Cougs turn to student body for scout team QB

PULLMAN -- In a move reminiscent of Philadelphia coach Dick Vermeil's open tryouts in 1976 that inspired the hit movie "Invincible," WSU coach Paul Wulff said after practice Tuesday that his search for a new scout team quarterback tentatively is set to begin Monday with an invitation to the WSU student body. "I know there's got to be somebody enrolled that's played quarterback," he said.

"No. That's not a joking reference at all," Wulff said. "We need to bring somebody in here for scout team because Dan Wagner may need to take some reps occasionally with the ones."

With Gary Rogers out for the season and Kevin Lopina out for several weeks, Wagner, the regular scout team QB, has moved up to second or third string. He's considered second string if No. 1 signal caller Marshall Lobbestael needs to leave a game for a few snaps. If Lobbestael was out of action for an extended period, the Cougs would burn freshman J.T. Levenseller's redshirt and make him the starter, with Wagner the back up.

Asked if he had ever held an open tryout in his head coaching tenure at Eastern Washington, Wulff chuckled. "No…I've never done it. But we only got three guys (at QB), and we don't have anybody to really help the scout team very much. It would be nice to get somebody out here."

Paul Wulff --

THE COUGARS' ONGOING carousel on the offensive line found Steven Ayers as the No. 1 left tackle on Tuesday. He replaces Vaughn Lesuma, who started there four times this season. Andrew Roxas, back from injury, was at left guard. Kenny Alfred and Brian Danaher continued at center and right guard, respectively. The right tackle spot, where tender-ankled Micah Hannam has started all season saw several players there Tuesday, including second-year freshman walk on Will Hunter (6-5, 290) of Oak Harbor and former left tackle Joe Eppele.

"It's Joe Eppele's first day at right tackle, so it's just odd for his stance, it's just a different feel, so we didn't get a lot of reps with him. Micah's ankle's just tender, and so we're just trying to limit the amount of reps in practice, that's why Will had the opportunity to do that."

Hunter, a high school teammate of Lobbestael's, struggled Tuesday, but Wulff has shown a commitment to getting younger on the offensive line.

As for the running game, Dwight Tardy continues to hold down the number one spot, despite averaging about a yard less per carry than backup Chris Ivory. RB coach Steve Broussard thinks that the running game and Tardy will get going if the Cougars can do one thing.

"We haven't been able to establish much because we've been behind early in games. Both guys are doing well, Dwight gets the bulk of the reps so it's not like they're splitting time. I think Dwight averages 40-50 plays per game, Chris may average 20 plays a game, sometimes it's how the flow of the game is going."

AFTER TALKING ABOUT diet and weight training deficiencies he's found in the program, Wulff was asked Tuesday if he would be disappointed if his first recruiting class, in three or four years hence, was physically at the level that Cougar upperclassmen are right now. "Very. Don't get me wrong, some of our upperclassmen are good and they're strong, but the overall core is not," said Wulff. "And I'm clearly not blaming the players – it's more what my belief and my philosophy is. And my philosophy is to maximize these guys to be as big and strong as they possibly can be in they're four to five years in the program."

* Lobbestael said the huddle, which the Cougs used vs. Oregon, give him additional time to think and slow things down, and that it isn't much different from the no huddle that WSU runs.

* UCLA is an 18-point favorite in Saturday's game. Kickoff is at 7:15 pm PT. FSN will televise the contest. The Village Pub in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood will have its 28 flat screens tuned in, with great drink and food specials on the menu.

* If Wulff wanted to grab a scout team QB off the exisiting roster, he'd have no shortage of choices. Safety Eric Block and linebacker Kevin Baffney won state titles as prep QBs. In addition, defensive backs Xavier Hicks and Kevin Frank played QB in high school.

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