IF JEFF TUEL’s performance on the field this season matches his Q&A skills, the Cougars are in for a very big year. The junior quarterback from Fresno is friendly, funny and genuine. But best of all, he’s informative, providing entertaining insights on offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy, the nasty truth about Travis Long, the best burger in town, and much more.
Last week he took time to answer a few questions from me -- a 13-year-old Cougar fan -- as part of a semi-regular column that asks WSU players the questions adults might not think to ask.
1. I’ve heard Coach Sturdy is known to yell sometimes. What’s the most entertaining thing you’ve heard him holler in practice or a game?
He likes to yell but usually at a good time … I’d say the most entertaining thing he’s ever done came when there was a long run play in practice and we scored on it and Coach Sturdy came sprinting down the field 50 yards and jumped on one of the linemen’s backs and then slipped and landed on his back -- and he was hollering and screaming in excitement while he was laying on the ground.
2. This next one is a question Cougfan.com always likes to ask quarterbacks. There’s 5 seconds left in the Apple Cup and we’re down by 5 with the ball on the Husky 10. Who do you want at QB for the Cougars -- Brink, Gesser, Leaf or Bledsoe?
Oh man. Boy, that’s tough. I’m gonna go with Bledsoe just because he had some good luck in the Apple Cup with that throw in the back of the end zone in the snow. And he had a pretty successful career so I’ll give the ball to him.
3. What do you think Ryan Leaf will think of that answer?
(Chuckle). He’ll probably give me some crap about it. He probably won’t be too happy. But giving the ball to a guy like Bledsoe has to be understandable.
4. Where can you find the best food in Pullman?
I really like Cougar Country and LocoGrinz. Those are my two favorite ... At Cougar Country I get a double-bacon-cheeseburger and if I’m feeling really hungry I’ll get a Butterfinger shake with it. And at LocoGrinz I like to get the barbeque beef tips.
5. Who would win a 100-yard dash between B.J. Guerra (321 pounds) and Wade Jacobson (306 pounds)?
(Laugh). Shoot, I don’t know. That’s a good race. I’ll go with Wade because he used to be really skinny and play baseball. He’s a little taller so he probably has a longer stride. In the 40, I think I’d go with B.J. but in the 100-yard-dash I’ll give it to Wade.
6. How did you decide to become a Cougar, and who else offered you scholarships?
I chose Wazzu because of the people at the university. The coaches were really friendly, really nice and seemed like straight forward guys. I had a good connection and relationship with them. And I liked the chance to play early ... I had offers from Nevada, Fresno State, Hawaii -- and that might have been it.
7. In that exciting game at UCLA last year, the refs reversed a TD and said your knee was down before you crossed the end zone. What did you think?
I knew it was close. It was a tough angle. I thought I was in, I thought I got stretched out there. I’ve seen pictures and it looks like I was short, which was really, really frustrating. I thought I was in at the time.
8. What Pac-12 defender do you least want to see standing across from you in a game?
Vontez Burfict, middle linebacker from ASU. I know him somewhat -- I’ve talked with him before and played him in high school. He’s an intimidating dude.
9. What Cougar defender would you definitely not want to see lining up across from you as an opponent?
I’ll say Travis Long. He’s nasty, man. He’s physical, and he’s really fast -- faster than most d-ends. He’s tough to run away from. And he’s pretty dirty, too, which is good. He’s tough to get away from.
10. What NFL quarterback do you think your game is most like?
(long pause) I’ll say Mark Sanchez. He’s pretty mobile and can move around and not a lot of guys can do that … There’s not many mobile quarterbacks like that in the NFL. And also, watching Hard Knocks, I think we have similar personalities, and like to have fun and goof around.
11. When you break the huddle in a game and start walking up to the line of scrimmage, what’s going through your head?
I’m looking at the defense to see what they’re doing, trying to figure out what coverage they’re going to be in and compare it to the play we have called and then try to evaluate what’s going to work and decide whether to make a change. There’s a lot of excitement, too It’s fun, exciting.
12. You and Jake Locker spoke to each other last year at the end of the Apple Cup. What all did you guys talk about?
I just told him best of luck in the future, whatever he decided to do whether it was football or baseball. He just told me the same -- best of luck, and said I played a great game. It was real brief, real quick.
13. Where’s the toughest place to play in the Pac-12?
The hardest place I’ve played at is Oregon, for sure, just because it’s so loud. It’s real tough to communicate to the linemen and so forth.
14. What was your favorite team when you were growing up?
I was a Florida Gator fan, because my parents went there and my uncle played for ‘em. We used to watch all the games. I had t-shirts and all that kind of stuff.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ryan Witter is a 7th grader from Seattle and lifelong Cougar fan whose dad co-founded Cougfan.com two months after he was born. Ryan is a top-notch student as well as a three-sport athlete playing baseball, basketball and soccer.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK: 12 Youthful Questions for Marquess Wilson.