"We have a great chance to win this ball game (Saturday against Arizona State)," the freshman quarterback told a small army of media after practice earlier this week. "We all feel like we should win this game...Our goals are set high, and we expect to win."
That seems like fairly bold talk for a true freshman whose college playing experience consists of parts of two games on a 1-4 team. Tuel, however, says the Cougars should benefit from playing at homecoming at Martin Stadium after two weeks on the road against Top 25 teams.
"It's going to be great," Tuel said. "We all deserve it...It's a great week for us to rebound and do some great things."
Tuel, set to make his second straight start after being knocked out of the Oregon game in the first quarter last week with a hip pointer, said he doesn't expect nerves to be a problem in his first home game.
"I wasn't too nervous (at Oregon)," he said. "I try not to hype it up too much about my first start...I'm just doing something I've been doing my whole life. I'm just out playing a game...People are bigger, stronger, faster (than in high school), but so are our guys."
DEFENSIVE END Travis Long, another one of WSU's true freshman starters, said the Cougars, despite the rough start, remain mentally strong.
"I think we're in a good place (mentally) right now," Long said. "I mean, we all want to battle and continue the season...The season's not over. They're not going to stop the games for us just because we've got some losses...We've got to battle through it. We've got half of the season left."
ARIZONA STATE HAS has lost two straight after opening the season with wins over lightweights Idaho State and Louisiana Monroe, so Sun Devils coach Dennis Erickson said he's not worried about his players taking WSU too lightly.
"I don't know if we have to prevent it at all with what we've done, to be very honest with you," Erickson said.
"I mean, we came out and laid an egg at home (losing 28-17 to Oregon State last week). If our guys don't realize they better be ready to play, they've got their heads in the sky."
FERDINAND'S ICE CREAM Shoppe on the WSU campus is offering the "Dennis Erickson Sundae" this week.
Ferdinand's, taking note of Erickson's brief stay at WSU and numerous other coaching stops, described the Erickson Sundae: "Here today, gone tomorrow. It's good, but you can't rely on it to be around too long."
WSU PUNTER Reid Forrest is booming the ball like never before, and he said that makes perfect sense.
"Last year, I walked out of a cast straight into game week," explained Forrest, who was coming off a broken ankle. "This year, I got all of fall camp and the summer under my belt, so that made a tremendous difference in my confidence and my strength in my plant leg."
Forrest ranks second in the Pac-10 and 11th in the nation with 44.7 yards per punt. Arizona State junior Trevor Hankins leads the Pac-10 and ranks sixth nationally at 45.7. Forrest leads the Pac-10 with seven punts of 50 yards or more and 11 punts downed inside the 20.
Unfortunately for the Cougars and their lukewarm offense, Forrest also leads the Pac-10 with 33 punts. That's tied for fourth in the Football Bowl Subdivision among the 91 leading punters listed by the NCAA.
INJURED COUGAR DEFENSIVE END Cory Mackay is now driving a car, thanks to hand controls, and he plans to drive to the homecoming game from his Redmond home.
Mackay's parents purchased the specially equipped car for their son, who remains paralyzed below the waist after a highway rollover last spring.
THE ANNUAL LINDY'S preseason college basketball magazine lists WSU sophomore wing Klay Thompson as the Pac-10's best NBA prospect and most versatile player.
Thompson was named to the five-man Lindy's all-conference first team. The Cougars were picked to finish seventh in the Pac-10 by Lindy's.
-- Pellum pleads: Ex-Cougar cornerback Romeo Pellum, who admitted breaking into two WSU dorm rooms last winter, faces up to three months in the Whitman County Jail after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary.
One of the burglary charges was dropped in exchange for Pellum's guilty plea. Sentencing is due Dec. 18.
Pellum was Washington State's top cornerback last year, but he has seen little playing time since transferring to Hampton, with one tackle in three games played for the 2-2 Pirates out of Virginia. Hampton plays in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA).
-- Hoorelbeke honored: Ex-Cougar Jesse Hoorelbeke was named the all-star first baseman in the independent Atlantic League.
Hoorelbeke, playing for the Bridgeport (Conn.) Bluefish, ranked among the league leaders with a .293 batting average, 23 home runs, 88 runs batted in, a .517 slugging percentage and a .391 on-base percentage in 120 games.
WSU NOTEBOOK: Tuel, Forrest, sundaes and more
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