Breaking down the Cougars on film

SPOKANE – Watching Paul Wulff break down plays at the Spokane Cougar Luncheon earlier this week offered insights. Most everyone in attendance had seen the game. Or so they thought. After listening to Wulff and watching him break down film, they had a true understanding of what they had witnessed this past Saturday.

The play at Oregon of both Cougars lines, and linebackers, was as good as he has seen since coming to WSU, Wulff said. He noted that his staff had focused in practices on getting players to trust their training and instincts so they could do more "flying around."

The result was that they executed well.

Wulff is careful in these weekly film sessions to protect his players. He also views the time as a chance to impart true understanding of the game to those watching.

Here's some of his analysis from the game ...

Defensive pursuit and patience with few exceptions was outstanding. The defense did a great job of "stringing" the running backs to the sideline. For example, in the Ducks' first possession of the game when they tried to convert on fourth-and-three, the Cougar d-line's penetration forced LaMichael James to reverse course, and then Deone Bucannon, C.J. Mizell and others pursued him to the sideline. The Ducks didn't make the first down.

On offense, the line opened some good holes for Carl Winston, Rickey Galvin and Logwone Mitz. The run by Winston toward the end of the first quarter was an example.

Winston got a nice kick out block by Andrei Lintz and was led by Dan Spitz and Co. for about a 13 yard gain. Had the big boys held a block or two a bit longer, he adds several more yards to the run.

The tight end played an important part in both the running game and on a couple of completed passes in the flat.

Protection for Marshall Lobbestael was very good. Three sacks were allowed, with two of them because Lobbestael held the ball too long.

The game plan was ball control, to keep the Duck offense off the field, and to run with a high motor on defense to keep up with the ultra quick Ducks. The offense controlled the ball for 22 minutes of the first half. The defense pressured the Duck backfield most of the day. The Cougars outgained one of the most prolific offenses in college football.

Wulff said Lobbestael wasn't as sharp as he had hoped. Still, he ran the offense very well up to the Oregon 25-yard line but then he seemed to try to do too much -- throwing into traffic or overthrowing the target. The delay of game penalties were also an issue. The Cougs missed some key blocks and tackles on special teams as well.

Things to tighten up
There were two special team disappointments both caused by correctable mistakes.

The blocked punt was allowed when Oregon found a gap the left side of WSU's punt formation and a Duck came free that the second line protectors couldn't pick up. Wulff demonstrated that No. 28's stance was too wide to allow him to move and effectively pick up the rusher(A) on his right who breaks to the second level. The rusher(B) to his left was unblocked. Lintz's responsibility in the second line is to pick up the closest threat(A) and he did -- but B was free to block the kick. If A is blocked at the line, Lintz then can get to B, and then there's no blocked kick. He also said Dan Wagner could change his angle of kick to move away from this pressure.

The kick return for TD was a combination of the lightning quick DeAnthony Thomas and defenders taking a wrong turn. As the returner began to advance, two of our better kick cover guys missed. No. 4 got his head buried into his opponents chest and therefore couldn't see the runner on his right. If he pushes over a couple of steps, he is there to stop Thomas. The other cover man, No. 83, tries to spin, which is human nature but it is not what he's coached to do and for good reason – as he spun 180 degrees, he couldn't see the runner. The runner is downed if he stays firm in the hole.

There was a safety failure on a play when both WSU safeties got caught looking at Darren Thomas too long, didn't react quickly enough to play the pass and let two Ducks get behind them for a TD.

And the problems inside the 25-yard line? A couple of dropped passes, a couple low throws, a couple of overthrows plus a legitimate holding penalty and two ill advised passes to the gold jerseys all contributed to a lack of offensive punch deep in UO territory.

A swing pass to Galvin near the goal line was overthrown. Film shows one defender to beat to the end zone.

A run to the goal line is called back for a hold by the right tackle, and the Cougs have to settle for a field goal.

An interesting stat: Of 105 players on the team:

5 have been in the program 5 years

11 -4yrs

28- 3yrs

28- 2yrs

33- 1yr

Eighty of the above players are on scholarship. Wulff said if you look at effective programs year in and year out, to build a truly lasting program you need at least 15-20 members of the 5 year club and about 25 for each class after. Seasoned veterans help the consistency in a program. Successful Cougar teams of the past had this kind of mix.

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