PAUL WULFF, who generally is about as unflappable as they come, was actually fired up Saturday when asked to assess his team's tackling skills following the debacle against Oklahoma State. “We were horrible. We were absolutely terrible, and we worked on it all camp," said the disgusted head man.
"It seemed like we didn't get off the blocks very well all day, particularly the defensive line. Obviously, Kendall Hunter, you have to give him a lot of credit. He can make a lot of people look bad, but there were other missed tackles on the players, too," the coach added. "It was very poor tackling and we can’t have that on defense.”
Assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball took the blame, saying that in an effort to keep players healthy he cut back on some of the contact in fall camp.
Wulff offered up insight on more than just his defense.
“We came out the first play of the game and turned the ball over, and we're fragile enough and young enough we get in spells and things go against us and we didn't respond very well. I thought our kids played tight early for quite a while. We just didn't play. I think we wanted to really bad, and they really want to do great. The attitude is great. They didn't cut it loose. They played tentative. They played not to make mistakes.
“We had some balls dropped in the passing game. There were some missed throws. We just didn't execute well enough," he addded. "Defensively, we went up against a running back who is special. He set the tone for their whole offense and the tempo of the ball game. We couldn't adjust very well to their tempo early on. He dictated that ball game in several ways. I felt our special teams were very good other than the blocked punt at the very end.”
Asked about the psychology of believing you can win, Wulff said, "We’ve got to have success. We’ve got to have games where we come in and compete with somebody, and we’ve got to start winning some games. I think they believe in each other. We’ve finally got the trust factor, but we’ve got to get some games where we go in and compete and win, then we can build off some success. We ran into a very good football team. They’ve got excellent speed and size. Even their backups are great looking kids. I thought they were better than us today, period.”
On the speed difference between OSU and WSU, Wulff said, “I thought they looked faster in spots. I thought 24(Kendall Hunter) clearly looked a lot faster and stronger. There was a big size difference at the skill positions. Right now, our guys aren’t fully developed in spots. We’ve just got to keep lifting and getting them better. Six of our eight DB’s we brought for two deep were freshmen. They’ve got to get bigger and stronger, and they've got to tackle better.”
OTHER COMMENTS COMING OUT OF THE COUGAR LOCKERROOM SATURDAY INCLUDED...
Washington State freshman wide receiver Marquess Wilson on what went through his head when he caught his touchdown:
“Honestly it happened so fast, I caught the ball and took off and knew I had to get points on the board to get us closer to them on the scoreboard.”
Washington State senior kicker Nico Grasu on how he felt kicking a 56-yard field goal on his first kick of the game said, “I wasn’t quite expecting to be kicking a field goal that long on my first kick, but I approached it just like I would an extra point, stayed calm and made the 56 yarder.”
On what was going through his head on the failed fake field goal, he said, “We knew we wanted to get another score since we were only down a touchdown at that point, and the play set up nicely for us and we thought we had it. But the ref just spotted it at a different spot from where I thought I had gotten.”
Washington State junior defensive end Brandon Rankin said of the reaction on the sideline when Washington State fumbled on the opening play,
“We just brushed it off and looked to the next play and were looking to make plays. That’s what we do, stay in it and keep fighting.”
On how difficult it was dealing with Kendall Hunter, Rankin said, “He’s a good player, we just didn’t wrap him up and take him down like we’re supposed to. Too much shoulder tackling, but nothing we can’t work on and get better at.”