WULFF: Missed tackling, miscues, injuries

TWO AREAS STOOD out prominently to WSU's coaching staff after watching film of Saturday's 38-20 non-conference loss against Hawaii at Qwest Field -- tackling and turnovers. In addition to seven turnovers, Paul Wulff said Sunday night that the Cougars missed 21 tackles.

"That combination is deadly," said Paul Wulff. "If you ever get into that situation, you probably are going to lose by 40 or 50 points. If we could've shored those two things up, I think the game would've been a completely different outcome."

Wulff said while the Cougars (0-2 overall, 0-1 Pac-10) didn't quit when they fell behind early, they still struggle at dealing with adversity because of their inexperience. Only four players — not counting offensive lineman Joe Eppele who delayed enrollment — remain from the 2005 class. Seven still are in the program from the 2006 class brought in under former coach Bill Doba.

"We lost our poise a little bit," he said. "Guys didn't quit, but they tensed up a little bit. It used to be the opposite."

But Wulff acknowledged that the team must execute better. Wulff felt his team could have produced 600 yards of total offense instead of 403 by reducing its mistakes.

"There were so many things that we didn't convert or execute well," he said. "We could've done a lot more."

WSU LIKELY WILL have to accomplish that with less. Wulff said the injury situation doesn't look "too good" entering Saturday's 2 p.m. game against Southern Methodist at Martin Stadium.

Redshirt freshman LeAndre Daniels, who has started the first two games of the season at strong safety, suffered a broken leg against Hawaii and will be out eight weeks.

Wulff said true freshman wide receiver Gino Simone likely won't play after suffering a concussion. Junior Zack Williams, who has started at left guard, also is expected to miss a few weeks because of a high ankle sprain. Wulff said junior Brian Danaher, an eight-game starter last season, probably will replace Williams. Andy Mattingly, Wulff said immediately following the game, also had a concussion.

Sophomore cornerback Aire Justin (pulled quadriceps) and senior defensive end Kevin Kooyman (knee) haven't been cleared to play. Wulff said redshirt freshman Dan Spitz will move from defensive tackle to end to accommodate Kooyman's injury.

But the Cougars might add some depth in the secondary as Wulff expects sophomore safety Eric Block, who suffered a concussion and a stinger against Stanford, to return. Redshirt freshman safety Jay Matthews (back) also might be back if he's cleared by doctors during testing Monday. Wulff also said sophomore linebacker Louis Bland (knee) is getting healthier, the linebacker had three tackles on Saturday.

SOME POSITIONS remained unsettled. Senior Kevin Lopina likely will start at quarterback for a third consecutive week, but Wulff wasn't ready to make a full-on commitment. Lopina completed 18 of 32 passes for 191 yards, but threw two interceptions. Sophomore Marshall Lobbestael was 2 of 6 for 36 yards and also had an interception.

"When he's (Lopina) in there, we've moved the ball positively," said Wulff, adding that Lopina likely would get the majority of playing time again this week. "We're still talking about it and what's positive for this season and beyond."

Senior Dwight Tardy has started both games at running back, but was supplanted by junior James Montgomery, who rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Tardy carried seven times for 29 yards.

"He's been producing," Wulff said of Montgomery. "When we've had success on offense, he's been a big part of it."

  • Wulff mostly likes what he sees from his wide receivers. Junior Jeffrey Solomon led the Cougars with 71 yards on six receptions. Sophomore Jared Karstetter fumbled near the goal line late in the first quarter and again later in the game, but Wulff said, "Jared will learn from this and we'll move forward."

    "If you follow Cougar football closely, you're seeing the wide receivers growing up," he said. "They're underclassmen and they're competing."

    He said several wide receivers now are involved on special teams, including junior Johnny Forzani, who served as the gunner.

    "There's some good athletes, but they need to become more physical," said Wulff, adding that he saw improvement of the coverage teams. "If they can beat them with speed, they can get down there."

  • WSU defensive players were outrun on a 73-yard touchdown reception by Rodney Bradley and a 44-yard run by Alex Green in the second quarter. Wulff was succinct when asked if speed was an emphasis when he recruits players.

    "There's no question," he said. "If you look at the teams I've been involved with in the past, speed has been a huge part of my philosophy. We've got to continue to recruit speed and a lot more of it."

  • Wulff said the staff planned to review tape tonight from SMU. The Mustangs won 35-33 Saturday at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. They beat Stephen F. Austin, a Football Championship Subdivision team, 31-23 in their opener. Wulff said June Jones, who previously coached at Hawaii, has some differences in his version of the run-and-shoot offense that he features than the Warriors.

  • One player who stood out to Wulff was sophomore linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis, who made his first start at middle linebacker. Hoffman-Ellis, who redshirted last season, played one year at Moorpark Junior College and only one season in high school.

    "He was our player of the game," Wulff said. "He ran extremely well. The more he plays, the better he gets."

  • Six of the 11 starters on defense, including the entire defensive line, didn't play a game for WSU last season. Wulff noted that even after a redshirt year, cornerback Terrance Hayward, who played extensively against Hawaii, still is only 17 years old. But Wulff said he's excited about a number of young players.

    "I don't know if people realize how young this football team is," he said. "We're trying to get more mature every week. I think they have some nice futures moving forward."


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