PULLMAN – Paul Wulff is frustrated with all the losing.
He’s frustrated with all the blown plays.
He’s frustrated with all the speculation about his job status.
One thing that does not frustrate Wulff is the effort he sees from his football team.
“You watch us practice,” the Washington State coach said. “You watch us do things. You’d never guess what our season is right now record-wise.
“I like our attitude. I like the fight. I like the consistent go-to-work mentality. It’s the first time we’ve had that since we’ve been here.”
Wulff, 4-31 in three seasons as coach at his alma mater, has two years remaining on a five-year contract. Some are calling for his termination.
The Cougars (1-9) must win one of their two remaining games – Saturday at 4-4 Oregon State (1:10 p.m., FSN), or Dec. 4 at home against 3-6 Washington (4 p.m., Versus) – to avoid tying the school record of 11 losses. Wulff’s first team set the record, his second team tied it.
“The majority (of WSU’s players) aren’t accepting the losses,” running back Logwone Mitz said.
Wulff has good reason to want to remain at WSU next year. Not only do the Cougars return the vast majority of their top players, but the first five games of 2011 appear to be winnable.
The Cougars open at home against Idaho State, a Football Championship Subdivision team that is currently 1-8. The next week, WSU revives its annual home game at Seattle’s Qwest Field by taking on UNLV (also 1-8).
The Cougars’ next three games are on the road, but San Diego State, Colorado and UCLA are not expected to be overwhelming. Stanford, the sixth opponent, might be a bit too much for WSU to handle.
With or without Wulff, the Cougars plan to make good use of the bye week that precedes their Pacific-12 Conference debut at Colorado next year. Saturday’s game with Oregon State is the 11th game in as many weeks for WSU. The injury-riddled Cougars then have two weeks off before the Apple Cup.
WSU strong safety Deone Bucannon, a true freshman, has taken over the team lead in tackles from 2009 leader Alex Hoffman-Ellis.
Bucannon is tied for fourth in the Pac-10 with 73 tackles. Hoffman-Ellis has 69.
The Beavers have run hot and cold on both sides of the ball, but they’re not beating themselves with turnovers.
Oregon State leads the nation with just four turnovers, and the Beavers are the only team without a lost fumble. … OSU’s second-ranked kickoff return unit (27-yard average) will work against Washington State’s second-ranked kickoff return defense (16.4). …
OSU’s Stephen Paea could be the first defensive tackle taken in the 2011 NFL draft. Paea leads an effective pass rush with four sacks.
Wulff said four key players – running backs James Montgomery and Carl Winston, wide receiver Daniel Blackledge and linebacker Sekope Kaufusi – may be back in action.
Montgomery, WSU’s leading rusher, has fully recovered from the concussion that sidelined him last week.
Cornerback Daniel Simmons is out indefinitely with a rotator cuff injury. Wulff said wide receiver Gino Simone was likely to sit out with the concussion he suffered against California.