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WSU wins big but loses Tuel for a while

COUGARS

Don't think anybody who is reading this doesn't already know about Jeff Tuel and his broken left clavicle. So we're not going to talk about ... oh, yes we are. But we also have some other things to cover about WSU's 64-21 domination of Idaho State, so read on.

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• I guess the first thing to say to the Cougar faithful is, don't panic. Yet. Two things are at play here. One is Tuel's injury, which can heal pretty quickly especially for guys his age. The other is the schedule. If Tuel misses say six weeks, he misses a bunch of games the Cougars should be able to compete in. Without him at the controls of the offense, it will be harder, sure. But it's better than trying to compete with Oregon or Stanford (OK, I know that still could happen) or even Washington without him. My guess is Tuel will be back pretty quick, as, according to Paul Wulff, the fracture wasn't bothering him all that much even when he left the field. The X-ray was more of a precaution than a procedure performed expecting to find anything. And if Marshall Lobbestael plays anywhere near how he played Saturday, and if the offensive line plays anywhere near how it played Saturday, the Cougars should be OK. ... Though here are a couple of problems I can see happening. Idaho State couldn't press receivers, so WSU was able to get space for its wide receiver screens. That was a big part of its offense. With a week to prepare and knowing that the Cougars won't be throwing the deep ball as often or as well, UNLV will throw a different look at WSU. How the offensive line and Lobbestael handle that will be interesting. ... Besides Tuel's injury, which isn't season-ending, the Cougars had another big one. Darryl Monroe was a solid backup and gave WSU depth at linebacker. He's gone for the season after tearing his Achilles' tendon. That will hurt in a lot of different ways, including special teams. The special teams took another hit when cornerback Travion Smith suffered a possible torn ACL. He may be lost for the season. These type of injuries suck up the depth. ... Sorry if it seems like I've been dwelling on the negatives. We'll look at the other side of the coin. And I can say without reservation that this is the best the Cougars have looked, top to bottom, in the Wulff era and probably since I've been covering them. I know Idaho State is not very good, I get it. But that hasn't stopped WSU teams in the past from tripping over themselves. This team executed. It hit. It flew around. It just played well. ... So that one is over. Now on to UNLV. But before we go there, we have our game story for you to read.

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• That's it for now. We'll be back, as usual, in the morning. Until then ...




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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