Pac-10 midseason report: Washington State


Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Five seasons removed from a third consecutive 10-win season, Washington State is now popularly considered the nation's worst BCS conference team, so when you review the Cougars 1-6 start -- the lone victory came over FCS squad Portland State -- "miserable" seems like an apt term.

The team's weekly press release lists 15 statistical categories, and the Cougars rank 108th in the nation or worse in nine of them, including 117th in rushing and scoring defense and 116th in turnover margin (out of 118 FBS teams).

First-year coach Paul Wulff inherited a team that wasn't terribly talented in the first place and likely would have finished at the bottom of the Pac-10 in any event. But injuries have been rampant, with two of the top three quarterbacks now lost for the season, and 16 of WSU's 43 players who have started at least once have combined to miss 33 games due to injury.


WSU, which has given up 60-plus points in three of its four conference games, was forced to use a freshman walk-on against Oregon State last weekend.

So, yeah, things aren't good.

Offensive MVP: Center Kenny Alfred, one of only two offensive linemen to start every game at the same position, has made 26 career starts, second most on the team, and most of them have been good ones. Wulff, in fact, has singled out his play multiple times this season.

Defensive MVP: Senior middle linebacker Greg Trent leads the Cougars with 46 total tackles, 13 more than any other player. He also has 5.5 tackles for a loss and an interception. A four-year starter with 31 consecutive starts, Trent currently has 281 career tackles, which ties him for 11th on the program's all-time list with Don Hover.

What's next: Barring a massive upset, Washington State will be winless in Pac-10 play when it plays host to rival Washington on Nov. 22, the stakes likely being ninth place in the conference.

Wulff's main task will be keeping his team together during a transition he's admitted was much harder than he anticipated. That won't be easy.

Wulff, thus far, appears to be doing well on the recruiting trail, selling prospects on the future and taking advantage of turmoil across the state at Washington.

But the present, from any angle, is clearly a lost cause.