Despite loss, day special for Wulff, Rogers

SEATTLE -- Paul Wulff and Gary Rogers are separated by a generational gap but for one afternoon at Qwest Field both shared a common emotion when the Washington State football team faced Oklahoma State. For Wulff, 41, the game was his first as the Cougars' head coach; his first on behalf of the school that has meant so much to him since his undergraduate days as a player in the late 1980s.

For Gary Rogers, 22, the game was his first as the Cougars' starting quarterback following four years as a loyal backup to Alex Brink.

For them, only a victory by the Cougars – they lost to Oklahoma State, 39-13 – would have made the day complete. Otherwise, it was perfect.

Paul Wulff, hired away from Eastern Washington in Cheney to replace Bill Doba, said there was "a lot" to enjoy about his Cougar debut in front of a crowd of 50,830.

"Going out for the first time with the team, it really hit me,'' Wulff said. "It was ‘OK, we're at Washington State University now.' That was really fun and exciting.

"And watching the players and their body language and how they were trying to play the game. You could see they were really trying. I didn't sense a lot of negativity on the sideline, at all."


Rogers, a graduate of Kamiak High in Mukilteo, said, "I was just anticipating this moment.

"I have been waiting awhile. I just wanted to take everything in and soak it up. It's been really fun. I'm just looking forward to having a great season."

Statistically, Rogers' starting debut fell short of great – 12 pass completions out of 24 attempts for 82 yards, one touchdown, one interception, plus one TD running. But Wulff wasn't complaining about his quarterback.

"He had some balls dropped," Wulff said. "I would guess between five and seven, somewhere in that range. He may have missed some checks. But overall, after he calmed down, I thought he did a nice job."

Throughout his post-game critique with reporters, Wulff maintained a cool and calm demeanor. He talked about the mistakes made by his players that contributed to the defeat. He also talked about what he liked.

"There were some things I was really happy with," Wulff said. "I wouldn't say surprised, but happy. I thought the kids' focus and attention to what they were doing was there. They had pretty solid energy throughout. I thought they were focused; they were trying to do all the right things. They were encouraging each other."

So, for Cougar fans who had hoped for something better it was a day to forget. For Wulff and Rogers it was a day they both should – and will -- remember.


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