OK, so the big news is on the previous post. We have some more on the decision to give Kevin Lopina the start and play Marshall Lobbestael some as well on the link. We also have some other news on the starting spots. Read on.
• This is one of those years in which Paul Wulff would probably give a month's salary to open the season with an easier game. Someone who would be much better than a scrimmage or a walkover, but a school that wasn't in the Pac-10. But that's not the case. The Cougars open with Stanford. And Wulff still isn't sure who the best quarterback to lead the team is. So he and offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy have decided to start Kevin Lopina, give him at least a couple series, then turn the controls over to Marshall Lobbestael. Of course, if Lopina hits 10 consecutive passes, leads WSU to a couple quick scores and looks like Tom Brady, Lobbestael may not get his chance. Both players understand that, but Lopina figures Lobbestael will play and Lobbestael says he'll be ready. We'll see Saturday.
• No matter who plays at quarterback, they at least have been on the field during a college game. That can't be said of three true freshmen who have a good shot at starting. Gino Simone has asserted himself in the slot position, in part because of his play and in part due to injuries to other receivers during camp. But Simone has earned playing time and more than likely the starting spot. The same can be said for Travis Long at defensive end. He moved up with the ones a while back and hasn't left. He's going to play and more than likely start. Finally Darren Markle has filled in for Alex Hoffman-Ellis in the middle of the defense while Hoffman-Ellis has recovered from a foot problem. Wulff said Sunday Hoffman-Ellis is still slated to be the guy, but if he can't go, they want to make sure Markle is ready. Why three freshmen, something that's never happened at WSU since the Pac-10 was formed? "Necessity, number one," Wulff said. "And those three in particular are extremely mature. I think they can handle it, no question." ... At some points Sunday, four freshmen, Long, Markle and redshirts Daniel Simmons and Dan Spitz, were running with the ones.
• One thing I've noticed in the three years of covering WSU football, the first day of practice on game week is usually dominated by the defense. The offense is putting in the game plan, struggling at times to execute it, and the defense, which is doing more basic things, has its way. Sunday was no different. The defense came up with a couple of picks – Simmons and Anthony Houston – and the offense struggled to move the ball. A couple of times, however, Dwight Tardy find a little room and busted decent runs. ... There were some players missing with flu-like symptoms, including backup center Chris Prummer and safeties LeAndre Daniels and Eric Block. The absences may just keep popping up all week. ... Brandon Jones and Jeffrey Solomon participated fully in practice. Jeshua Anderson and James Montgomery did some things but stayed away from contact drills.
• That's it for tonight. We'll be back tomorrow morning with our usual links. The Cougars have a day off tomorrow, the mandated one. And with the Michigan news, you can trust days off will be honored. Until then …