Wulff reflects on Cougs' departing seniors

ALEX HOFFMAN-ELLIS

WASHINGTON STATE COACH Paul Wulff rarely has talked about experience in the program -- mostly because his teams have featured little of it. But with the home finale at 2 p.m. Saturday quickly approaching, Wulff spent some time Thursday discussing this year's senior class.

The 2007 recruiting class, the final one signed by former WSU coach Bill Doba, has just four fifth-year seniors: offensive linemen B.J. Guerra and Andrew Roxas, quarterback Marshall Lobbestael and running back Logwone Mitz.

There also are a couple of fourth-year seniors, wide receiver Jared Karstetter and linebacker Mike Ledgerwood, in addition to a few junior-college transfers, notably linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis. Wulff said Hoffman-Ellis "was completely under the radar" when he signed. Hoffman-Ellis played just one year of high-school football and another at Moorpark College in California before signing with Wulff in 2008. He redshirted that season and then became a three-year starter. Hoffman-Ellis has a team-high 72 tackles this season.

"He has all of the physical traits you would like," Wulff said. "He developed into a leader. He's really a quality story."

Wulff had similar praise for Karstetter. The 6-foot-4, 213-pound from Ferris High School last month was named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, one of 16 nationally to be recognized with a $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. He also garnered Pac-10 All-Academic first-team honors in 2010.

Karstetter has 507 yards and four touchdowns on 45 receptions this season.

"He's a winner in everything he does," Wulff said. "He's so consistent. I couldn't ask for anyone stronger mentally."

Wulff also praised Lobbestael, who completed 179 of 299 passes for 2,240 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions this year. He started seven games, but will be replaced Saturday by redshirt freshman Connor Halliday.

"Marshall is such a team player," Wulff said. "He has a lot of passion for the game. He takes a lot of pride in friends and friendships he has."

He praised the rest of the senior class, as well. The Cougars (4-6 overall, 2-5 Pac-12) have an opportunity to become bowl eligible if they win their final two games. In Wulff's first three seasons at WSU, the team had a 5-32 record.

"They've worked really hard," he said. "They've had a great year in the weight room and have laid a great foundation. I couldn't be prouder of these guys."

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Wulff said he often can gauge how effective his team will play Saturdays by their performance in practice. But that has not always been the case this season. The Cougars reportedly practiced well leading up to their 30-7 loss Nov. 5 at California.

    "I think you do if you have a veteran team that's been around awhile," said Wulff, when asked how practices translate to game day. "I think that's shown up a bit this year with our youth. It's not as consistent as we would like it to be."

  • WSU has several players with minor injuries. Among the key ones is sophomore wide receiver Marquess Wilson (hip). Wulff said he expects Wilson to practice on a limited basis today.

    "By Saturday, I do believe he will be ready to go," he said.

    Sophomore Deone Bucannon (ankle) is questionable for Saturday, Wulff said. He added that the Bucannon will be in the school's HydroWorx, which is a therapeutic pool, today.

    Defensive end Lenard Williams (knee) and long snapper Zach Koepp (concussion) are out. Wulff expects Adam Coerper to start in Williams' place. Coerper started twice in September before suffering a knee injury. He said junior quarterback Jeff Tuel (left clavicle) will not play again this year.

  • Games at Martin Stadium on the Saturday before Thanksgiving traditionally have not drawn well. The Cougars are 3-1 this year at Martin Stadium. Utah (6-4, 3-4) has only won one conference road game, 34-21, Nov. 5 at Arizona. The Wildcats (2-8, 1-7) are in last place in the Pac-12 South Division.

    "Our students have been great," said Wulff, adding that he hopes many will stick around for the game before heading home. "The things that great fans do (by creating noise) are generally issues for the opposing teams offense. If we can get that help from our crowd, it really will help our football team."

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