Wulff hopeful that Tuel is ready this week

WASHINGTON STATE FACES the consensus top quarterback in college football when it hosts Stanford in its homecoming game Saturday. Coach Paul Wulff said Sunday he might be able to counter the Cardinal's Andrew Luck with his own No. 1 signal-caller in Saturday's homecoming tilt.

Junior quarterback Jeff Tuel will be just more than six weeks removed from a broken left clavicle suffered Sept. 3 at Idaho State. Wulff said Tuel will have an X-ray on Wednesday and they will "evaluate it at that point."

Wulff said he believes that Tuel, who played as a true freshman in 2009, is eligible for a redshirt if he does not play the rest of the season, but it is not quite that simple.

"There's more circumstances involved," he said. "You have to have the correct paperwork and documentation. Those all are possibilities."

Wulff said that redshirting Tuel is not a prospect "right now."

"It's all based on how he recovers and when he recovers," he said. "Hopefully he's healthy this week."

Tuel's return could buoy an offense that settled for four field goals during Saturday's 28-25 loss at UCLA. WSU (3-2 overall, 1-1 Pac-12) was stopped inside the Bruins' 10-yard line three times in the first half alone. That resulted in the Cougars taking a 9-7 lead into halftime instead of a potential double-digit advantage.

"We definitely missed some opportunities on offense," Wulff said. "We had opportunities for four or five big plays."

UCLA's secondary has been decimated by injuries and it used maximum coverage with only three down linemen to compensate. Wulff said that created fewer opportunities to make big plays, but it did not excuse errant passes or dropped balls.

"We had opportunities, we just didn't execute the final play for touchdowns," he said.

WSU also had an equal distribution of 80 total running and passing plays. Given that, and UCLA's unbalanced approached, Wulff said the Cougars' needed more production from their running backs. WSU averaged a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry and redshirt freshman Rickey Galvin's 17-yard run was a team high.

Citing sophomore wide receiver Marquess Wilson's game-winning touchdown Oct. 1 at Colorado, Wulff said he still is confident his team can make a big play when needed.

"We're growing -- we just didn't make one big play on offense and that hurt us," he said.

Those were plays that the Bruins made in the fourth quarter on wide receiver Nelson Rosario's 58-yard reception and running back Johnathan Franklin's 32-yard run.

"They had a couple of big plays in the running game and passing game," Wulff said. "Really, those were the difference in the game.

"Give them credit. They stayed in the game and made big plays on their last two drives."

Outside of those two plays, UCLA (3-3, 2-1) produced just 281 yards of total offense. Franklin and Derrick Coleman combined to rush for 401 yards last year against WSU.

"I thought that we played pretty good defense," Wulff said. "We tackled really well."

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Junior Dan Spitz made his first start at right tackle in place of senior Wade Jacobson (back). Similar to sophomore center Matt Goetz, who made his first start at Colorado, Wulff said he needs to improve, but overall was happy with Spitz's performance.

    Wulff said there is an "outside shot" that Jacobson will play Saturday. He said the team might consult with two or three doctors as it searches for a remedy. "It's a lower back issue that they're working on," Wulff said. "That's all I can say at this point."

  • Junior Alex Gauper replaced sophomore Andrew Furney on kickoffs about midway through the game. Wulff did not to commit to one handling those duties Saturday.

    "Once again, our coverage was outstanding," he said. "So much is based on our lack of hang time on kickoffs or the distance. Getting some consistency out of our actual kickoffs is important."

  • Wulff said he had no problem with the action of sophomore linebacker C.J. Mizell on the game's final play because the score was close.

    "The ball snapped and he went at the center straight ahead," he said. "He attacked the center to see if we could get a fumble. He was just trying to get the ball out."

  • Senior wide receiver Isiah Barton (sprained ankle) and sophomore linebacker Sekope Kaufusi (shoulder) sustained injuries against UCLA, but Wulff said beside those the Cougs fared well.

    Sophomore punt returner Leon Brooks, who suffered a sprained shoulder at Colorado, is expected to return to practice this week on a limited basis, Wulff said. Henry Eaddy took his place on Saturday.

  • Wulff said backup UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince might have benefited from coming off the bench. He entered the game in the first half after starter Richard Brehaut suffered a broken left leg. Prince completed 8 of 13 passes for 173 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. "He came in relaxed," Wulff said. "He probably didn't have a lot of time to think about the game. He threw a couple of good balls when he had to."

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