Wulff tries to renew Cougars
Paul Wulff has spent the last eight seasons at Eastern Washington, but he is a Cougar through and through. He played center for Washington State in the 1980s, and even then was a leader.
Editor's Note: This is the 12th in a series highlighting the teams the University of Hawaii will face this season.
He led the Eagles to seven winning seasons, and the powers-that-be in Pullman believe he can pull the Cougars out of the bottom half of the Pac-10 and off the police blotter (25 arrests in 18 months) as well. Washington State has not been to a bowl game in four years.
Coach: Paul Wulff (53-40, first season at WSU)
2007 record: 5-7, 3-6 in Pac-10 (tied for 7th)
Hawaii series: WSU leads, 2-1
WSU has some firepower coming back on offense, starting with receiver Brandon Gibson, a legit All-America candidate. He led the Pac-10 with 1,180 receiving yards with 67 catches. But Gibson could get plenty of double coverage because the two best bets to line up on the other flank are both hurt -- Pac-10 hurdles champion Jeshua Anderson and Daniel Blackledge.
The durability of Dwight Tardy's knee is a big key; he rushed for 676 yards last fall prior to tearing an ACL.
Five offensive line starters were to return, but right guard Dan Rowlands is out with a chronic shoulder injury, and that could hurt the line's chemistry.
Quarterback Gary Rogers is untested as a senior, having backed up Alex Brink.
The defense was porous last fall, allowing 32 points per game, and might not be much better this year despite the presence of many experienced players. Andy Mattingly could be a difference-maker. He moves from linebacker to end after producing eight sacks in 2007.
Linebacker Greg Trent was in on 77 tackles last year, including 14 against USC.
But the depth up front took a hit when Andy Roof, an offensive lineman converted to defense, was dismissed from school by WSU's student conduct council because of a bar fight and other previous misdeeds.
The Cougars could improve from last year's 5-7 mark, but only if the injuries don't continue to mount and the players buy into Wulff's brand of discipline and accountability.