We've talked a bit this year about how coaches have to walk a fine line between getting the best talent on the field and making sure that they're able to keep the standards high for everyone. There has been no better example of that this year than one C.J. Mizell.
It seems Mizell, whom we assumed had been making strides in his work ethic in recent weeks with the carrot of playing time in front of him, is still struggling with bringing consistent effort every day. Via Grippi's post-practice report last night:
If you still wonder why C.J. Mizell doesn’t start, maybe this will clue you in. Early in practice the defense was doing a tackling drill where a runner carries the ball between cones and the defender must close, break down and make the tackle. Mizell’s first attempt was about half speed and he barely made contact with the ball carrier. He was told to do it again. Same effort. Again. Same effort. Now other players are yelling, because the drill has ground to a halt. Again. Same effort. Again. Same effort. Finally, Mizell was told to start running, which he did around the defensive practice field. Slowly, until the drill ended.
Paul Wulff inherited a program that was full of guys with a million-dollar body but 10-cent brain and/or work ethic. Wulff and his staff have dedicated a lot of time and effort to changing that within WSU, something that led to a lot of "talent" leaving over the past two years, but also something that has been responsible for getting this program back on the right track to long-term performance.
Which brings us back to Mizell.
Who knows why he wasn't bringing it yesterday. What we do know is that this isn't the first time something like this has happened. I'm not saying he's necessarily got a 10-cent brain or work ethic to go along with his million-dollar body, but he's starting to earn that reputation. And I don't know what the solution is to getting him motivated, but I do know that the coaching staff has worked too hard to change that culture to let this slide because he's talented.
The good news? It doesn't look like anyone's letting it slide. And it's not just the coaches holding him accountable, it's his teammates, too. That's a good thing. But here's to hoping he gets it turned around before Saturday, because we sure as heck need him on that football field against USC. He's one of the few guys we have who can match up physically with the Trojans, and his strength is in tracking down runners, which USC has a bleep-ton of who carry the ball about 35 times a game.
Please, C.J. Get your freaking head screwed on straight.
On to the links! If you're looking for more info on Colorado's move to the Pac-12 next season, you can find that down under the Pac-10 News portion.
NCAA: WSU vs. USC Game Week - SB Nation Seattle
Game week news and notes for WSU vs. USC. Jeff Tuel and the Cougars take on the Trojans this Saturday at noon on FSN.
Wulff talks with the media at WSU - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - Sept. 21, 2010
The local media call began with me asking about any changes in USC what with the new coaching staff. Wulff said the offense is really the same one the Trojans have been running since Norm Chow was the offensive coordinator. The defense, under the direction of Lane’s dad Monte, is quite different, playing a couple different Cover 2s and some Cover 1.
Wulff sees hard times for USC down the line - Spokesman.com - Sept. 21, 2010
"They’re going to be talking like I’m talking in (four or five years) from now," Wulff said, whose team had 72 scholarship players his first season, due in part to APR problems. "You’re going to be hearing the same words I speak, not instantly but down the road."
WSU football: How USC could face same struggles as WSU in near future | Moscow-Pullman Daily News Blogs
Figured with USC and its pending NCAA sanctions coming to town, it was a good time to take a look at just how much a scholarship reduction — something USC faces starting next season — can effect the way a program’s depth shakes out.
Joys of youth: Cougars psyched to battle Trojans | WSU Cougars - The News Tribune
The Cougars are young and rebuilding, but coach Paul Wulff did not hesitate to voice support for his team when asked if he believes his players are confident they can knock off USC. "Yeah, I do," Wulff said Tuesday. "I think our players are excited to play the game."
WASHINGTON STATE OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE - Blog
It was a full slate yesterday with podcasts as interviews with Athletics Director Bill Moos, Volleyball Coach Andrew Palileo, Soccer Coach Matt Potter, and Cross Country Coach Pete Julian were posted on the WSUCougars.com Podcast Network page. Of note during his interview is that Moos recounts the 1972 Cougars' game vs. the Trojans, when Moos was a senior offensive tackle for WSU while his current USC AD counterpart Pat Haden was across the sidelines as member of the '72 USC team.
Cougs Finish Tied for Ninth at Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational - WASHINGTON STATE OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE
The Washington State men's golf team finished tied for ninth at the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational, held at the par-72, 7,304-yard Washington National Golf Club.
WSU Women Move into First at Cougar Cup - WASHINGTON STATE OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE
The Washington State University women's golf team improved on their opening-round performance and moved into first place at the Cougar Cup Tuesday, held at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club.
Harriers at Anderson Memorial Invite in Spokane - WASHINGTON STATE OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE
The Washington State University men's and women's cross country teams will compete at the 11th Annual Runners Soul/Erik Anderson Memorial Cross Country Invitational this Saturday, September 25, at the Plantes Ferry Complex in the Spokane Valley...results will be posted on the official WSU Athletic website, wsucougars.com, when available.
Pac-10 expansion: Colorado to join in 2011 (it’s a done deal) | College Hotline
The Big 12 just announced the terms of Colorado’s departure following the 2011-12 season. Which means the Buffs will be playing football in the Pac-10 next fall, pending approval by the Colorado regents (which will come as early as tonight). Which means the Pac-10 will become the Pac-12 on July 1, 2011.
Details on Colorado's Pac-12 arrival - Pac-10 Blog - ESPN
Colorado has negotiated its escape from the Big 12 and will join Utah as the new members of the Pac-12 in 2011.
Pac-10 football ratings: The early-season bowl math | College Hotline
With conference play ramping up this week, I figured this would be a good time for a quick overview of the bowl situation, based on results of the first three weeks.
Pac-10 stock report - Pac-10 Blog - ESPN
Stock down: Washington State's offensive line: The Cougars have surrendered 10 sacks -- three more than any other conference team -- and rank last in the conference in rushing (96.7 ypg).