Cougs could get 5 starters back for Cal

HOW BANGED UP are the Cougs headed into the bye week? Consider that as many as five starters, including three on the o-line, could return from injury in time for Cal. Meanwhile, the turning point in a win or loss is often not as well remembered as the plays that come after it.

Against ASU, that turning point came when the Cougs went for it on fourth down deep in ASU territory, made it, but then Daniel Blackledge fumbled.

"Huge," said Paul Wulff. "It's 7-0 at that time..we had an opportunity to make it 7-7 and instead they turn around and make it 13-0 at the half...I've been around the game long enough to know that when you go through times like this, you're not winning ball games, you're trying to get young guys to make plays. When you're trying to do that, frustrating things occur."

Wulff, however, remains adamant that the Cougars are making strides.

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"As they mature, and as they get stronger, you hope they do it in the middle of the year... But as they move year to year, these stepping stones that we are making will continue to add up in our favor," said Wulff. "And we'll perform better and better moving forward. But (right now) it's tough."

DREW BLEDSOE AND Wulff talked the day before the game and Wulff said he, and others, are behind Wulff and his gameplan for the program.

"He said we're building it back up and, 'You're doing it the right way and it's going to come.' All the players, from the Ryan Leaf's to the players in their 50s and 60s, that know what Washington State's all about, and understand football, they know exactly where we are at. And they're 100 percent supportive...they know we're doing it the way it needs to be done here at Washington State."

AMONG THE WALKING wounded, some might be held out of practice this week but Wulff said he expects to get G Zack Williams (high ankle) back by the time the Cougs meet Cal on Oct. 24. LT Steven Ayers (ankle) and G B.J. Guerra (MCL sprain) have "a shot" to return as well.

"If we could get two of those guys back, or all three, that would be huge," said Wulff.

Wulff said C Kenny Alfred (knee laceration) is likely to be good to go for Cal, as should MLB Alex Hoffman-Ellis (staph infection). DT Bernard Wolfgramm (hip) also might be healed up in time. Meanwhile, Daniel Simmons broke his fibula and is done for the year.

"He's been playing as our best corner as a freshman," said Wulff. "With he and LeAndre Daniels (out for year) who was playing very well as a redshirt freshman as a safety, that's two big blows for us. And Tyree Toomer who we redshirted this year (torn pectoral muscle), it just thins us. But those guys will be back...those are some good young players. We're looking forward to watching those guys grow up."

WULFF SAID HE will send seven coaches, the maximum allowable by the NCAA, out on the recruiting trail after Wednesday's morning practice to canvass the Western States. The 2010 class has 14 known verbal commitments and while Wulff can't comment on individuals, he did offer some general comments.

"We're getting some awfully, awfully good football players, that's all I can tell you," said Wulff. "...We're also going to get a verbal from somebody next week, I can't say who, but I feel good about it," said Wulff.

Wulff has consistently trumpeted the 2009 class, his first having a full year at WSU to recruit, but said the '10 crop has a chance to be even better.

"This (class) has a chance to be one of the best that's been here," Wulff said.

TAPE STUDY OF ASU showed good things in two of the three areas -- offense, defense and special teams -- said Wulff.

Wulff said there were a few lapses that led to ASU's three longer scoring drives but apart from that, the defense did a "pretty darned good job."

Wulff singled out the d-line, including the play of three freshmen -- Travis Long, Dan Spitz and Anthony Laurenzi -- along with linebacker Louis Bland, Terrance Hayward and, before he was injured, Daniel Simmons.

Hayward, still only 17 years old as a redshirt frosh, is a likely candidate to replace Simmons though things could change over the next two weeks depending on how practice plays out.

WULFF ALSO SAID the tape showed solid play in kickoff and punt return coverage -- and the kickoff return stood out.

"We actually probably had the best kick return blocking that we've had all year," said Wulff. "..Offensively, our protection broke down and we got manhandled up front...and when we did have a little bit of protection our quarterbacks just didn't have the confidence to keep their eyes downfield."

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