Before his speech, however, the Cougs had come out with plenty of passion, and the energy was at a high level throughout before they kicked it up an extra level in the final set of drills.
"We came out and practiced well," starting cornerback Nolan Washington said. "The biggest focus is making these practices count, and we do have a bye week but we have to take advantage of that. We have to come out here to get better, regroup, and make sure it translates to Saturdays."
THERE WERE SEVERAL highlights for the Cougs on their first day back to the practice field. Perhaps the biggest news was the return of QB Jeff Tuel.
Tuel was was in a jersey and shorts while the rest of the team was in shoulder pads and helmets. But Tuel participated in all of the quarterback drills except for live action and looked like he hasn't missed a beat.
Tuel was firing the ball off with plenty of steam, and from the way he was hitting his WRs in stride, you would never have known he suffered a broken left clavicle a little over two weeks ago. Tuel had his left shoulder iced up to close practice, but he was all smiles following his first day back.
AS TO THE ACTION, there were several Cougs getting some rest and plenty of back-ups moved up with the 1s to start off the bye week.
On defense, WIL LB Sekope Kaufusi was out with what looked to be a thumb injury. A player the coaches are high on, walk-on Cyrus Coen, stepped in with the 1s at Kaufusi's spot and was shooting the gap with plenty of speed.
Meanwhile on the defensive line, DE Lenard Williams lined up with the 1s in place of injured starting DE Adam Coerper, and took advantage of his action with the 1s. Williams was able to put some solid pressure on the line, and had a pass deflection of QB Marshall Lobbestael towards the end of practice. Coerper is expected to be out a few weeks with a sprained MCL.
ON OFFENSE starting RB Rickey Galvin was in street clothes because of a concussion. With Galvin out, RBs Carl Winston and Logwone Mitz shared the workload and got some solid help from the offensive line.
Speaking of the offensive line, with starting center Andrew Roxas still recovering from an ankle sprain, (he will not practice this week, Wulff said), there was another change with the 1s on Tuesday. JC transfer Matt Goetz jumped in with the starters at center, moving over from his usual guard position.
Goetz looked sharp and was getting his shotgun snaps to Lobbestael's chest with consistency and did a fine job in his pass protection.
There were a couple plays where Goetz got beat by DT Kalafitoni Pole which led to some pressure on Lobbestael, but there were also plays where Goetz wouldn't let anyone by him.
There were also a few plays where starting MLB C.J. Mizell would shoot the gap and try and get to the backfield, only to find Goetz who would stop him at the line and prevent him from getting to a ballcarrier or QB.
LOBBESTAEl's DAY STARTED with a 15-yard TD pass early on to WR Isiah Barton. Lobbestael had a solid day's work and was hitting all of his WRs consistently. Back-up QB Connor Halliday also had a nice practice, with a TD pass of his own to WR Kristoff Williams.
The Halliday-Williams connection was set up two plays earlier by the pair when Halliday fired off an absolute gem in traffic for a thirty yard gain as Williams was able to get inside position on CB Brandon Golden.
As great as Halliday's toss was, it couldn't match the play of the day which came from walk-on RG Chas Sampson, who spent his afternoon running with the 2s.
On the play QB David Gilbertson fired off a short pass to WR Isiah Myers that was tipped by a Cougar defender and landed right in the bread basket of the 6-4, 303 pound lineman. Sampson went rumbling and stumbling to the house for a 60-yard TD. The play set off an explosion of celebration from the offense, and big smiles and laughter rang across Rogers field.
"We're very mad about it and disappointed," Washington said. "You have those games but now we have to flush it. Now we have to learn from it and learn that football is a game of four quarters and not just three. We have to practice that way and I think it was a big learning lesson for us because we're a young team and we were on our high horses (when in front) and they kind of knocked us off."
Washington also said the next 12 days can't go by soon enough with the Pac-12 opener at Colorado looming.
"Oh man, we're very excited for next weekend," Washington said. "We have a sour taste in our mouths and now we have to take it out on our next opponent. We have to use these practices to get better and that's what we're going to do."
RUNNING WITH THE 1s
QB: Marshall Lobbestael X receiver: Marquess Wilson
Flanker: Isiah Barton
Z receiver: Jared Karstetter
TE Andrei Lintz
LT: David Gonzales
LG: John Fullington
C: Matt Goetz
RG: B.J. Guerra
RT: Wade Jacobson
RB: Carl Winston (Logwone Mitz also getting reps)
LE: Lenard Williams
LT: Toni Pole
RT: Anthony Laurenzi
RE: Travis Long
SAM: Cyrus Coen
MIKE: C.J. Mizell
WILL: Alex Hoffman-Ellis
CB: Nolan Washington
SS: Deone Bucannon
FS: Tyree Toomer (Note: Anthony Carpenter also seeing action running with the 1s)
CB: Damante Horton