TEMPE, Ariz. – Washington State senior quarterback Jeff Tuel is still waiting to hear from the NCAA to determine if he can play another season in college, but Tuel reiterated Saturday that he’s not certain he will return to WSU if he is declared eligible for a fifth year.
“I’ve just got to sit down and really look at that, weigh all my options,” Tuel said after he was benched early in WSU’s 46-7 loss to Arizona State on Saturday afternoon.
Tuel hopes to get a shot at the NFL someday. Because he graduates in December, he could transfer to another school if the NCAA grants him a medical redshirt year.
“I haven’t thought about it (transferring),” Tuel said.
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Tuel played in only three games last season because of injuries. This year, he relinquished the starting job to Connor Halliday after suffering a knee injury in the second game but has started the past four games.
Halliday, who threw five touchdown passes last week against UCLA after Tuel was knocked out of the game in the first quarter, said earlier this week, “It’s been frustrating as all get-out” to not have a set starter at quarterback this season.
Asked Saturday if he finds the situation frustrating, Tuel said, “Yeah, it is.”
Coach Mike Leach has repeatedly said he would have preferred having one quarterback clearly establish himself as the starter.
NO WORD ON PROBE
Leach remains outspoken in maintaining that his coaching staff did not physically or mentally “abuse” players, as star receiver Marquess Wilson maintained in a letter announcing he was quitting the team last week.
WSU president Elson Floyd announced a week ago that the school and the Pacific-12 Conference would investigate. Leach and a WSU spokesperson said they’ve heard nothing about the results.
“There wasn’t anything negative (to find),” Leach said.
APPLE CUP MUST
The Cougars must end the season Friday with an Apple Cup win over Washington to avoid becoming the first Pac-12 team to go winless in conference play since the 2009 Cougars.
“This whole week of practice is going to be the most intense we’ve had because we have nothing to lose,” safety Deone Bucannon said.
Arizona State coach Todd Graham is a former defensive coordinator, and he’s well aware of Leach’s reputation for offensive wizardry.
“Obviously, their coach is a great offensive coach,” Graham said last week.
On Saturday, Arizona State held the Cougars to 1 rushing yard and 240 passing yards on 49 attempts. Perhaps more impressive, the Sun Devils foiled Washington State on 15 of 16 third-down conversion attempts.
“Our third-down plan was exceptional,” Graham said. “I have a bunch of smart guys (defensive assistants) that do a great job.”
One of those defensive assistants, Chris Ball, had special reason to savor Saturday’s victory. Ball was WSU’s defensive coordinator last year before the entire coaching staff was let go after Leach was hired.
The Cougars’ inconsistency has frustrated coaches and players alike. WSU rallied dramatically from a 37-7 halftime deficit last week before dropping a 44-36 decision to then-No. 17 UCLA, then played atrociously from start to finish at Arizona State.
The Cougars also played horribly two weeks ago in a 49-6 loss at Utah. That came one week after a strong performance in a 24-17 loss at then-No. 19 Stanford.
Three of WSU’s eight consecutive losses have come by eight points or fewer.