PRACTICE REPORT: Tuel feeling good

PULLMAN -- He didn't take the majority of snaps with the first string but Jeff Tuel, post-practice Tuesday, was optimistic he would be ready to go on Saturday against Arizona State. One of the Cougars' linebackers, however, doesn't look to have the same probability factor. Meanwhile, the Cougars' o-line produces divergent results on the day.

Marshall Lobbestael ran the Cougar offense and took all the snaps in 11-on-11 drills running the first team.

Tuel, nursing a hip pointer and sore back, ran the second team and looked good. He also sounded good afterward. In his first interview in front of the media this season, Tuel said he doesn't believe the injuries he suffered against Oregon will keep him out this week.

"I actually surprised myself out there," Tuel said. "My plan originally was to come out, warm up, throw some balls and see how I felt but I ended up throwing (and) my back started loosening up some more. So I think there's a good chance."

Head coach Paul Wulff said that if Tuel is healthy enough, he will get the starting nod come Saturday.

ALTHOUGH HE MAY not start, Lobbestael looked good at times on Tuesday, connecting on several deep passes and hitting his targets consistently, despite constant pressure. Lobbestael did have a hiccup late, when he tried to hit Gino Simone on a bomb that was intercepted by safety Chima Nwachukwu.

The offensive line did some nice work in the run game, opening up big holes for RBs Dwight Tardy, Logwone Mitz and Carl Winston. However, the pass protection afforded Lobbestael on Tuesday was anemic.

Freshman defensive end Travis Long was in Lobbestael's face virtually all practice, and continues to show why he's a starter.

A POSITIVE NOTE up front on offense was the return of left guard Zack Williams (high ankle) to practice -- although Wulff has said Williams is not expected to be ready to play this Saturday and he didn't take any reps running with the 1s.

Brian Danaher, who subbed in for Williams before he was injured with a concussion, was also back at practice in a yellow no-contact jersey.

As Wulff indicated earlier in the day, true freshman Alex Reitnouer spent the day running with the 1s at guard. From the opening day starters on the o-line, the Cougs have lost three to injury with Kenny Alfred and Micah Hannam the remaining two.

REDSHIRT SOPHOMORE MLB Alex Hoffman-Ellis missed Tuesday's practice due to a staph infection and is doubtful for Saturday.

Hoffman-Ellis has been a clutch player for WSU this season, leading the Cougs in tackles and had a big 52-yard touchdown interception in the win over SMU. With Hoffman-Ellis out, Louis Bland looks to be the main man in the middle.

ON THE D-LINE, Jesse Feagin got in some turns with the ones, as did Jessy Sanchez. DT Bernard Wolfgramm (hip) was injured on Saturday and Wulff has termed him doubtful for Saturday.

If Wolfgramm doesn't start, the Cougs' this weekend will field only one starter (Long) up front on the d-line who also started the opener five weeks ago.

Kevin Kooyman (knee), Josh Luapo (knee) and Wolfgramm were the other three starters against Stanford. Luapo is out for the year and Kooyman may also be, though Kooyman could use a redshirt and return as a fifth year starter. Luapo has already used his and would be a fifth year senior next season.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Receiver Johnny Forzani got in some turns with the 1's on Tuesday and immediately hauled in a jumping catch from Lobbestael against CB Daniel Simmons.

  • Safety Xavier Hicks was wearing the yellow no contact jersey, but looked good throughout practice and did not look to be limited. While Wulff said Wolfgramm and Hoffman-Ellis are doubtful, he said he's hopeful that Tuel, Jared Karstetter (hip), and Hicks will all be able to go on Saturday.

  • RB Carl Winston is taking on a bigger role in practice the past few weeks and showed good footwork and burst of speed on Tuesday. Winston led the team in rushing against Oregon with 56 ground yards but he also had a fumble.

  • Terrance Hayward also continues to see increasing amounts of reps. The cornerback had a nice pass deflection when Lobbestael tried to hit Forzani deep on one occasion.

  • Kickoff Saturday is at 2 pm. There is no TV coverage.

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