Coaches live by certain codes, and one thing that is to be avoided is criticizing an opponent before a game.
Washington State's Jim Walden, however, has always been one to say what he thinks.
Walden, whose Cougars will play USC Saturday at the Coliseum, criticized USC's approach to playing defense when he said: "Defensively, they (USC) always play the same way, rally like heck to the ball. They aren't the greatest technicians in the world but, boy, do they have some great athletes."
Walden's remarks were construed by USC's Coach Ted Tollner as a reprimand to his staff for not teaching proper techniques.
"I think he's wrong," Tollner said Tuesday. "I think our players are taught excellent techniques. Over the years I think we've proved that we play sound defense from a technique and ability standpoint.
"I know one thing: we have been a hell of a lot more sound on defense since I've been here than Washington State."
The Cougars are a prolific offensive team, but they rank sixth in total defense in the Pacific 10, allowing an average of 363.4 yards a game. They're seventh in scoring defense, permitting 27.1 points a game.
Although USC is coming off a 37-3 loss to Notre Dame, the Trojans are still No. 1 in total defense in the conference, yielding 267.5 yards a game. USC is No. 3 in scoring defense, permitting 16.1 points a game.
WSU, picked to finish third in the Pac-10 in one preseason poll, is struggling. The Cougars are 2-6 overall and 2-4 in the league.
Walden is indiscriminate in selecting his targets. He also criticized his own fans when a crowd of fewer than 15,000 showed up for last Saturday's game against Arizona State at Pullman.
"The players know what they have to do, play hard every week. They extend themselves. They haven't quit and they aren't going to quit. That puts them just a little above two-thirds of the fans around here and ranks them a little above about half the student body because they have quit. My football players won't do what a lot of people have done."
Tollner says that USC was in a similar position in 1984, when it lost to LSU, 23-3, with most of the conference schedule ahead. He also said that USC, 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-10, is at a pivotal point.
"There are potentially two ways to go," he said. "Are you going to be shocked and stunned (by the lopsided loss to Notre Dame) and let outside criticism affect your mental toughness, or come together, fight and not quit."
Tollner said it was the most disappointing loss he and his staff have suffered since he has been at USC.
The defeat, perhaps, will always puzzle Tollner because he believes that USC matched up favorably with Notre Dame from a physical standpoint. It didn't turn out that way.
"We still feel we have good enough players to be better than we are," he said. "Blame whoever you want to blame."
Trojan Notes Washington State ranks seventh nationally in total offense, averaging 459.3 yards a game. The Cougars are also averaging 26.9 points a game. WSU has been in contention in almost every game, but has suffered five of its six losses by a touchdown or less. Historically, WSU hasn't fared very well against USC. The Trojans have won 15 straight from the Cougars and have a commanding 38-4-4 lead in the series. . . . WSU has been a slow starting team under Coach Jim Walden, but has a 9-1 record in the last five games of the 1983 and 1984 seasons. The Cougars RPM backfield of quarterback Mark Rypien and running backs Kerry Porter and Rueben Mayes may not be intact. Porter has a shoulder injury and is questionable for Saturday's game.
Troy Richardson replaced Chris Sperle as USC's punter against Notre Dame and averaged only 29.3 yards on three punts. Ted Tollner isn't sure who will punt against WSU. . . . There's also a possibility that Eric Affholter will replace Don Shafer as USC's placekicker in Saturday's game. Shafer has made only 6 of 11 field goals this season. . . . USC nose guard Tony Colorito is still bothered by a severely sprained left ankle and probably will miss the WSU game. . . . Gene Arrington, a redshirt freshman, and Al Washington, a junior college transfer, will replace Randy Tanner at flanker. Tanner had knee surgery Sunday to repair an injury he suffered while fumbling on the opening kickoff against Notre Dame. . . . Quarterback Sean Salisbury became USC's all-time passing leader with his 21-yard completion against the Irish in the second quarter. He now has 318 completions and is also the passing yardage leader with 4,146. . . . Turnover table: USC committed only three turnovers in its three wins, contrasted with 12 in its three losses. . . . USC outgained Notre Dame, 346 total yards to 335, but it's a misleading statistic. The Irish had a 228-160 advantage in the first half, when they put USC away.