Wulff talks QB, Hawaii, more

KEVIN LOPINA WILL retain his starting position for at least another week. WSU coach Paul Wulff said during Tuesday's Pac-10 conference call that he felt Lopina managed the game better in Saturday's 39-13 season-opening loss against Stanford. Over on defense, a new face might see some time in reserve role. And a Cougar WR has reportedly been arrested.

Paul Wulff said walk-on redshirt freshman Kyle McCartney might see time at safety this week.

Wulff expects sophomore Eric Block, who suffered a slight concussion and stinger after blasting Chris Owusu in the hardest hit of the game, to play. Block will undergo more tests today to see if that's possible, though. Wulff expects redshirt freshman Jay Matthews to return in a week from his shoulder injury.

OFFENSIVELY FOR THE Cougs, Kevin Lopina, who completed 10 of 15 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown in the opener, could see a lot more playing time if he performs well against Hawaii on Saturday, according to Wulff.

"We feel that Kevin is playing extremely well," he said, adding that the coaching staff still hasn't seen enough difference between Lopina and Marshall Lobbestael to secure one as the starter. "If he's hot, there's a chance Marshall might not play."

The coach said, though, "we don't want to close the door" on Lobbestael. Lobbestael completed 8 of 13 passes for 78 yards against the Cardinal. Wulff said he believes the sophomore was hampered at times by poor pass protection, but liked what he saw when Lobbestael had time to throw.

"Marshall made some nice, impressive throws at times," Wulff said.

He also noted that Lobbestael is coming off major surgery on his left knee, while Lopina started eight games last season and is more experienced.

"I think he (Lopina) managed the clock a little bit better," Wulff said.

While the Cougars sort out their quarterbacks, Hawaii returns senior Greg Alexander. In the 2008 season finale, Alexander completed 19 of 34 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Warriors to a 24-10 win against WSU.

"It's a big challenge," Wulff said, referring to containing Alexander. "He throws the ball well and has deceiving scrambling ability."

SOPHOMORE WIDE RECEIVER Kevin Norrell was expected back this week after missing the opener because of the flu but that looks to now be in doubt.

The Spokesman-Review is reporting Norrell was arrested after 3 a.m. by the Pullman police for DUI, Reckless Driving, Criminal Trespassing 2nd Degree and No Valid Operating License without ID. Also, redshirt freshman walk-on linebacker Joshua Garrett was cited for minor exhibiting at the same time. Garrett was practicing today, Norrell was not.

Garrett has been suspended for the next two games but will be allowed to practice. Norrell has been suspended indefinitely.

SIMILAR TO WULFF, Greg McMackin also enters his second year as coach at his current school. But unlike his team, which has made wholesale personnel changes in addition to implementing the no-huddle offense, Wulff doesn't see many differences in the Warriors. Hawaii won its opener 25-20 against a Football Championship Subdivision team, Central Arkansas.

"The same system looks like it's still there," he said, adding there might be some minor adjustments on the defensive side that returns just one starter. "We don't envision a lot of changes from a year ago."

WULFF SAID THE Cougs will need to clean up this week some of the problems that resulted in big plays for Stanford in the opener. Immediately after the Cougars' first touchdown of the season in the third quarter, Stanford returned a kickoff 85 yards for a Stanford score.

Wulff said the special teams has to "shore up" and there might be some personnel adjustments this week.

Wulff liked that his players had "a lot more physical presence" on tackles than a year ago, but there's still some need for improvement in that area. Stanford's 235-pound running back Toby Gerhart had a 39-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He finished 121 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.

"We still have some tackling issues," he said. "Toby Gerhart is going to do that to most people, but we still need to wrap up."

Perhaps the area that pleased Wulff the most was how his players responded to adversity.

He cited how the Cougars had 19-play, 85-yard drive after Stanford scored a touchdown on its first possession. The series didn't result in any points because junior Nico Grasu missed a short field goal. Wulff also mentioned stopping Stanford late in the first half. The Cardinal started the drive at WSU's 45-yard line, but went three-and-out.

"I saw signs of resiliency there," he said.

WULFF SAID HE doesn't expect any starters to be replaced, but he reiterated the need for improvement on the offensive line.

WSU running backs James Montgomery and Dwight Tardy combined for 97 yards, but Wulff felt it could've been much more.

"We had some good runs and there were times where we got beat physically at the point of attack," he said. "There was a chance for some big plays. It goes back to getting all 11 (players) to execute."

  • Junior wide receiver Daniel Blackledge won't practice today, but Wulff expects him back Wednesday. He also noted that juniors Jeshua Anderson and Johnny Forzani continue to progress from their injuries. Anderson played against Stanford and had one reception for 9 yards.

  • Wulff liked what he saw from the offense, but said it only can improve as those players return and everyone becomes more and more comfortable with the system. "I thought they did a much better job," he said. "Things will be moving fast on all cylinders and I think we'll see a higher level of execution."

  • Wulff said he likely will split the team into three buses as it travels to Seattle for its 4 p.m. game Saturday. Offensive and defensive linemen will take one bus with offensive and defensive skill position players each taking a separate bus.

  • There now are 16 players on the team who have reported flu symptoms, according to Wulff. But he doesn't believe any are related to the H1N1 flu. Wulff said the coaches remind players to cough in their arms, wash their hands and stay away from those who are ill.

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