ROUNDUP: Inside Apple Cup week

AN OLD APPLE CUP saying, usually dusted off by the time Saturday rolls around, is this: Everybody is healthy this week. That's not exactly the case for the Cougs headed into the 101st edition of the Washington State-Washington series. But there are some promising developments on the injury front -- including Tuesday's status report on Kevin Lopina, Logwone Mitz and Kevin Kooyman, Paul Wulff says.

"We think Kevin Lopina (mild concussion) will be cleared to participate today in practice, at least a minimal amount," Wulff said Tuesday afternoon. "Logwone Mitz (shoulder) who didn't play last week should be able to play this week."

Wulff said Kevin Kooyman (stinger) is expected to be closer to full strength for Saturday and that quarterback J.T. Levenseller (bruised non-throwing hand) will be ready to go for Saturday.

Wulff also said Myron Beck (broken hand) would probably be cleared for limited practice today with the hope he would be able to go on Saturday with a casted hand.

DE Andy Mattingly (ankle) is "extremely questionable" though he may get some light work today. CB Tyrone Justin (ankle) has gone from doubtful to questionable this week, the staff hoping his ankle will improve enough over the week that he'd be able to get more playing time. Running backs Chantz Staden (knee) and Chris Ivory (hamstring) are out.

WHILE SOME ARE bound to feel a game between two 10-loss teams doesn't hold much luster, Wulff said the Apple Cup is always special.

"I don't think it's ever really been about the records, before now and in the future," said Wulff. "We want to win it. It will help with some of the sting of the season, obviously, and I think that's important we have the opportunity to do that and to go into the offseason feeling a little bit better about yourselves.

"I don't know that the outcome of the ball game is going to affect the future of the (two) programs, I don't think that's the case. It's not going to make a program worse and it's not going to make a program better. But it does make you feel a little bit better and so I think it's very important we try to get that accomplished for ourselves, our team and our alumni."

AFTER LOOKING AT tape on the Huskies, Wulff said the UW features a speedy and talented group at receiver and quarterback with a big arm. Their offensive line is also one of the biggest in the Pac-10.

Defensively, the Huskies have also been solid in a lot of ways that haven't necessarily shown up on the scoreboard, said Wulff.

THE HUSKIES are still winless and the Cougs have only one victory to their credit. A big part of what has made the season difficult for both teams, said Wulff, is that the intensity level has waned for both teams as games have gotten out of hand and the the losses have piled up. For the Cougs, injuries across the board have also been particularly devastating.

"Having five different quarterbacks take snaps for you is something I've never even dreamed would ever occur," said Wulff. "...The only stat that typifies our season right now...it's the turnover ration, we have to be last in the country..when you're minus 24, my Lord, you're going to struggle.

"A year ago, we were at one time first in the country where I was at (EWU) in turnover ratio and I think we finished fifth or sixth in the country. That's a big stat for me -- I think that's the No. 1 most important stat...and I think it's a direct reflection on our youth on our team and the fact we've had to play so many quarterbacks."

WULFF SAID having now been at Washington State for almost a full year, knowing the players' abilities in a way the staff didn't this year, will pay dividends next season.

"We get such limited time to be with these guys..," said Wulff. "The first time we were actually around these guys was after (February's) Signing Day, you get X amount of workouts to be around them, you get spring practice and then the rules are you're not allowed to be around them at all in the summer and then you get into fall camp...but that's all going to be a positive because we've got that little base now.

"And we can build from that and move forward and with all the players we redshirted we got to see them practice and practice under stressful situations. So as we move forward, as coaches we'll do a much better job of knowing our personnel a lot better.

NOTABLE NOTES AND QUOTES:
  • "We're going to go into the game with the idea that we're going to win. It is important that we try to win every game, and we have, there's no question. But we're also trying to look for some steps in growth and that's been a big goal of ours because you can't just go from A to Z, you've got to go from A to B to C..to D...," said Wulff.

  • Wulff said the Cougs have tried to "cut it loose" with playcalling but the results have often been turnovers or giving up big plays. That said, he didn't rule out pulling out all the stops for the Apple Cup. "We're not going to be conservative, let's just say that," said Wulff.

  • "I think our players..have come together so to speak, and are working better as a team these last few weeks... I think there's been a lot of growth there."

  • WSU Sports Information said 1,800 tickets remained as of yesterday.


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