Having bit the bullet, what's next for '09?

WITH THE 2008 season in the books, what should Cougar fans expect next season? Plenty, said Paul Wulff on Tuesday afternoon. The head man of the Cougs also rejected out of hand the notion that the X's and O's in the Pac-10 conference turned out to be anything that was surprising or unexpected in his first year at the Wazzu helm.

THE COUGS WILL still be a youthful team next year, fourth year juniors and fifth year seniors will be in short supply.

"For us to get back to that, we have to redshirt players like we did this year. Bite the bullet and start layering the team that way. That's how you're going to get it done here. And we will," said Wulff.

Wulff said he "bit the bullet" by playing a number of freshmen and young guys, in second halves of games, by design. It didn't look good on the scoreboard, and it didn't satisfy those who were looking for more consistent improvement over the course of the season. But, said Wulff, it will pay off long term.

"..We decided to play a number of young kids to get them playing time. Next thing you know they scored an extra 2-3 touchdowns...but I was looking long term and at a bigger picture than other people were," said Wulff.

DOES THAT MEAN next year is going to be more of the same -- more lopsided losses until the Cougs can get a large number of fourth and fifth year experienced players lining up on the field?

No, Wulff said emphatically.

"We'll be a lot more competitive. We'll be a much improved football team next year -- there's no doubt about it," said Wulff.

The primary reasons for that, Wulff said, include that the players returning who now have a year under their belts will understand the WSU staff's systems better, the weight program is undergoing a major overhaul plus losing five quarterbacks to injury again would be unlikely. There are also a number of players waiting in the wings who could claim starting jobs and significant playing time.

"We've got some key players coming off redshirts that are going to make some dramatic improvements on our football team -- at running back, at corner, and d-line and o-line that didn't play that we preserved," said Wulff.

Players redshirting this season or sitting out a transfer year include RB James Montgomery, CB Brandon Jones, DT Bernard Wolfgramm and OT Zack Williams, all of whom are expected to make an immediate impact.

"The team, if you look at it on paper, we're starting to layer, we're starting to get that," said Wulff.

THE QUESTION HAS been asked of Paul Wulff a few times this season as the Cougs slid to a 2-11 record, be it by the media or in cyberspace -- has this year presented a steep learning curve for Wulff and his staff after coming over from Eastern Washington, a FCS school.

Not remotely the case, says Wulff.

"I've said this before.. but from an X and O standpoint, coaching against another team -- no different than what I'm used to doing," said Wulff. "It's the same stuff. That's not an issue at all.

"The issue is really understanding your personnel..and then what are our deficiencies and what are our strength from a personnel standpoint, what do we need to fix currently within our program and what do we need to recruit moving forward," said Wulff.

Wulff said his expectation was that the assistant coaching staff would "absolutely" remain intact for next season.

We'll have much more from Wulff a little later on

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