QB job to be won in games, not practice
ROGERS or LOPINA?
ROGERS or LOPINA?
Cougfan.com Correspondent
Posted Sep 9, 2008


PAUL WULFF SAID an announcement on the Cougs' starting QB isn't likely to come until kickoff on Saturday against Baylor. And ultimately, the starting QB is going to win the job in the games, not in practice. He also said that while the Cougars need more production at that spot, the lack of execution on offense extends beyond the quarterback.

Who will start at quarterback for the Cougars remains to be seen, but Baylor is going to need to prepare for both Gary Rogers and Kevin Lopina this week.

"We're going to probably go through the week of giving as many equal reps as we can. (We're) probably going to decide to make it a game time decision, unless something changes but I think we kind of want to push it as late as possible to make our decision," said Paul Wulff.

Later in the afternoon, Wulff said it wasn't certain equal practice reps would be how it played out in practice this week at QB. Wulff also went on to say it was probable both quarterbacks would play and ultimately, the Cougar QB is going to have to win the job in the games, not in practice.

THE QB IS the most visible position on the team, and he has a decided impact on the outcome. Still, the majority of the time, he gets too much credit for the wins and too much blame for the losses.

"There's no question -- this is not a one person issue with the lack of execution. So it is hard to pinpoint..it never is just one thing, it's a multitude of things, and that's really what we're dealing with here," said Wulff.

There don't figure to be wholesale changes across the board to the starting lineup -- though Wulff said the possibility exists at a few spots in addition the QB that he didn't specify. Although the QB isn't going to ultimately earn the job in practice, there are opportunities across the board this week -- and every week -- for the players who can help the team win.

"It's not like we're trying to flip everything upside down here. All we're trying to do is put the best kids out there that we feel can help us have success. If a backup player is really starting to pick up his game and develop and we see that, then we're going to give him an opportunity to play and prove that in a game... I think that's pretty true throughout the board on both sides of the ball and on our special teams. And that's how it is, it's not because of this game that everything is up for open positions, that's just not how we're approaching this particular week," said Wulff.

WULFF HAS SAID the staff is dedicated to coaching the players up and the more they can keep the same personnel on the field, the more consistent they will become. At the same time, there also is a point for no more excuses on things like lining up incorrectly and missed assignments.

"I think maybe you can put up with for a game with that individual, maybe two, but you really don't want to put with any of it...There comes a point where you've got to be able to string perfect plays together, all 11...We are as coaches, getting to a point where enough is enough," said Wulff.

Wulff noted he was not referring to players like Marcus Richmond here, someone who just recently moved from running back to receiver and is learning a whole new position.

WULFF, WHILE AT EWU played his depth, getting some of the youngsters and backups turns when it counted -- and both early and late in games. He's done the same thing at WSU his first two games.

And the sense of that might be even further heightened this week out on the practice field as guys battle for playing opportunities.

"...But we are trying to put the best players on the field and a lot of times over the years, and all coaches will attest to this, players will play reasonably well in practice but on game day..certain kids step up and play even better (than they practiced). We've got to give kids opportunities to see what kids on our team can do that. As coaches we don't know that yet, we're still so new to all these guys and we're just trying to figure out who we can trust and who's going to perform well on game day," said Wulff.

HAVING PLAYERS WHO "buy in" is important and Wulff said there hasn't been a lack of effort. He also said at this stage, however, that's not where the focus is for him.

"I'm not really worried about that. I think we have a plan and what we do is fundamentally right. We might not be executing things and so it might not look right (laugh) but we've just got to keep working on it. We're not going to waver. We're going to continue to do the things that we know it takes and I think the kids understand that," said Wulff.

WULFF SAID IN comparing the challenges at Washington State and Eastern Washington, the one at Wazzu is greater.

"I think we've got a lot of things here that need to be corrected in every aspect of the program," said Wulff. "We've got a lot of work in front of us, there's no question about it. You know, we're playing some youth so we've got a lot of things we can't execute correctly (or) consistently whatsoever. So our goal, we've got 13 games this year, and we've got 11 more to go. We've got a full season in front of us and there's a lot we can continue to do to work to get better.

"Obviously to be at a 1-AA program and to bring kids in and to build the program over time, you can get it done right. And at a fairly challenging place in regards to (EWU). Washington State is a place we can get back on track and be a very successful program. But the reality is it's going to take some time. That's just the way it works. If you look at any program that's built up -- and started to maintain a certain level of consistency and success -- there's a long process that goes in that. And that's probably where we're at right now."

NOTABLE NOTES AND QUOTES:
  • Wulff noted Greg Trent is one of the players the Cougs are getting consistent play from, he was Wazzu's player of the game against Oklahoma State. He also said the coaches are asking a lot of the senior linebacker out on the field.

  • Special teams showed improvement last week, said Wulff, with kickoff returns leading the way, though he said positives from the loss to Cal were few and far between.

  • "Quarterback isn't the only position we're trying to evaluate, we do have other spots. Our receiving corps is just getting healthy and they're just starting to go and that's going to take us another few weeks to get completely settled. And then the offensive line is the same situation, just getting some kind of consistency in our personnel so they can all learn to gel together, and we just haven't had that opportunity. And that's no one's fault, it's just been our circumstances so far," said Wulff.



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