A closer look at Coug TEs, redshirts

AARON DUNN

THE USE OF tight ends -- or lack thereof -- is a common discussion on the CF.C message boards. Paul Wulff said Thursday that he hears about it frequently and has a simple explanation as to why the Cougars, who play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Oregon State at CenturyLink Field (TV: Root Sports), have not utilized that position in the passing game. Wulff also weighed in on some of the redshirts..

Wulff said WSU (3-3 overall, 1-2 Pac-12) had to be careful during the first half of the season because junior Andrei Lintz, who has one reception for 23 yards, was its only healthy tight end. He said using Lintz more frequently would have made his susceptible to an injury.

Aaron Dunn, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound redshirt freshman from Mead High School in Spokane, has been sidelined much of this season with a quadriceps injury. But Wulff, who hopes he is ready to play this weekend, said he remains excited about Dunn's potential.

"He's very smart, so he rarely makes mental mistakes," he said. "He's a big athletic kid. He's someone he can trust to do the right things.

"The offseason will be huge for him to take his game to another level. He's got enough raw talent to be a player down the road."

Wulff said the position will receive an infusion of depth next year when Max Hersey and Mansel Simmons come off redshirt seasons.

On the scout team, Wulff said he also has been impressed with offensive linemen Rico Forbes, a junior-college transfer, and freshmen Moritz Christ and Gunnar Eklund. Freshman wide receiver Dominique Williams has stood out, as well.

"He's done a lot of great things," Wulff said. "He could fit into our rotation right now."

Barring injury, Jeff Tuel is entrenched as the starter next season, but Wulff said the Cougs are in good shape with Connor Halliday and he also likes the development of freshman quarterback Cody Clements.

"Cody Clements has a lot of moxie in him," he said. "I like him."

ON THE DEFENSIVE SIDE, there has been speculation that junior Louis Bland, who has not played a down since 2009, might not play again because of reoccurring knee problems. Wulff did not dismiss that possibility, but he also said Bland could return in '12.

"Louis Bland is progressing very well with his rehab," he said.

Xavier Cooper, a 6-4, 268-pound freshman from Wilson High in Tacoma, could play either defensive end or tackle, Wulff said. Cooper was forced to redshirt this season as a partial NCAA qualifier.

"I feel like he would be a contributor right now if he didn't have to redshirt," Wulff said.

He said other redshirting freshmen who could contribute next season include defensive end Darryl Paulo, defensive tackle T.J. Poloai and linebacker Tana Pritchard. Wulff said a pair of Florida natives, linebacker Darryl Monroe and cornerback Spencer Waseem, also will be back in the rotation next season after suffering season-ending knee injuries in the Sept. 3 season opener against Idaho State. Both will qualify for medical redshirts.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Wulff said senior linebacker Alex-Hoffman Ellis (bereavement) is expected back at practice today. He said WSU has support systems in place for athletes who suffer a loss. Hoffman-Ellis was in Los Angeles for his grandmother's funeral Wednesday.

  • As previously reported by CF.C, Tuel has looked sharper in his first full week back at practice since suffering a broken left clavicle against ISU. Wulff agreed.

    "He's definitely a lot sharper," he said. "He's feeling better in that regard."

  • Wulff said he expects junior Lenard Williams to start at defensive end opposite of Travis Long. But he also expects junior Adam Coerper, who has been sidelined since Sept. 17 at San Diego State because of a knee injury, to play. Wulff said having both Coerper and Williams, who was sidelined Saturday against Stanford with a neck injury, will allow the Cougars more flexibility with their defensive schemes.

  • In other injury-related news, Wulff said senior offensive lineman Wade Jacobson is visiting a physician at Stanford to get an opinion on treatment for his ailing back. Wulff said Jacobson will get another opinion, as well. He said it is likely that Jacobson will undergo surgery and apply to receive a medical redshirt. Jacobson started the first four games of the season. Junior Dan Spitz is expected to start at right tackle for the third consecutive week.

    Sophomore Leon Brooks, who has been sidelined since Oct. 1 against Colorado with a sprained shoulder, is expected to return punts this week. Wulff said he also expects Henry Eaddy, who suffered a concussion Saturday, to be cleared. Junior Gino Simone also can return punts.

  • Former WSU athletic director Jim Sterk discussed the possibility of playing the Apple Cup in Seattle, but Wulff said the prospect of playing a different Pac-12 opponent at CenturyLink did not start until Bill Moos was hired last year. Wulff said playing Oregon and OSU in Seattle makes more sense than other conference teams.

    "You always want to have a home-field advantage when you have a home game," he said. "When the Oregon schools come to Pullman, I don't know if you get as much as a home-field advantage as some of the other schools."

    WSU will play the Ducks in Seattle next year. Some have expressed concern that Oregon fans might pack CenturyLink.

    "That's up to the Cougar fans to make sure they don't put 15,000 fans in there," Wulff said.

  • Wulff said the return of OSU true freshman running back Malcolm Agnew, who has 272 rushing yards in two games this season, is significant for the Beavers. Agnew played for the first time last week in a 38-28 loss against Brigham Young since suffering a hamstring injury in OSU's season opener.

    "Having him back to give them some balance will help their offense," said Wulff, adding that the Beavers have talent at wide receiver. "They've got quality players. Scoring has not been a big issue for him."

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