We're eight games into a 13-game schedule for first year Coach Paul Wulff and the Washington State Cougars.
For the first time in a couple of months, there's no Football Friday this week for Cougar Nation.
There's a break in the schedule!
It couldn't have come at a better time.
Coach Wulff has changed things up this week.
For the first time this season, practice Tuesday and Wednesday was moved inside the "bubble" indoor facility and closed to both the public and media.
Coming on the heels of a 69-0 drubbing at the hands of USC, it's pretty clear that something better change to get the Cougs back on track.
There have been some improvements by individual players for WSU, but neither the offense nor defense has come close to performing as a unit. Sure, there have been a few bursts of team football. But the longest stretch of 11 playing as one was the second quarter of the Oregon State game.
The defense played their best football during that period. But that's it for consistent team play. Period.
Coach Wulff closed practice sessions to eliminate possible distractions. He's looking for leaders to step forward and work toward a common goal: winning football games.
Thursday, the coaching staff packed their bags and hit the recruiting trails. No doubt the staff didn't mind saying "Bye" to Pullman to focus on building for the future.
Cougar players will have the next few days off the practice field, limiting their workouts to the weight room. Come Sunday, the team will put the pads back on and begin preparing for the Stanford game.
While the most common theme for Cougar football is building for the future, it's pretty clear Coach Wulff is committed to the present. If he wasn't, why would the extreme measure of closed practices be taken during a bye week?
Coach Wulff believes his players can do better. Publicly, he has stated that the last five games are a new season for WSU. With three games on the road, the goal is to have a winning record over these last five games.
As for the recruiting efforts, Coach Wulff and his staff already have more high school talent on board than in any of the previous four seasons. With the latest high school senior to go crimson and gray, there are eight players ready to become a Coug.
Bellevue High's Jamal Atofau is a 5'10" safety with good speed and a great feel for the game. Scout.com describes Atofau as "...the top skill player in the Northwest...." He chose WSU over Oregon, Arizona, and Boise State, as well as other offers.
All eight high school players committed to Washington State are ranked as three-star prospects. That is impressive stuff. It's likely that there will be many more top-notch recruits packing their bags for Pullman in the coming months.
Next week is likely to be pretty lively around the practice field. There will be renewed energy pumping through the veins of players and coaches alike.
For Cougar football, the best is yet to come.
Coach Wulff is working to lead the current team to a good finish this season.
In just one short week, it will be another Football Friday, Cougar Nation!