PULLMAN -The Cougs took Rogers Field on Monday night for a short, spirited shoulder pads and helmets-only session, and CF.C turned the mic on Paul Wulff plus seniors Chantz Staden and Kevin Kooyman. And before Cougar Nation, as well as the players and coaches, put Week 1 in the rear view mirror for good, they had something to say about it. And one spoke directly to Cougar Nation.
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When Cougar fans daydreamed about the season, it’s a pretty fair bet they didn’t see things like the 65-17 outcome from Stillwater on Saturday. After all, the words “significant improvement” have been surrounding the Cougars, delivered by head man Paul Wulff, since the
end of the 2009 campaign.
The third year coach remained steadfast in his belief on Monday night that change is on the way. It might sound strange to say it after a lopsided loss, but there were things the Cougars did on Saturday that they haven’t done or been capable of for the past two years. And changing things up where it matters most, on the scoreboard, is not far off, he said.
"I think we're all a little mad," Wuff said. "You go watch the football film and there are a lot of good things we can take out of it and there's a lot of things were not far from cleaning up, that are fixable. That's the thing that this year more than any year, we actually have things we can fix, and we will fix them."
Chantz Staden, who ripped off 40 yards on just three carries on Saturday, said the Cougar locker room was an angry one.
"Obviously we're majorly disappointed," Staden said. "We worked our butts off since January and to go out there and have the result we had, it was very disappointing. But we know this is not the same team as last year. It was the first game, we were in Stillwater, we had around 25 players play for the first time. We have a bunch of stuff like that that's going to work in our favor and from here on out, we're just going to get better."
THE LOSS, according to Staden, could well be a blessing in disguise as the young Cougar squad continues to gain experience and maturity.
"In the long run I think it's going to be the best thing for us because the taste we had after the loss, none of us want to feel that again," Staden said. "It's just the last kick in the butt we needed to get our stuff together. We just need to bounce back by forgetting about it and wanting to get back out there and prove all the critics wrong."
TURNING TO THE action on the football field, the d-line, which did a far better job on the line of scrimmage than the final score might have indicated on Saturday, brought out some passion and intensity on Monday.
Kevin Kooyman said that although the line certainly had their moments, they ultimately didn't do their job in containing OSU RB Kendall Hunter.
"He's just a great player all the way around," Kooyman said of Hunter. “I think we underrated him, but I also feel like we made him look better than he really is.
“We definitely had opportunities to get him down but he had around 160 yards rushing after first contact so those are just missed tackles. He's a great player, but we helped him more than we should have."
The Cougs’ Monday position drills with the first team offense and defense matched up mostly against the scout teams. The two units did match up against one another during the team's 7-on-7 skeleton drill and WR Marquess Wilson remained on fire following his 100-yard performance on Saturday.
Wilson had the play of the night, hauling in a 45 yard bomb from QB Jeff Tuel with CB Damonte Horton in coverage. The two true freshmen leaped high into the air after the pigskin, but Wilson soared a good foot over Horton and hauled down the impressive catch. During Saturday’s loss, Wilson had two monster grabs including his first collegiate TD on a 46 yard catch.
"Well, you know, he made some great plays, but he also missed some blocks," Wulff said of Wilson's debut. "It didn't surprise me in many ways in what he did. He's very capable of making those types of plays but it was fun to see and exciting to see. He's going to grow and get better.”
FELLOW WR Gino Simone was a full participant during practice on Monday night, after being a late scratch Saturday with a lingering hamstring injury. WR Jared Karstetter was a spectator on Monday after suffering a concussion against OSU.
The Cougs return to full contact Tuesday afternoon as they gear up for Montana State. MSU is an FCS team but so is Jacksonville State, and they shocked Ole Miss this past Saturday. Wulff was adamant that the Cougs will not overlook their opponent and getting the victory on Saturday begins with themselves.
"We need to continue to get better, it doesn't matter who we play, we need to focus on ourselves and chase a high level of execution and performance and improvement," Wulff said. "Our focus has really got to be on us.
Kooyman was asked if he had any message he wanted to deliver to Cougar Nation.
"Just keep believing, because we do," Kooyman said . "The past is the past, we can't change anything about it. There's still opportunities for us to have a great year, it was just one game. And keep your heads up."