Is there cause for optimism on Saturday?

PAUL WULFF on Thursday afternoon set the probable offensive line starters left to right for Arizona State on Saturday -- Vaughn Lesuma, Steven Ayers, Kenny Alfred, B.J. Guerra and Micah Hannam. There's been "a little bit" more stability on the offensive line the last two weeks, said Wulff, and if the o-line, and the Cougs, take another step forward this Saturday, then...

More stability on the o-line of late?:
"A little bit. I think Vaughn (Lesuma) has picked up his play the last two weeks. Steven Ayers and (Andrew) Roxas have kind of gone back and forth with inconsistency. B.J. (Guerra) is just kind of coming into his own and he's doing a nice job. I really think B.J.'s got a big upside (over the course of) his career. And then Micah (Hannam) has been battling a shoulder injury..he's real tough, he's been battling it all season. And then of course Kenny (Alfred) at center has been solid. We feel like there's some flickering here that's going on the (proverbial light bulb) on the offensive line, we need that to keep going," said Wulff.

Practice week grade:
"It's been good. Tuesday and Wednesday have both been pretty solid practices and we feel like we've turned a corner in terms of we're practicing better and we're practicing more consistent than we have all year the last two weeks...particularly with young guys," said Wulff.

Reasons for more optimism:
Wulff agreed he's more optimistic about the Cougs chances heading into this game, though he also made a point to state ASU is better than their 3-6 record. "But I do believe if we just take (that) step as a football team from our last game, then we've got a chance..to be in the ballgame," said Wulff.

Injury update:
TE Devin Frischknecht (ankle) barring something unforeseen "definitely will play". RB Chris Ivory suffered a setback, re-straining his hamstring this week. He is out this week. Myron Beck (hand) is out for ASU -- Once the swelling goes down, it looks promising for Beck to have it casted and return for the Apple Cup. DE Andy Mattingly (ankle) is questionable. Snapper Zach Enyeart (shoulder) looks to be ready to go. Chris Prummer is the backup snapper. DE Kevin Kooyman (stinger) looks probable, CB Tyrone Justin (ankle) is looking doubtful for ASU.

Offensive carryover?:
"There's definitely some signs of improvement, a little bit by the offensive line, a little bit by the quarterback play. Kevin (Lopina), experience wise, is like a redshirt freshman, this is his first year playing college football...you can see him develop as a player particularly the last two weeks...he managed the game better than we've had at quarterback through this season--Marshall (Lobbestael) showed signs of that when he had an opportunity as well," said Wulff.

It's about the lines:
"It's not the pretty thing to focus on but it's just the truth -- if you can't be successful up front on defense and offense, you're just not going to be real successful in the long run. You've got to have consistent play at those positions. It starts there," said Wulff.

Wulff's take on running backs Dwight Tardy and Logwone Mitz this week:
"Dwight's done a good job, he's back (from injury) and running pretty good. Logwone has been slowed by a shoulder injury but we envision him playing, he practiced (Wednesday) a minimal amount. Logwone is a freshman and he's growing as we speak and getting better as the season moves along," said Wulff.

Quick hits:
  • Wulff said Tardy and Kooyman would probably start. He was noncommittal on whether the Cougs would go back to their base 4-man front. "That's what we would like to do," said Wulff.

  • The Cougs practiced in the IPF the first two days, preparing for warmer conditions in Tempe but were back outdoors on Thursday.

  • Wulff lauded Xavier Hicks' mentoring of a young secondary this season. "He didn't play as well as he's capable this last week but has played pretty solid (this year) throughout," Wulff added.

  • Wulff said Ayers likely projects as a guard for next year given his abilities, provided development at the tackle spot goes according to plan.

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