Cougars quite happy to be so healthy
Washington State comes out of USC game with no major injuries.
PULLMAN — In a football season in which victories have been tough to come by, Washington State coach Paul Wulff unearthed one this weekend.
"As a coach, it was so painful for us the last two years," Wulff said Sunday, "with injury after injury, with multiple ones every game almost.
"To be able to go another game without the serious-in-nature injuries, against a physical football team like USC, I know people on the outside don't look at this, but that's a good thing. That's a victory for us."
The Cougars, who dropped to 1-3 after the 50-16 Pac-10-opening defeat against Southern California, did have a couple of minor injuries — receiver Jeffery Solomon and offensive guard B.J. Guerra both bruised their knees — but did not lose a player for the second consecutive week.
"You can kind of tell our size and strength is improving enough to where we are not facing these kind of injuries often," Wulff said. "That's a good thing, that's a step."
Injuries aside, the film of the defeat Saturday didn't improve with age.
The Cougars still missed tackles — 32 by Wulff's count — and still missed offensive opportunities.
"We played probably our worst game in the sense of our ability to be extremely aggressive and make physical tackles," Wulff said. "The tackles we did make a lot of times were arm tackles. We didn't really get our bodies on them and get them down."
Wulff admitted the linebacking corps played "very poor. Just didn't play very well at all."
He cited Alex Hoffman-Ellis as having a few bright spots, and a few not-so-bright spots. "Other than that," Wulff said, "we've got to do a better job."
Asked if there were any changes contemplated, Wulff said, "We were talking about all that and it's kind of one of those things where it's a work in progress."
That might be the case at strong safety, where senior Chima Nwachukwu was replaced after two series by freshman Deone Bucannon.
Bucannon came up with an interception and led WSU with eight tackles, but also was burned twice for touchdowns in man coverage.
The running game never got going, with the Cougars averaging 3.6 yards on their 23 running attempts.
"It was kind of a combination of a few things," Wulff said, saying at times the offensive line was too high and other times the back didn't hit the right hole.
Washington State will travel to UCLA (2-2, 0-1) Saturday.
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.