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Originally published October 16, 2011 at 7:29 PM | Page modified October 16, 2011 at 7:46 PM

After six games, Washington State offense grades out best

Washington State football coach Paul Wulff wasn't happy with his team's performance Saturday night against seventh-ranked Stanford. But he wasn't about to let it color his thinking about the first half of the Cougars' season.

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PULLMAN — Washington State football coach Paul Wulff wasn't happy with his team's performance Saturday night against seventh-ranked Stanford.

But he wasn't about to let it color his thinking about the first half of the Cougars' season. Well, not too much.

Asked to give out grades for WSU's first six games, Wulff went through the performances of his offense, defense and special teams analytically, only occasionally mentioning the 44-14 loss that dropped WSU to 3-3, 1-2 in Pac-12 play.

Wulff gave his highest grade to the offense, a B-plus, pointing out the Cougars entered the Stanford game second in the Pac-12 in total offense.

"This game really knocked us down, because it was clearly our worst performance from an execution standpoint," Wulff said, and he was right. After being held to 257 yards, the WSU offense dropped to fourth in the league, averaging 453.33 yards.

The special teams earned a B-minus or C-plus, Wulff said, though he wasn't happy the Cardinal's Ty Montgomery returned the last play of Saturday's game 96 yards for a score.

"We have had a few special-teams miscues," he said. "The last one was maybe a little bit of lack of intensity. There is 15 seconds left in the game, and we go down there and miss a tackle. Make a tackle and it's taken care of."

But the Cougars are second in the Pac-12 in net punting (averaging 38.52 yards) and third in kickoff returns (25.63), so Wulff's grades might be a bit low, considering WSU had to replace its punter, long snapper and kickoff specialist this season.

The defense, which was pushed around a bit in the second half against the Cardinal, still earned a B-minus from Wulff.

"They've gotten better and better," he said.

The Cougars were without two players Saturday who have started at defensive end — Adam Coerper and Lenard Williams — along with starting linebacker Sekope Kaufusi. But Wulff said WSU came out of the game with no more than bumps and bruises.

The news wasn't so good on the offensive side.

Senior right tackle Wade Jacobson, out the past two weeks with a back injury, is still weighing treatment options, including surgery.

Quarterback Jeff Tuel returned against the Cardinal, and Wulff reiterated that though he was rusty after missing time with a broken collarbone and played like it at times, the other 10 members of the offense didn't help much.

"Jeff just needs to get back in the flow," Wulff said. "In defense of Jeff, he comes off an injury and we throw him out in a game against the best defense in the conference.

"Will Marshall (Lobbestael) play? I'm sure Marshall will have opportunities to continue to play, (but) we have no plan on how that is going to play out. We will do it as a need-based situation."

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