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October 14, 2008

Paul Wulff

Q. I'm sure this year hasn't started off like you hoped it would. Can you reflect a little bit on how it's gone for you, maybe why it's gone the way it has and what positives have you been able to take from it?
COACH WULFF: Well, first of all, we knew coming in here with the change of staffs and the way the program, I guess, was headed, the school decided there needed to be a change, and so we're part of that change. We've come into a situation where we've tried to change our culture and we're working hard, and so there's a lot of change.
And sometimes with change, it's just not -- it doesn't run that smoothly initially, and I knew that. But we had to kind of set down our philosophies. Along the way we've had a lot of injuries, and we've got a lot of young players playing, and the combination just isn't good right now for us.
But this team will grow and will bounce back and we'll build our program back up to be one of the competitive teams again.

Q. Sorry to hear about your latest quarterback injury. Can you update us on the position and what's going to happen now?
COACH WULFF: Well, you know, we believe that Kevin Lopina will be back playing for us this week at quarterback. We lost Marshall Lobbestael to a season-ending injury with ACL and MCL tears. He has started the last three games for us as a freshman, and very unfortunate because we feel good about Marshall and his potential here as a player. So unfortunate for his development and our team.
But now we're sitting with Kevin Lopina back off an injury, so we're hoping that he can help us.

Q. Talk about his abilities a little bit.
COACH WULFF: Well, Kevin is from de la Salle High School and originally went to Kansas State out of high school and then after a year transferred here back to Washington State. He's got some athletic ability and throws the ball well, and he's been in a winning program all through high school. He sat out one year because of an injury, one year because of a red-shirt while transferring. So this really is his first year of playing any football at all at the college level.
He had, I think, two starts in before he got hurt. So he's very inexperienced as a player, as well.
But he is a junior, and he has played in some games this year, so he'll be out hopefully playing, giving us a spark this week.

Q. Some of your other key offensive guys, you've got an All-PAC 10 wide receiver in Gibson. Tell us a little bit about him and also your running back Tardy didn't play last week. What's his status?
COACH WULFF: He's still questionable for this week, and he's got a knee that has been irritating to him some that he can overcome, he's just got a little swelling. So we're questionable whether he's going to be ready this week.
And then Brandon is -- you know, started off the season well, and has tailed off a little bit this last week, and he needs to pick up and play a little bit better. He's capable, but at the same time, we've struggled on offense in all the spots. You know, it's clearly affected his production, which I know is frustrating to all of us and him included, and so we've just got to work through it when we have tough times, and we're in that right now.

Q. What about the other side of the ball? Can you tell us about your defense?
COACH WULFF: You know, defensively I feel at times we've done some good things, and our offense has been poor enough to where we've stressed our defense entirely way more than any defense should be stressed, just meaning that they've been on the field way too long. It's hurt our defense.
Now, at the same time, we still continue to do some things obviously better. We do have some youth there in spots, and we're still -- we've done some good things, but at the same time, like I said, we haven't responded as well as we'd like when they are in adverse situations, when the offense turns the ball over, whatever the case may be. We need to do a better job responding to adversity.

Q. Despite all this, how has it been for you personally? I mean, it's probably a dream come true coming back to your alma mater and coaching. You've had a lot of success in your past. How are you handling all of this?
COACH WULFF: Well, it's tough. As a coach you never want to go through a season like this, but it's a first for me. I've never been through anything quite like this with this scenario, but I also have to be realistic and realize that that's just how the season has gone, and the program dipped a little bit. We're working on the upwards swing of our nuts and bolts of the program and what we've got to do on a daily basis to get ourselves better as a program.
I'm very confident we'll be headed in that direction, and we are. It's not showing up on the field right now because of a lot of reasons, but you just have to keep looking ahead and looking at the future and keep recruiting hard and doing the things that are going to enable your program to grow. That part is very exciting for me every day to go to work and realize that's where we're at and knowing that we're going to make a lot of progress as we continue to move forward.

Q. Can you talk about this week's game and your thoughts on this USC team?
COACH WULFF: Well, we're facing obviously one of the best teams in the country, very experienced team on defense in particular. They've got some outstanding players there on defense, and then offensively the same thing. They've got players across the board that are very talented, good players, and you know, a team that's very balanced on offense. You know, they're well coached, and they're a very, very quality football team.
You've got to be on your very best, best game and you've got to catch them playing a bad football game to be able to be in the game, and that's about where we're at, and that's about where most people will be at if you're going to have a chance to beat them.

Q. USC has struggled at times when they've played teams that have been big underdogs. What have you taken from games like Oregon State and last year Stanford, and have you talked to your team about those situations?
COACH WULFF: No, we haven't talked about those yet. That's something we'll probably mention as we move through the week a little bit, but I think all things are possible. I'm a believer in that, and I think that our kids have to understand that and believe that. If they go out and play a great game, they've got a chance to be in the ballgame. So we've got to be able to relay that and hopefully they can believe that, and then they've got to go out and execute it.

End of FastScripts

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