bigger, stronger, faster athletes," he said. "You're seeing a higher level of execution."

EXPERIENCE ALSO COULD describe the Aztecs, who returned eight offensive starters off last season's team that finished with a 9-4 record after beating Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl. SDSU returns senior quarterback Ryan Lindley, who passed for 3,830 yards and 28 touchdowns last year.

"Lindley is a bona-fide NFL prospect," Wulff said.

Sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman, who rushed for 1,532 yards and 17 touchdowns last year, has garnered comparisons to SDSU legend Marshall Faulk.

"(Hillman) is an elusive player and makes people miss," said Wulff, adding that tackling will be an emphasis during practice this week.

He also noted that Lindley has talent at receiver, including sophomore Colin Lockett, who has 195 yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions this season.

For those reasons, Wulff gives little credence to the Aztecs' struggles against the former Pac-10. SDSU lost 19 consecutive games against Pac-10 schools since it defeated California 33-9 on Sept. 2, 1995. WSU won the only other meeting between the schools, 45-17, on Sept. 8, 2007, in Seattle.

"At the end of the day, the ball is kicked off and both teams have got to play," Wulff said. "I don't think anything in their history has any bearing on game day."

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Redshirt freshman running back Rickey Galvin leads the Cougars with 144 yards and three touchdowns on only 12 carries. Wulff said whether Galvin sees more carries Saturday will be determined by "how the game plays out."

  • Sophomore Nolan Washington reclaimed his starting position at cornerback opposite of junior Daniel Simmons. Sophomore Damante Horton started against ISU, but Wulff said he was among several players who contracted the flu before the UNLV game and lost some weight because of it. Wulff said he expects all three to see extensive playing time in San Diego.

    "They dictate if they're going to start," said Wulff, referring to players throughout the roster. "We're always evaluating the kids."

  • Wulff anticipates that senior center Andrew Roxas (ankle) will start Saturday.

  • The status of wide receiver Rahmel Dockery has not changed, according to Wulff. Dockery still has not been cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center.

  • Jim Sterk, the athletic director who hired Wulff, now holds that position at SDSU. Sterk was at WSU from 2000-09.

    "Jim's a wonderful man and he did a lot for Washington State," Wulff said. "His support was very strong for me. He understood the task we had to go through after awhile. I couldn't ask for anything more than that."


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