Wulff: Don't call it the spread

DWIGHT TARDY HAS been cleared medically, Gary Rogers is the "clear cut No. 1" but that doesn't necessarily mean Kevin Lopina won't see the field, President Elson Floyd is behind Andy Roof and WSU won't be running the spread. Those were just some of the nuggets coming out of Pac-10 Media Day as Paul Wulff and Brandon Gibson talk Cougar football.

Rogers is the Cougars' starting quarterback but will Washington State bring in Lopina for a series each week? Might they even bring Lopina in more than that?

Wulff said it's entirely possible.

"Gary, because of his history at Washington State and what he did through spring football is our clear cut No. 1," said Wulff. " But it doesn't mean a No. 2 player at any position won't catch up as time moves along and I think Kevin will probably do that...I think both of those guys have the ability to help our football team.

"If playing possibly both of them helps our team, then that could happen, I'm not opposed to that...If playing one of them the whole game is what's best, then we'll do that. If playing both of them throughout the game is good for us, then we'll do that too."

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THE COUGS' STARTING running back, Dwight Tardy, has successfully completed rehab on his knee ahead of schedule -- he has been cleared to begin practice when fall camp gets underway on August 5, said Wulff.

Meanwhile, the status of DT Andy Roof hinges on if the university chooses to take action following an April run in with the law, said Wulff. Wulff said he, the Athletic Department and President Floyd are all behind Roof based on the facts as opposed to much of what has been reported.

"Andy is currently on our team and we're waiting on the school's ruling...he's really only one semester away from getting his degree..(with) our President of the university, who I've sat down with, we are in support of Andy. He and I, and our Athletic Department (are behind Roof), based on the facts," said Wulff.

The Pullman police department forwarded their recommendation Roof be charged to the Whitman County Prosecutors Office back on May 8 but Whitman County has yet to take any action one way or the other.

THE COUGS WERE picked tenth by the Pac-10 media in their annual poll, something that didn't seem to bother Wulff.

"Really, the difference between the No. 1 team and the tenth placed team is not that much. What we have to do is continue to develop the players who are in our program and get them to play at their highest level. (If so), then we're going to be a very successful football team this year.

"We've got work to do but I do think we have some tools...I think we have the opportunity to really surprise some people this year," said Wulff. "...I think we've got good talent, we've got enough talent. Do we have the most in the Pac-10? No. But the most talented teams don't always win the game."

WAZZU's NEW no-huddle, high tempo offense is not a spread offense, said Wulff.

Rather, it's an offense that gives the Cougars the ability to put playmakers all over the field, and adds versatility to the mix by putting guys like Gibson and others at multiple spots in order to make plays.

"We're not what would be considered the spread offense," said Wulff. "You'll see us under center a number of times too. We'll probably be in the shotgun maybe 50-60 percent of the time, maybe some games more, some games less. We'll be pretty multiple -- you may see us with two backs in the backfield, you may see us with no backs and five wide receivers. We'll be extremely multiple in what we do...but pretty simple in how we run the plays."

The new offense will not take a "bombs away" approach and ignore the running attack, said Wulff -- just the opposite, actually.

"We want to be balanced, we want to run the football. This isn't a deal where we pass first, run second. Honestly, we will try to run the ball first," said Wulff. "Now we may do it in multiple different ways (with receivers, running backs, quarterbacks) and we want to stretch the defense as much as we possibly can...and then obviously we want to be able to throw the ball off of what we do running the ball."

Maybe instead of the spread, people will start referring to it as "the stretch" when talking about the Washington State offense.

WULFF SAID the biggest challenge this season for the Cougs will be found between the ears -- a culture change where it's about overcoming whatever adversity they're confronted with as a team.

"Xs and Os will not be our challenge," said Wulff. "I think our challenge is getting the players to understand the competitive nature we need them to play at in every practice, in every week, and in every game. And when negative things happen in a ballgame, how do you respond and can you lead your teammate to do better on that particular day."

  • Gibson said there are some similarities in the offense, like in terms of protections for example, but there are marked differences to be found. "The offense finds way to get the best players the ball, whether it be throwing it, running it, screens or bubble screens -- there are a variety of things in this offense that help it (along). It's very different from what I ran previously with coach (Timm) Rosenbach and coach (Mike) Levenseller. It allows players to move easily and it's very interesting. I've liked learning it," said Gibson.

  • Of the well documented incidents away the field this offseason, Wulff said with a coaching change it's common to "drum up" more attention to them. He also said "a lot" of the incidents happened before he arrived and that he's taken action on those, as well as on the ones that have occurred since he was named head coach. "I think the players have gotten the message, and they've done a phenomenal job this summer...we have addressed the issues that have occurred in the past and we're moving forward," said Wulff.

  • On a personal level, Wulff said he and his staff have been going about 100 miles an hour since they arrived in December. That doesn't leave a lot of time for family. "It may truly be a year until we're completely settled in what we're doing as a family. But as coaches, our staff has done a great job in hitting the ground running. We've worked really, really hard. I don't know if we've worked harder than everyone else, but I know we've worked hard to get moving forward as fast as we possibly could," said Wulff.

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