Q&A with coaches Wulff, Ball and Sturdy

PULLMAN--The first game is still months away, but Washington State football coaches had plenty to say when it came to discussing the topics of the Cougs' training, physicality, the no-huddle, communication, defensive line, running backs and more. Paul Wulff, offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy and co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball in a wide ranging conversation on the first half of spring drills.

A siege of injuries has limited the Cougars this spring, yet coaches find plenty of reason for optimism as the team heads into the final two weeks of spring practice.

Head coach Paul Wulff, offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy and co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball are looking for continued improvement as the Cougars head into the final two weeks of practice.

Cougfan: You've emphasized the need for players to train better and differently than in the past. It's a long process, but have you seen progress in your second spring on the job?
Ball: We're a lot more physical than we were. We're way ahead of the physical part of it than we were at this time last year.

Sturdy: You're hearing pads crack.

Wulff: That's obviously an area that we can control a lot more in terms of getting ourselves bigger and stronger. There's no question it's an area we feel we need to improve, so we're going to continue to do that until we become the physical type of team that we need to be to be successful.

Cougfan: The no-huddle offense that Sturdy and Wulff ran so successfully at Eastern Washington had to be scrapped during the season last year because players were struggling so badly with the new offense. Part of the problem was all the injuries, especially at quarterback. How is the no-huddle coming along this spring?
Wulff: Good. We changed some things in the off-season to help with communication. We're doing more signals, and we're doing wristband types of things (with plays in writing). I think that helps a lot.

Sturdy: We're a little different, but that's OK. We've got to do the things that we can do and be who we are, what fits our personnel.

Cougfan: On defense, you only had seven players available in the secondary for Saturday's scrimmage, and several key linemen sat out with injuries. How's the defense look after being so ineffective last year?
Ball: We're better. Everyone is more on the same page and understands what the coaches' expectations are. Everyone knows each other a little better. There's a lot more familiarity.

Cougfan: What about that battered defensive line?
Ball: The defensive line is doing a really good job. We feel it's one of the stronger points of our team right now.

Cougfan: Players and coaches said team chemistry improved late in the season last year, even as the losses continued to pile up. How are things looking from a mental aspect this spring?
Sturdy: Our kids are very eager, very coachable. It's a great atmosphere right now.

Wulff: I like that our players are showing some consistency in practice. They're learning how to practice.

Cougfan: All the injuries limit your ability to build depth and experience, but that doesn't seem to be a problem at running back. Chris Ivory has missed all spring with his lingering hamstring problems, but California transfer James Montgomery and Dwight Tardy, Logwone Mitz and Marcus Richmond have looked good, haven't they?
Wulff: All four of them have done some good things … the running backs have got some very good competition.

Sturdy: They're competing their butts off. They're running physical.

Cougfan: Montgomery is making a strong push to replace three-year starter Tardy in the starting lineup. What do you think of Montgomery?
Wulff: He's been very consistent. He's doing a great job. He's a very well-rounded football player. He blocks well, he catches the ball and he runs well.

Cougfan: Louis Bland really came on late last season at outside linebacker as a true freshman. He was a last-minute recruiting signee, and he's listed at just 5-foot-10 and 202 pounds -- 1 pound less than last season. How is he playing this spring?
Ball: He keeps getting better. He can play. He's really, the last week or two, taken his game to the next level. As a freshman, you come in and try to survive, and you're learning. Now he's really grasping the little things that make you a better player.

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