Wulff: Injury list numbers unacceptable

PULLMAN -- Paul Wulff wasn't dancing around the subject. It's become clear in a few short months the new head man at Washington State will speak his mind and Sunday, while acknowledging injuries are part of the game, he also questioned some players' toughness following the second of two practices. Wulff was emotional when talking about what the Cougs need to do in order take the next step.

After a review of yesterday's scrimmage tape, one thing stood out most of all in Paul Wulff's mind.

"We have an unacceptable amount of people on the injured list...In all my years of coaching, I have never seen anything like this...It's affecting our growth as a team," said Wulff.

While quick to add that some adjustments need to be made to the Cougars' training and conditioning programs, so too did he make one other point crystal clear.

"We also need to adjust our toughness level," said Wulff.

There were a host of Cougar players who did not participate in at least one of the sessions on the day due to injuries.

IN A SHORT session that Wulff called a "mental practice," the Cougar players worked on getting the proper personnel into the proper position based on calls from the sidelines. The Cougars' new offense is a complex, multi formation attack, and there are only 13 days until the season opener against Oklahoma State.

Most every aspect of the game was worked on, including special teams.

In college football in recent years, there has been a growing reluctance by starters to play special teams, and WSU has been no exception. But the number of starters and projected starters lining up on special teams on Sunday was marked. Wulff indicated the starters might want to get used to it.

"We will need to be very well conditioned. I also think it is an indicator of the state of our program...our depth is very thin, so we've had to have more starters on special teams than we would like."

The situation might also be a temporary one. In addition to the always present possibility some of the youth will seize opportunities present, Wulff and his staff, in what will be their first full recruiting year at Washington State, have created a big buzz. There are currently six known verbal commitments for the Cougs and every one of them is rated three stars by Scout.com.

"In our recruiting, we've been able to emphasize that players will get the chance play early because of our limited depth," said Wulff.

THE OFFENSIVE LINE played without left tackle Vaughn Lesuma on Sunday, who was hurt during yesterday's scrimmage. He could be seen gingerly moving on the sidelines on Sunday -- cautiously, but better than earlier in the day.

Line coach Harold Etheridge was lining up in the face of the hosses and drilling them on blocking assignments. While not as loud volume-wise as some of the other defensive coaches, he makes sure the o-linemen know exactly what he is thinking.

When this correspondent caught up with him after the session for a few questions, his reply was a good one; "Make sure they are smart ones."

Etheridge has employed a number of different combinations halfway through camp, some to take a look at certain guys, some because of injuries. The unit, said Etheridge, has not yet gelled. And other than the Cougs' center, no one is guaranteed a starting spot on Aug. 30.

"We have a long ways to go. Kenny Alfred -- he's our bell cow and the best player we have on the line. He's the only player that is "in" right now...The rest of the positions, they are still up for competition," said Etheridge.

Etheridge said the Cougs don't have a lot of size but they do have some athleticism to work with. But time is a factor.

"We have a long ways to go and a short time to get there," said Etheridge.

THE ONGOING KICKING battle continued Sunday afternoon, with Patrick Rooney splitting the uprights on both attempts from 40 yards out. Nico Grasu's first attempt hit the upright and bounced back, his second was good. Wade Penner was unable to convert either attempt, though at least one miss may have been affected by a suspect hold.

There wasn't a whole lot more that can be said about the on-field play during the short afternoon session -- the Cougs spent their time working hard on the particulars of a variety of formations, and on execution.

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