NOTEBOOK: Candid quotes from Wulff

PAUL WULFF, FOR THE second time in two weeks, took issue with what he believes has been a lack of calorie intake among Cougar players. Plain and simple, he said in one of two wide-ranging conference calls Tuesday, the troops haven't been packing in enough food or lifting enough weights. They're not undernourished or flabby, but they're not as big and buff as they need to be in a major program.

"What we lack and it's very elementary, we lack calorie intake, we lack living in the weight room and getting ourselves physically big and strong," Wulff said, echoing comments he made to Bud Withers of the Seattle Times about 10 days ago.

"We lack strength right now. That is in correlation to our performance and that is in correlation to our injuries. It's as simple as that. What also comes with that is maturity and having fifth-year seniors in your program."

"Some of these kids, the environment wasn't such where they could get a lot better -- the weight program, a lot of things we had just weren't up to par and we have to get those things going," Wulff said.

Wulff's comments could cast a new light on the sudden departure announced on July 25, one week before the season opener, of longtime, well regarded strength and conditioning coach Rob Oviatt. When he stepped down just prior to the start of the football season, Oviatt had said he wanted to spend more time with his family. Wulff said he believes gains will come quickly given the system he has in place and the high-energy coaching staff that is implementing it.

"I have a ton of confidence. I talked to coach (Mike) Levenseller, he's been here 17 years. I think he knows football at Washington State better than anybody. Just asking him where he sees this team in the last 17 years and I'm not going to go into detail where he places this team but the bottom line is he thinks the things we're doing are going to speed it up as fast as we can possibly speed things up...we're going to be making gains as fast as we're possibly able to make them."

Wulff addressed a variety of other topics in the conference calls ....

On not having to put a spin on earning early playing time when recruiting:
"That's a fact, I don't really have to spin it...we've lost some kids that came into the program over the last 3-4 years that were recruited here whether they never made it or they flunked out or they quit, whatever the case may be. There's a huge hole (in the) number of kids that are even on the team and on scholarship. What that really does is it allows a younger player to come in and play and develop a lot quicker."

On the similarities between the struggles of UCLA and Washington State:
"In the offseason there were two coaching changes in the conference, at UCLA and at Washington State. And if you just watch film, you can see why. And you understand why there needed to be some changes...I read a quote where (Rick Neuheisel) they've got to recruit and recruit hard. And I echo that because that's why it is where it is."

On getting back to wins and bowl games:
"I have great confidence in this university and it's a great place. And it's proven you can win here and we'll do it again. But we have some steps we have to take to get there and recruiting is a big part of that and getting the current players going and developing them and getting them better. And we can do that, it's just going to take time."

On the effort of the team as a whole:
"The one thing I like about our team though is we have some young kids playing and they're going to keep getting better. Veteran players are trying to bring along the young guys, and they're trying too. The thing about our team that is encouraging is they are working hard and they're doing the right things right now, and that's all I can ask."

"We're just not as deep and we're still getting guys to buy in, believe and play hard and to execute. It's a process."

On WSU returning eight starters on defense this year:
"You go back and (on defense), if you really look at... 'eight returning starters', we haven't had eight returning starters on that football field." (A quick check of the official stats show in five games, WSU has had two players from last year's returning starters, start each game at the same position -- Greg Trent and Matt Mullennix, though Mullennix is credited for starting the PSU game at d-tackle)

On if the players think they can beat UCLA on the road:
"I think the kids probably believe they can beat them and they should. If we have enough competitors we can do that."

On how the Cougs will "probably" stay with huddling with Marshall Lobbestael getting his second career start.
"I think it did help and for a first career start, he did do some good things."

On the defense:
"It's going to be a challenge every week. We know that, and this week is going to be no different for our defense."

On the role of recruiting:
"We're regrouping from a lower level right now but the thing is we've got an opportunity to grow and move forward. All the signs are there for us to take the steps for us to move forward and we already have in recruiting and we have a number of of young kids that are playing right now."

On how alumni are dealing with a 1-4 record and two Pac-10 games where the Cougs have given up 60-plus points:
"It's going to build. The tough part is dealing with where we're at. And no one likes that if you're a fan of Washington State..and as a coach, I don't like that either. It's not an X's and O's thing, it's not a coaching thing and it's not necessarily individual people. It's just an overall culture that went kind of sideways. And we're regrouping it so everybody can get on the same page and it's going to take some time."

On if the players are frustrated:
"I think there's a little bit of frustration but I think they want to do better and I think they're willing to work to do that, and I think that's the thing that makes it still fun. And let's go back, before the first game I said it was going to be a work in progress. And it is. We've had five games and three different starting quarterbacks. We've had a (starting offensive line that (has changed each week), same thing on defense. When you have that kind of change, it's tough to get that consistency you would like and the turnover battle for us has been really poor...we've got to clean that up (ourselves) and we can start changing the outcome of the ball game."

On if WSU came out flat against Oregon:
"I don't think we were flat. I don't think that's an accurate statement. I thought our kids were ready, I thought they were emotionally into it and I wouldn't use that as an excuse. I don't think that was the case."

On making some tweaks to the schemes vs. the need to execute in the base defense
"There comes a point in time where you say, We're going to line up in our base..we need to execute and make a team beat you. We have to get our players to do the basic things and let them go make the plays. We can't be trying to make plays for them (through big changes), that can get dicey. If you're ever coached the game of football and been around it and find yourself in those situations, it's not a good deal."

On moving Andy Mattingly to defensive end this offseason:
"It was very evident in looking at film ...that a pass rush was not present in really the last three years...We've tried to get some more athleticism there in moving Andy down...Andy's done some good things at end and then there's been a learning adjustment for him and we we're just trying to get out best players on the football field."

On if Mattingly would be better suited to play at a traditional linebacker spot as he did last season:
"I think where Andy stood out last year was the times they decided to blitz from the linebacking position..and he had some sacks. And he can run and run fairly well when it comes to straight ahead and downhill type of things. To ask Andy to play coverage and do those types of things.. clearly would not be in his best interest of what his athletic ability would allow him to do -- his athletic ability is more straight line. And he would be better as a "loaded SAM-type linebacker', more of a stand up linebacker down in the box is what really fits Andy best, probably. And that might be something we work to even in this season and the next (but) he's not a linebacker who should play out in space, playing coverage. Everyone has their strengths. Andy is a good football player, a very good football player, and we like him. Just the whole unsettledness of our defense has forced us to (move him and) patch some holes up."

THE UCLA GAME this Saturday (7:15 p.m. PT) will be broadcast in HD on Fox Sports Northwest according to the Washington State SID.

The first seven WSU games have now been picked up for broadcast with WSU-Oregon State selected on Monday by FSN-NW. It will also be available on Fox College Sports (FCS). The Oct. 11 game in Corvallis is slated for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

Of the remaining games on the schedule that have thus far been selected for broadcast, three of the four are scheduled for broadcast in HD -- UCLA this Saturday, USC in Week 8 and Washington in Week 12. The USC and Washington games are scheduled for national feeds on FSN.

Kickoff time and potential television appearances for Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State and Hawaii are yet to be determined, with ABC and FSN selecting additional games during the course of the season, with announcements usually made six or 12 days in advance of the games.

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