NOTES: Cougs next face leading Pac-10 rusher

THE WASHINGTON STATE defense did a better job of gap control on defense against UCLA, something they'll need to continue to improve upon with the Pac-10's leading rusher next up this Saturday. Five expected contributors were out injured for UCLA, football dreams are on tap for Monday, while finding consistency on the offensive line continues to prove elusive for the Cougs.

At times this year, the Cougs have been pushed around on the defensive front seven -- one of the reasons why is pad level.

In the week leading up to UCLA, Paul Wulff made it a point of emphasis. And the results were more palatable in the film room on Sunday.

"I thought defensively we did some good things...The one thing we really stressed this week was playing with better pad level, getting lower. It's something we have to do," said Wulff.

Wulff said it will continue to be a "big emphasis" going forward. And it will need to be, with the league's leading rusher in Jacquizz Rodgers and Oregon State up next on Saturday. Rodgers (5-7, 193) is averaging 110 yards a game on 25 carries.

The OSU offensive line had trouble against No. 15 Utah in their last game but "Quizz" still gained 101 yards on 25 touches. And the week before, OSU manhandled then No. 1 USC in the trenches.

Left tackle Andy Levitre, the bell cow on the Beaver line, was seen regularly driving his man five, even 10 yards downfield on running plays against the Trojans. USC could not stop Oregon State's inside zone run play all night long, as Rodgers went for 186 ground yards.

AGAINST UCLA, WULFF said Marshall Lobbestael at times didn't set his feet and that the offensive line struggled to find consistency in both run and pass blocking.

Add it all up, and it meant missed opportunities and an offense that couldn't get into scoring position.

"Offensively, probably 15-20 opportunities we couldn't take advantage of," said Wulff.

Wulff was, however, pleased with the effort put forth.

"I thought our kids played pretty hard throughout," said Wulff.

Wulff said the Cougs may go back to the no huddle at some point but that they'll probably stay with it for the time being.

IN THE TRENCHES, DE Mike Graise got in the game early and had early success, so Malik Roberson kept him in and the senior saw probably the most turns he has all year, said Wulff. Conversely, Wulff slid guard Andrew Roxas out to left tackle for a struggling Vaughn Lesuma at times.

"We're going to try not to again," Wulff said of moving the 6-2 Roxas outside while bringing in frosh B.J. Guerra in to take his guard spot. "(But) it could. I never want to say never."

The Cougs had planned to play Will Hunter, a walk-on, more against UCLA but he broke a finger, and Steven Ayers was lost during the week to a neck/shoulder injury, lessening the already thin options on the o-line.

Another three players who figured to see playing time -- CB Tyrone Justin (quadriceps), who has started three games this year, Markus Dawes (thigh) and Chris Ivory (hamstring) -- also had to sit this one out.

Wulff said there looked to be few new injuries coming out of UCLA, nothing he thought would keep anyone out for Saturday's tilt in Corvallis.

NORMALLY A DAY away from the field, Monday will see scout team quarterback tryouts. Wulff said he has received numerous responses to the recent notice that went out to the student body.

"I've gotten some unbelievable emails," said Wulff.

The open tryout speaks to the Cougars' lack of depth across the board. When Gary Rogers and Kevin Lopina went down to injury in the same game, WSU was down to three quarterbacks -- Lobbestael, J.T. Levenseller and walk-on Dan Wagner. And prudence demands the No. 3 needs to get some reps with the first and second team. That would leave WSU without someone to run the offensive scout team against the No. 1 defense during the week.

Wulff said while there could be as many as 50 who want to try out, the required paperwork and getting cleared through the football office means there will probably be 5-8 out on the field Monday afternoon.

Cougfan Top Stories