THE HEADLINE MAKER from Paul Wulff's Tuesday press conference was the expulsion of Andy Roof by a student conduct board, but there were plenty of other nuggets as well. Among them: Wulff is comfortable with the d-line's maturity, several running backs might see the field Saturday, his thoughts on the Qwest game and more.
Dwight Tardy is the Cougars' starting running back but Wulff said with he and Chris Ivory, the former coming back off an ACL and the latter missing some time with bumps and bruises, neither is probably yet ready to carry the load as a featured back. "I think that they're limited because they're not in the shape or prepared to be able to carry the ball 15 or even 20 times a game...You'll see two or three (running backs) playing, at least."
Wulff said Daniel Blackledge may suit up on Saturday but is probably a week or two away from being able to perform at his customary high level.
Wulff said that Vaughn Lesuma is very questionable for Oklahoma State due to a back issue.
The position Wulff said he feels most comfortable with headed into the opener is at the linebacker spot. But he also said he feels good about the defensive line position from a maturity standpoint, even with Andy Roof now gone. The starting d-tackles are Fevaea'i Ahmu, with Matt Eichelberger, with Adam Hineline, Toby Turpin and Bernard Wolfgramm providing the depth.
Wulff said the WSU program is "a lot better" now than when he was a Cougar player. "The university as a whole has really established itself as a great institution, the facilities have grown dramatically, the number of fans and people with a great passion about this place has more than doubled, in terms of their intensity..and about being loyal Cougars...and to look at all the facilities improvements and the ones that are on the horizon in the next year and a half, there's a lot to be excited about."
Wulff said he spoke with coaches Mike Price and Dennis Erickson recently but not necessarily to seek advice. "I don't think there's a magical formula to this place..for the people that end up coming here, they love it. For the people that come and visit, they fall in love with it. It's just a matter of getting people here. But no, I didn't necessarily pick their brains."
Wulff said the Cougs didn't have a speedy Zac Robinson-type of quarterback on the scout team they could have double to try and recreate in practice what the Cougar D will see on Saturday. "Unless he can come up and take some reps for us in practice," Wulff quipped.
Wulff said he wasn't a big fan of the Seattle game the last few years but now that he's on the inside of the program, he sees a number of positives associated with it, including connecting with the Cougar alums on the Westside of the state and the exposure to Westside recruits.
As of early yesterday, 31,936 tickets had been sold to the WSU-Oklahoma State game, the ticket office reports. That compares with 28,646 on the Monday prior to last season's Qwest game against San Diego State. Student tickets will account for another 6,000 seats, while tickets for players' families and others connected to the school will total close to 3,000. The walk-up crowd should nudge the final tally past 50,000. The hoped-for attendance of 55,000 to 60,000 appears out of reach.
Wulff said the four freshman listed as first or second string on the depth chart -- WR Jared Karstetter, SS Tyree Toomer, MLB Mike Ledgerwood WR Kevin Norrell -- is mostly due to a lack of depth but also in part due to their performance. "We are pleased with those four kids and how they've performed...But ultimately we want to get to a point where we don't have to play guys because of depth. We're playing them because of both reasons."
Wulff said he had met Mike Gundy at a coach's convention and that he "seemed like a pretty good guy." Wulff sounded bemused more than anything else regarding the Gundy press conference last season where the OSU coach gained national attention for his outburst over a newspaper reporter's article. "Personally I laugh at the kind of stuff..they're not harming anybody and I think it obviously creates entertainment, it certainly has for the past year."
"I actually woke up this morning and had about a 3-second flash of excitement in my gut that definitely stood out, that okay, we're finally here, and I'm anxious to get that (first game) benchmark of where we're at. Let's go out and play and take it from there. I'm starting to get a good felling about how it's time for that first test. And then we'll make our corrections and move forward after that," said Wulff.