PULLMAN – Washington State running back Dwight Tardy says the Cougars’ offensive linemen were a great bunch of guys last year – and he didn’t like it one bit.
“The competitiveness of the O-line wasn’t where it should have been,” Tardy said.
This season, Tardy says the Cougars’ offensive linemen are “a little nasty,” and he is delighted.
“You’ve got to understand, this is a nasty game,” Tardy said. “The guys who are aggressive and nasty, nine times out of 10, they’re going to come out on top.”
Tardy said strength coach Darin Lovat deserves credit for the offensive linemen’s development mentally and physically.
“Coach Lovat has worked us to the point of no return, worked us down to the ground,” Tardy said. “He’s given the linemen attitude. He’s made ’em a lot tougher and a lot stronger.”
Tardy said the Cougars lacked grit last season.
“A lot of guys really shut it down,” Tardy said. “We didn’t have mental toughness.
“This year, through the whole summer, the whole spring, that’s what we’ve been coached: They’ve been conditioning our minds to have mental toughness. We’re competing. No one’s giving up.
“They’re scratching, they’re fighting and clawing, whatever it takes to get the job done. Last year, the guy would get beat and then quit.”
Coaches say the only players who have starting jobs locked up for the Sept. 5 opener with visiting Stanford are center Kenny Alfred, outside linebacker Andy Mattingly, defensive end Kevin Kooyman, cornerback Brandon Jones and safeties Xavier Hicks and Chima Nwachukwu.
Jones, a junior transfer from California, attended Seattle’s O’Dea High School.
The Cougars’ first scrimmage is set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free at Martin Stadium. … About 24,000 tickets have been sold for the Hawaii game Sept. 12, WSU’s annual home game at Seattle’s Qwest Field. … WSU’s Paul Wulff is the lowest-paid head coach in the six Bowl Championship Series conferences, according to the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel newspaper. Wulff makes $600,000 a year, which is tied for 85th among all 120 head coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision. USC’s Pete Carroll heads the list at $4.4 million per year. … Cougfan.com reported that Romeo Pellum, a starting cornerback at WSU last season, is transferring to Hampton (Va.). The Pirates play in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA). Pellum was suspended at WSU after confessing to burglarizing two dorm rooms, including one occupied by teammates.