Patient in Pullman.
That has been the story during the Paul Wulff era at Washington State.
Entering the 2011 campaign, Wulff -- who played for the Cougars from 1986-89 -- had compiled a 5-32 over his first three seasons back on the Palouse.
It appears Washington State, which will visit Boulder this Saturday for Colorado's first official Pac-12 game, has finally turned the corner.
The Cougars, coming off a bye week ahead of the conference grind, will bring an entertaining brand of football to Folsom Field.
Through three games, despite losing starting quarterback Jeff Tuel in the opener, the Cougars (2-1) rank fourth nationally in passing (380.0 yards per game), fifth in scoring (49.0 ppg) and sixth in total offense (539.7 ypg).
"Not every situation when a coach arrives is the same. In this case, being that this is my alma mater and I'm a fan, I think I have a little more interest," Wulff said during a recent interview with the Camera when asked about his rebuilding process. "I was disappointed with where we started. Things were a lot lower here than you would ever want to imagine."
Wulff said the talent level and academic performance at Washington State was as bad as his team's 2-25 record in the Pac-10 over the last three seasons indicates.
The Cougars operated well under the 85 scholarship limit in 2008 and 2009 during the house cleaning. Only five players remain from the original roster the current staff inherited.
"It made for a very challenging situation," Wulff said. "We're starting to see all that work show up, but we've got to continue to grow."
Washington State has home wins over Idaho State (64-21) and UNLV (59-7) and a road loss at San Diego State (42-24) this season.
"It's obvious we have a ton of talent," said Marshall Lobbestael, who has played well since stepping in for Tuel under center. "At the skill positions we have some extremely explosive players. I've done my best to fill in since we lost our starting quarterback. It has been a good start, but we haven't proven anything yet."
Lobbestael has completed 62.4 percent of his passes and thrown for 959 yards and 10 touchdowns with only two interceptions. CU's defense has made opposing signal callers, from Hawaii senior Bryant Moniz to Ohio State freshman Braxton Miller, look like Heisman Trophy candidates.
Marquess Wilson is averaging 28.6 yards per catch with four touchdowns. He caught six passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns against San Diego State. Four different Cougars have at least two touchdown catches through three games.
Tuel, who suffered a broken collarbone, was an honorable mention All Pac-10 selection last season.
"That is part of building a program. You don't center it around one or two players. That shows our growth," Wulff said of being able to overcome an injury to the starting quarterback. "It's still early, but to be able to do that is a good sign and shows that we have more depth."
The Pac-12 has two more teams, CU and Utah, this season. The Cougars plan to welcome the Buffs to the club by beating them Saturday.
"I think the business aspect of Utah and CU coming in is over my head. But what's fun for us is we get to play two new teams," Marshall said of the conference expansion. "We want to make it to a bowl game this year, so every game is going to be big for us."
The Buffs (1-3) are coming off a 37-17 loss at Ohio State, which extended the program's undying out-of-state losing streak to 20 games. Despite a 2-10 record in 2010, Washington State did produce a road victory at Oregon State last season.
Jon Embree, a former CU player, is also taking on a difficult rebuilding job at his alma mater.
"You look at them and they have good players for a first-year situation. They've got some young players that are good as well. Physically, it looks like they can match up well," Wulff said before the Buffs' defeat in Columbus. "I think (Embree) is going to do a good job. He has quality assistants around him. The most important thing is you have to stick with your plan. ...
"I definitely think it's helpful (coaching at your school) because you understand the climate a lot more."