November 12, 2009 in Sports

Cougs aim to pass chemistry

By The Spokesman-Review
 

COMING UP

Saturday: UCLA at WSU, 2 p.m.

PULLMAN – Maybe it was Knute Rockne. Or maybe it was his Notre Dame quarterback Gus Dorais.

But back in football’s ancient days, somebody had to be the first to say the quarterback or receiver were “on the same page” when describing a big pass play.

The phrase has become as much a part of football as the trap block or the kicking tee.

Getting the quarterback and receiver “on the same page” seems to be as important in the passing game as a strong arm or good hands.

So just how hard is it to develop chemistry between receivers and quarterbacks?

“It takes a while,” Washington State wide receiver Jared Karstetter said. “I think that’s the hardest thing when you’re young.”

The ability to read each other’s minds is crucial in the modern passing game, Karstetter said, because every pattern WSU runs has options depending on where the defenders are and what they do.

The Cougars (1-8, 0-6 Pac-10) have used three starting quarterbacks this season: senior Kevin Lopina, who was the opening day quarterback; sophomore Marshall Lobbestael, who took over in the third game; and freshman Jeff Tuel, who earned the job in the fifth game and has kept it since.

But Tuel was sidelined in last week’s defeat to Arizona with a slight dislocation of his kneecap and probably will not be available against UCLA (4-5, 1-5) Saturday.

Lobbestael relieved and hooked up with Karstetter on a 64-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown that was a direct result of both being “on the same page.”

A play was called. Lobbestael changed it. Karstetter studied the coverage and signaled a new route. Reading the change, Lobbestael lofted the ball out front, Karstetter snatched it with one hand, shed the defender and scored.

It was Karstetter’s sixth touchdown reception – he’s tied with James Rodgers of Oregon State for the Pac-10 lead – and third in three games.

“It was a great play, but I have complete confidence, Jeff and I and any of the quarterbacks, we all have complete trust in all the receivers,” Lobbestael said.

That trust is not only built in practice, but after as well.

Most nights, Lobbestael and Tuel remain after, throwing pass after pass to Gino Simone (28 catches, one touchdown), Karstetter (27 catches), Jeffrey Solomon (22), Daniel Blackledge (22, one touchdown) and Johnny Forzani (eight catches, two touchdowns, including a school-record 99-yard score from Tuel), working on, well, there’s only one time-honored phrase that describes it.

“We’ve been throwing with Marsh, Jeff and Kevin pretty much every day since the summer, for months and months,” Karstetter said. “So everyone’s pretty much on the same page.”


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