PULLMAN – Washington State University held its final scrimmage of fall camp Friday.
Like most every scrimmage, nothing was decided. But the word nothing held more significance than usual.
The offense scored a touchdown, the defense made a big play or two, the special teams featured a field goal and two booming punts. All pretty normal for an intrasquad scrimmage.
But the biggest question for many of the 500 or so in Martin Stadium wasn’t answered.
Who will start at quarterback in next Saturday’s season opener against Stanford?
“We’re going to make a decision on that in the next couple days,” WSU coach Paul Wulff said after the 51-play scrimmage.
When pressed a little, Wulff wouldn’t budge.
“I know it’s a profile position, I understand that,” he said. “But, really, to the team’s perspective, we could have a battle at right tackle or at corner that is every bit as important.”
Wulff said the coaches would watch film, talk and make a decision by Tuesday at the latest.
The two participants in the competition, senior Kevin Lopina and sophomore Marshall Lobbestael, each made his case, alternating between the top two offensive units.
Lopina was 9 of 11 for 123 yards, threw the only touchdown pass – a 7-yard connection with freshman Gino Simone, capping a 72-yard drive – and didn’t make any glaring mistakes.
Neither did Lobbestael, who finished 7 of 13 for 88 yards, while coming up with completions on three of his five third-down attempts.
“I think I played well,” Lopina said. “I made some right reads, maybe a bad ball here or there, but for the most part I felt I got us in the right place, where we need to be. I felt like today, everything I learned at camp I put together.”
Lobbestael and Lopina both expressed a desire to know who is No. 1, but each said they had higher priorities: winning games.
“If I’m going back to long snapper, I don’t even care,” Lobbestael said. “I’ll do whatever. It doesn’t matter.”
Though the action on the turf was uneven, there were some standouts. Xavier Hicks blocked a Dan Wagner punt. Reid Forrest’s three punts were, in order: 37 yards and out-of-bounds at the 7; 53 yards with a 9-yard return; and 62 yards, downed on the 2. Simone caught four passes for 56 yards. Jared Karstetter, undeterred by defensive pass interference, caught a 37-yard toss from Lopina.
The action off the field, however, held almost as much interest. Starting cornerback Brandon Jones, who sprained his right ankle Tuesday, had a brace on and ran without a limp on the sidelines, even cutting back and forth. So did running back James Montgomery, out since last week with an MCL strain. Receivers Jeshua Anderson (hamstring) and Jeffrey Solomon (ankle) were both suited and ran extensively off to the side.
To make sure the injured list didn’t grow, whistles blew quickly, there was no tackling and some starters – running backs Dwight Tardy, Logwone Mitz and defensive tackle Toby Turpin – were used sparingly or not at all.
“They’re a little nicked up, but nothing serious,” Wulff said of the group watching. “We know where they are at. We felt an extra 15 to 20 reps today wasn’t going to make a difference.”
A difference no, but a line of demarcation, yes. Camp is over.
“We’ve reached that point where we’re ready for a focal shift,” senior center Kenny Alfred said. “We’re ready to dive in completely. We’ve been looking at Stanford here and there, but … we’re at that point where we’re ready to shift into a different sort of view than just playing against the same color every single day.”