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