Question: "Will Coach Paul Wulff have his Cougars playing better football this week against Baylor?"
Answer: "We'll just have to wait and see."
Wow! How's that for a revelation? But that's about the best this guy can come up with in making any sort of rational prediction of what might happen when the Cougs travel to Waco, TX to take on another team in transition, the Baylor Bears.
Breaking things down a bit to provide an overview of this non-conference matchup, here's some things to consider.
Will the game even be played in Waco at 11:30am local time? That's a tough question to answer with Hurricane Ike bearing down on the Gulf region. Depending on the situation with Ike, the game might be moved to another site or postponed. As for now, the game is still slated as scheduled.
It seems like Baylor has been losing football games since President Bush left Texas. However, the Bears are going into the game Saturday with a one-game winning streak. OK, that's not a streak...unless you are either a Bear fan or a Cougar fan.
First year Coach Art Briles has taken over a Baylor football program that was in rough shape. Texas is a state where good football players are about as tough to find as a mark-down item at Wal-Mart. No reason some of that talent couldn't stay home and play solid football for Baylor. That's what Coach Briles does. He provides a program for kids to enjoy both college football and get an education at the same time.
First year Coach Paul Wulff is working to do the very same thing at Washington State.
Both head coaches at these two universities have a established record for getting terrific offensive production out of their teams.
When it comes to examining character, both head coaches get very high marks. They are excellent role models and leaders.
Last week Baylor caught a break in their rebuilding process by playing an FBS Subdivision team, Northwestern State. The result was a blowout by Baylor, 51-6.
WSU has to wait until next game to get a crack at Portland State, as comparable team. We'll talk more about that in due time.
Getting back to the original question demands a quick look at the quarterback position for Washington State.
In practice the past two days, Kevin Lopina has taken the majority of snaps with the first team. The additional reps have improved his timing with the starters and he's getting more comfortable behind center. Lopina has the potential to make plays with his feet and can turn a broken play into positive yardage for the offense. He showed flashes of that against Cal, but not enough to drive his team into the end zone.
With Lopina getting time with the first team, senior Gary Rogers is doing his best to downplay the competition as little more than "something that's good for both of us".
If you listen to these guys talk after practice, Lopina is clearly the more upbeat of the two. But personalities don't complete passes or win football games.
Who will start for the Cougs against Bayor?
Coach Wulff is still asserting that the decision will be made at game-time. Right! That's what the story is with everyone outside the WSU football family. The coaches know who will start. The rest is just posturing. OK?
With both the offense and defense of WSU ranking at the bottom of Division I, both sides of the ball should improve this week. Heck, they aren't going to get any worse!
If practice Wednesday is any indicator, the offense is getting ahead of the defense. At least the offense didn't have to run sprints at the end of the session like the guys on D did. Oh. Almost forgot. All the receivers had to put in extra time at the end of practice because they were dropping passes left and right.
The odds-makers might just have this game right. They have Baylor a 2.5 point favorite, based solely on home field advantage.
If you consider carefully the way both of these schools have begun their 2008 season, if there was a way both teams could lose...that might just happen.