Players need to learn to fight through adversity better, Wulff says; QB talks accountability.
PULLMAN — After being outscored a combined 169-0 over the past 10 quarters, Washington State is doing a little soul-searching this week.
“We’re all frustrated, and I wouldn’t expect anything different,” coach Paul Wulff said. “We should be.”
“If you don’t want to be here and be part of the team and are going to hold people down, then you shouldn’t be here,” quarterback Kevin Lopina said after practice Tuesday. “It’s not a big problem, but there’s just kind of an aura in the locker room after losses like, ‘Wow! That just happened again.’ “
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Added linebacker Greg Trent: “We’ve got to get everybody who’s holding us back [away]. Everybody has to be 100 percent committed.”
Wulff said the Cougars’ biggest challenge is learning to deal with adversity once things go awry — noting that WSU played well during the first quarter against Stanford until an interception and blocked field goal tail-spun into a 58-0 defeat.
“It’s like when we have a bad thing happen to us, we just don’t fight with great intensity back off a mistake,” Wulff said. “When one player makes a mistake, we just don’t respond and fight out of it. We come to accept it, and then we tend to lose our intensity level a little bit. That’s the state of our team right now, and I’ve got to do something about getting that fixed. We’ve got to get that part of this culture fixed.”
Lopina said despite the lopsided result to Stanford, last week was the team’s best week of practice.
“We’ve taken steps the past weeks, we just have to do it on the field on game day,” he said.
Mattingly in good graces
Wulff defended defensive end Andy Mattingly, who was sat for the first half last week for game-preparation reasons.
“By no means was he being defiant,” Wulff said. “We just want our players to learn how to prepare.”
“I don’t think the coaches were trying to make an example of Andy by any means,” Trent said.
Wulff said the message he is trying to send to players is: “Here’s our expectations, here’s how you need to prepare. Here’s the type of focus you need to do on this day as we prepare into every football game. It’s just laying a culture of expectations down, and then following through.
“All our players are trying to do the right things, we’re just not doing the right thing yet.”
• RB Dwight Tardy is expected to start this week. Tardy had only three carries for 11 yards against Stanford, and is battling a knee injury. RB Chris Ivory, who has battled an ongoing hamstring injury, is out for Saturday’s game against Arizona.
“He doesn’t seem to be recovering as quickly as we were all hoping,” Wulff said.
• TE Devin Frischknecht, still recovering from a high ankle sprain, was unable to practice Tuesday, though Wulff said there is an “outside chance” he can return Saturday.