Athletes are creatures of habit, and the Cougars' game preparations were thrown for a loop by the Thursday decision to move the game at Baylor up a day to avoid likely problems related to Hurricane Ike.
No one would have blamed Wulff if he took a bite out of that big, juicy carrot. Most coaches would have jumped at the opportunity, particularly when they're 0-3 after three ugly losses.
Wulff, however, is a different breed of cat. Anyone who ever saw Wulff play the game knows that he would never have used the game change and same-day travel as an excuse for poor play on his part, and he wasn't about to use those excuses to explain the latest slipshod performance by his team.
CHRIS IVORY FIGHTS FOR EXTRA YARDAGE.
"Nah, I'm not going to say that," Wulff said. "We just got outplayed."
Did they ever. The Cougars racked up season highs for points and total yards, and they still got clobbered 45-17 in points and 555-340 in total yards Friday night by a Baylor team that most folks figure is headed for its 13th consecutive losing season. Coming into the Cougar game, Baylor had lost nine straight against D-IA foe.
"Just too many mistakes, obviously," Wulff said. "I thought we got better in a lot of things. The mistakes we make are just so big."
On Friday, the biggest of the big mistakes included seven sacks, five turnovers and four runs of 46 or more yards allowed by a team that is giving up 50 points a game.
I repeat: Fifty points a game. The offense and special teams have been responsible for five pppg through the first three weeks but a defense giving up 45 points each time out will not be on the winning side very often. And if Wazzu holds Portland State to 49 next Saturday, the Cougars improve their season average.
Wulff has talked at length about the inexperience that haunts his team at so many positions, but the defense returned nine starters from a year ago, though only five started in the same positions on Friday night. The Cougs had a junior and a freshman among their starting front seven against Baylor but the other five were seniors. So much for the alleged advantages of experience and senior leadership.
So much for the alleged advantages of experience and senior leadership. The Cougars simply lack the speed and athleticism necessary to compete at a high level. When the Cougars face speedy, gifted athletes like Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter and California running back Jahvid Best and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin ... well, it's not been a pretty sight for those who love crimson.
Griffin, an 18-year-old true freshman, made would-be tacklers look silly all night long. He averaged a tidy 19.7 yards per carry, which is only a Big 12 Conference record. He needed just 11 carries to pile up 217 rushing yards, which is only a school record.
"That quarterback makes everybody look slow," Wulff said. "He's an explosive player," WSU senior Brandon Gibson said. "He looks like a receiver playing quarterback. He has a cannon for an arm."
It did nothing to ease the Cougars' pain to learn that Griffin spent a few years living in Olympia as a young boy when his father served in the Army at Fort Lewis. Alas, Griffin wound up moving with his family to Texas, and he landed in long-suffering Baylor's lap when he changed his mind about attending Houston after coach Art Briles left there for Baylor over the winter.
On Friday, Griffin had three runs of 57 yards or better. Dwight Tardy, WSU's leading rusher, had 44 yards all game.
Wulff says the Cougars have often been guilty of simply lining up incorrectly in WSU's base defense. That helps explain why Griffin and his teammates often ran freely about the field as if they were wearing "no touch" badges.
"We're playing a lot of guys," co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball said. "This whole thing (defensive scheme) is new to them. If we can't get lined up in our base, we've got to find someone who can get lined up.
"It's on us, as coaches. We've got to look in the mirror first to see what we're doing defensively. It's worked in the past."
The football past of Washington State has seen plenty of good and bad. As for the immediate future, what the Cougars will see in the mirror -- or at least the film room -- figures to rarely be pretty.
NEXT UP: The Cougs return to Pullman next Saturday for a game with Portland State.