Encouraging early info on Lopina, JT injuries

PAUL WULFF WAS cautiously optimistic Sunday night on the status for the Apple Cup of his two quarterbacks -- Kevin Lopina and J.T. Levenseller -- who were injured Saturday at Arizona State. Wulff pointed to the Cougar defense and singled out a foursome who helped hold ASU in the first half to 144 yards and 10 points. He also spoke on guys like Ben Woodard and the senior leadership.

Kevin Lopina (mild concussion) will have to pass a series of tests before being cleared to play but the first signs were encouraging.

"We're still evaluating Kevin but we're hoping by Tuesday he'll be able to practice and will be cleared. He's responding pretty well to this point based on the fact he had a very mild concussion," said Wulff.

X-rays on J.T. Levenseller (non-throwing hand) were negative.

"J.T. is okay...a sore hand, but he's okay," said Wulff.

WULFF SAID THAT Levenseller (7-for-14, 41 yards, 1 interception at ASU) is making mistakes but they're also the mistakes of youth, and of a true freshman quarterback who is not "100 percent ready".

Washington State was shut out in Tempe but the game was a close one, 10-0, at halftime.

"Actually if you go back and watch the film, (in the first half) we were moving the ball. We went down and moved it on the first drive, and then missed a field goal. The next opportunity we moved the ball again...but we didn't have the opportunity in the second quarter (9:06 to 5:54 time of possession) very often. I thought we moved the ball okay (early) but we sputtered here and there -- a missed block here or there, or a missed throw," said Wulff.

THE COUGAR DEFENSE, meanwhile, surrendered only 144 offensive yards to the Sun Devils through the first two quarters and forced punts on three of the first four ASU possessions and four of six overall before halftime.

"I thought in the first half they played pretty hard and tackled well. They did some good things, but one blown deal there allowed them to complete a pass (3rd quarter, 51 yard TD pass) but for the most part I thought the defense did some good things, the kids played hard," said Wulff.

Four of the stop crops who were singled out by Wulff Sunday night for their execution on defense were DT Fevaea'i Ahmu (four tackles), linebacker Louis Bland (8 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup), DT Toby Turpin (2 sacks) and Matt Mullennix (3 tackles).

"There are some flashes of plays being made the last two games (overall) on defense that hadn't been there prior to that in a lot of ways," said Wulff.

AMONG THE SENIORS who will be playing their last Apple Cup is Ben Woodard, of whom Wulff offered high praise on Sunday night.

Wulff also had good things to say about how the seniors and their efforts in the latter stages of the season.

"As we've moved through this year, as we've moved down this last stretch, the seniors have done a good job trying to help all the young players that are around them," said Wulff.

  • RB Logwone Mitz (shoulder) is questionable with more possibly known on Tuesday. "We're hopeful he's going to be okay," said Wulff.

  • RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), who has missed the last several games, re-strained his hammy in the week leading up to ASU and is out for the Apple Cup, said Wulff.

  • Chantz Staden (knee) was having an MRI on Sunday evening but early indications were that his '08 season might be over. With Staden, the most versatile player the Cougs have on offense and special teams, expected out, Wulff said the Cougs will look at Kevin Norrell first with Brandon Gibson his likely backup for returns.

  • Tyrone Justin remains questionable with a stubborn ankle injury.

  • Wulff said a decision will be made later this week at placekicker on whether the Cougs go back to Nico Grasu or stay with Wade Penner, who got the nod for ASU. Penner missed his only attempt from 41 yards out while Grasu was in charge of kickoff duties.

    NOTABLE: Oddsmakers have installed the Huskies as 8 1/2-point favorites over the Cougars.

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