THE APPLE CUP: There's more at stake

DEFENSIVE TACKLE FEVAEA'I AHMU

THE APPLE CUP will determine which team finishes last and next to last in the Pac-10 but don't tell Paul Wulff the Apple Cup doesn't mean anything more than that. During his playing days at Washington State, he played in one Apple Cup not long after having his appendix removed. Because when it comes to the Apple Cup, Wulff says, there's more at stake. And is Gary Rogers hoping to come back in '09?

"I've had quite a few emails, phone calls and (good luck wishes). Coach Price left me a message that we should 'Go get 'em,' I've had quite a few people who call who truly understand the game," said Wulff.

Wulff said with about 48 hours to go before kickoff, he didn't think the Cougs were feeling anxious but rather building up the excitement level.

"I think we're good, I think our kids have had a couple pretty good days of practice," said Wulff.

IF YOU'RE LOOKING for a key ingredient to determine the outcome of the game, Wulff said how the Cougar defensive front plays against Washington's jumbo-sized o-line might be it.

Wulff said the Cougar defense must have more stops and not allow frequent, long drives or the oversized UW o-line will likely have the advantage in the late stages. "Their size will take over if we allow it to," said Wulff.

Kevin Lopina struggled with accuracy in his first practice back on Wednesday after being injured in the game at ASU but Wulff didn't seem overly concerned and felt he'd be right on Saturday.

"You know, he did okay, we've got to clean some things up today there's no question...but hopefully we can get that done, and he'll be ready to go," said Wulff.

WULFF SAID THAT Dwight Tardy is probably the Cougs' healthiest running back and projected starter but he also envisions Logwone Mitz getting turns, as well as Marcus Richmond. Wulff estimated Tardy at "80 to 90 percent is probably what he's playing at right now."

Tardy, though he played last week, is amongst a large group of Cougar players who have missed time recently, but who appear ready for Saturday. Some might not still be 100 percent but Mitz, Devin Frischknecht, Andy Mattingly, Tyrone Justin and others are all expected to play. Chris Ivory (hamstring) and Alfonso Jackson (stinger) are two notables not expected to strap on the pads.

ON THE SKIRMISH that broke out in yesterday's practice, Wulff said he was first concerned for the Cougs' ball boy who was out to replace the pigskin. When it was over and no one was hurt, he said he was pleased to see the fire come out.

"The good thing was they were all smiling when it was done...you need some of that. A lot of that stuff stays right there and you should be having some of that. There should be some guys who are a little sore and want to do something about it," said Wulff.

WULFF SAID the Cougs have tried to emphasize Brandon Gibson a number of times this season, but it's also backfired a number of times.

"He's had some drops that he's never made before, and he's had quite a few, but that's not like him. He's got good hands and he's never had that in his career. I think it's a direct reflection of having some frustration and maybe not 100 percent trust in everybody around him from a playing standpoint. And believe me, I've seen that happen, a lot... A lot of times they're...trying to do too much, which I think he's tried to do at times, and he ends up hurting himself because he's trying to do more," said Wulff.

Wulff, not surprisingly, also said the Cougs will continue to make Gibson one of the main focal points on offense these last two games.

"Regardless of our season (record), he did make the best decision to come back and to better himself, get a year older and lift a year to get more mature in the game of football. I think ultimately he clearly made the right decision for him and his future," said Wulff.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • WSU Sports Information said as of yesterday 1,700 tickets remained for the Apple Cup.

  • Gary Rogers on KJR said Wednesday night he has begun looking into the possibility of petitioning the NCAA to regain a year of eligibility. It might be a tall task. With either a medical redshirt or waiver, precedent has been the player misses most or all of two years to injury or has not redshirted in order to get back a year of eligibility. After a season starts and an injury or illness occurs keeps an athlete out of competition up to three games or 30 percent of the season played, a hardship waiver can be requested though it usually comes on a player who hasn't redshirted as Rogers has. Rogers was injured in the fourth game of this year and with a 13 game season, four games averages out to 31 percent of the season. "I heard that. I haven't talked to Gary about that. If he so chooses to want to pursue that, then we're behind that at this point. But we'll see how that goes."

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