Washington State sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel has passed for 1,478 yards and nine touchdowns this season. DEAN HARE / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Seconds after Saturday's game, Oregon coach Chip Kelly ran across the field and found Jeff Tuel.

The Pac-10's offensive genius heaped praise on the Washington State quarterback.

"I'm a big Jeff Tuel fan," Kelly said this week. "I just like the way he plays. Even when I saw him last year, he didn't act like a freshman. He's got a great maturity to him.

"In a league with some really, really good young quarterbacks, for some reason, I don't think he gets the publicity or notoriety that he should."

Tuel, who has passed for 1,478 yards and nine scores this year, was flattered.

"It makes you feel real good about what you're trying to do," he said.

The 19-year-old's progress is becoming easier to see with each game entering Saturday's matchup against the Arizona Wildcats.

The Cougars (1-5, 0-3) are last in the league, averaging 21.3 points per game. But the sophomore is fifth in the conference with 246.3 yards per game.

In nine league games last year, WSU averaged 8.9 points. This year after three, it's 22.3.

"We gradually kind of … found out what we're good at," he said. "Kept repeating it and getting better and better at it.

"When you're down in the dumps for so long, it's easy to get down on yourself."

Tuel, who spent most of his childhood in Tucson until moving to Fresno, Calif., after his freshman year at Salpointe Catholic, said playing the Wildcats isn't particularly meaningful.

But getting a win would be.

"It's a great feeling - we feel like we're giving the fans something to cheer about," Tuel said. "It's great to have the Cougar nation behind us and excited about something.

"We feel we can execute and try to win some games."