Visions of 2008 OSU game resonate with Wulff

OREGON STATE QB Sean Canfield, then the backup and with time winding down and the game well in hand, threw for a 39-yard fourth-quarter score in last year's WSU-OSU game. Paul Wulff was asked about his thoughts on that today, and he updated the status of several injured Cougars. Plus, he gives his thought on his job security.

WSU CO-DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Chris Ball made his weekly appearance on a Seattle radio show earlier this week and said the coaching staff had been informed that it will be retained for a third season. The Cougars have a 3-20 record under Wulff.

"We've had nothing but 100 percent support from everyone here," Wulff said. "We talk about that and they know we're doing all the right things. We have something special brewing. People around the program see that."

IT WAS AN anomaly among Washington State's many blowout losses last season.

The Cougars lost 66-13 last year at Oregon State, but only trailed by 11 at halftime.

There were a couple of events that resonated from that game for WSU's football team. Quarterback Marshall Lobbestael sustained a season-ending left knee injury on a sack. And with a 59-13 lead, backup quarterback Sean Canfield threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Damola Adeniji with 7:35 minutes left.

"I think we all remember things that happened to us that we don't feel are right," WSU coach Paul Wulff said during his Thursday teleconference. "But I'm not going to harbor that forever."

Last year after the game, the media questioned Oregon State coach Mike Riley about the perception of if it was poor sportsmanship and running up the score. Riley said, "I feel bad that they feel bad about it. From the bottom of my heart, I did not do anything to try and disrespect that team."

LITTLE HAS CHANGED in the standings from a year ago. The Cougars (1-9 overall, 0-7 conference) will not advance to a bowl for a sixth consecutive season. The program has not gone that long without a bowl appearance since 1982-87.

WSU, which plays the No. 20 Beavers (7-3, 5-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday, leads the overall series 47-43-3. But OSU has fared better of late -- they're bowl eligible for a school-best fourth straight season.

Wulff mentioned the Rodgers brothers frequently during his Tuesday teleconference, saying that he felt they are "80 percent" of the Beavers' offense. Sophomore Jacquizz Rodgers has rushed for 1,148 yards and 17 touchdowns on 215 carries. Junior WR James Rodgers, who also is 5 foot 7, has 832 yards and eight touchdowns on 71 receptions.

But James Rodgers is also prominent in the run game -- he's rushed for 1,280 yards in his three years on what the Beavs call the "fly sweep" where the wide receiver comes in motion.

Wulff also was complimentary of Canfield, a senior, mentioning him along with Washington's Jake Locker among the conference's top quarterbacks.

"He's played really well," he said. "That's been a difference for them this week to throw the ball effectively."

Canfield, who replaced last year's starter, senior Lyle Moevao, has completed 238 of 341 passes for 2,566 yards and 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Beavers rank 24th among 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams with an average of 271.3 passing yards per game.

THE COUGARS WILL counter with senior quarterback Kevin Lopina, who started the first two games of the season before being replaced by Lobbestael. True freshman Jeff Tuel eventually won the job, but will miss a second consecutive game since suffering a subluxed right kneecap Nov. 7 at Arizona.

"He's not cleared for this week," Wulff said. "We're hoping he will feel a lot better by the beginning of next week."

After Lobbestael opened last week's 43-7 loss against UCLA with interceptions on WSU's opening three possessions, Lopina saw his first playing time since he started Sept. 12 in a 38-20 loss against Hawaii at Qwest Field. He completed 7 of 14 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown against the Bruins.

"He's healthy now and he feels good," Wulff said. "He came into the game and gave us a spark. He's a guy we feel can give us the best shot right now. We'll go with Kevin and see where it runs."

Lopina, who earlier this season was sidelined with a calf injury that has hindered him throughout his collegiate career, has completed 35 of 62 passes for 435 yards and a pair of touchdowns and interceptions this season.

WULFF HAS BEEN mum about the status of senior linebacker Jason Stripling, who was arrested by the Pullman Police Department early Sunday morning and charged with fourth-degree assault and obstructing a public servant, according to the police report.

Stripling initially was suspended by Wulff for the first quarter of the OSU game before Wulff increased it to the entire game. Wulff also was unclear today if Stripling will play in the Nov. 28 Apple Cup at Husky Stadium. Stripling has started every game this season.

"I can't answer that one right now," he said.

Myron Beck, a junior who has rotated between safety and linebacker in his two seasons with the Cougars, will take Stripling's place, said Wulff.

Junior defensive tackle Toby Turpin also was suspended for the final two games of the year earlier this week for undisclosed reasons. And the player he rotates with, redshirt freshman Dan Spitz, is out with a concussion. In addition to those two players, junior Bernard Wolfgramm remains a game-time decision because of lingering back issues. If he can play, Wolfgramm will start alongside redshirt freshman Anthony Laurenzi. If not, it was unclear who might start opposite Laurenzi or if the Cougars might go to a three-man front.

ON THE OFFENSIVE side, senior tight end Tony Thompson (concussion) has not been cleared to play, according to Wulff. He said senior Zach Tatman will start in his place.

Wulff said junior kicker Nico Grasu aggravated his injured quadriceps muscle during Wednesday's practice, which means senior Patrick Rooney will handle all aspects of the kicking game again. Wulff said Rooney has a strong leg and "has become a lot more consistent" now that he receives the bulk of kicking practice time.

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