Five injured WSU starters expected to return
PULLMAN – Sometimes, Sundays around the Washington State University football program can seem a little like an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.”
The hospital part, not the drama.
With 27 players unable to practice last week due to injury or illness, the Cougars suited up 50 to take on UCLA.
Though that group was overmatched, with the Bruins rolling to a 43-7 victory, at least no one was added to the injury list – at least not yet.
“No one new, we don’t think, that should (be out) until we get more information (today) or the next day,” coach Paul Wulff said Sunday night when asked if there were any new injuries. “But no, no one that was obvious.”
Much of Wulff’s conference call was dominated by the WSU (1-9, 0-7 Pac-10) injury situation, most notably five starters who missed the UCLA game but are expected to return sometime before the season ends after Thanksgiving weekend’s Apple Cup.
The key name, of course, is freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel, who suffered a subluxation of his kneecap at Arizona a week ago.
“His health is still in question,” Wulff said. “He made some progress early. It’s kind of slowed down … in terms of the healing. Again he’s very questionable for this week.”
Wulff was still pondering who would start if Tuel were out another week, having to choose between Saturday’s starter, Marshall Lobbestael, and senior Kevin Lopina.
“We don’t know whether it’s Marshall or Kevin,” Wulff said. “We have all day (today) to see how that’s going to unfold and what direction we want to go on Tuesday.”
Lobbestael, who missed the end of last season with a major knee injury, was pulled early in the second quarter against UCLA, having thrown interceptions on three of his first five passes.
“The mistakes early kind of stymied any momentum we had going into the game,” Wulff said of WSU’s 14-0 deficit after 9 minutes, 43 seconds. “We just couldn’t overcome the early points we gave up.”
Lopina relieved, had one long run, threw for the Cougars’ only touchdown and generally added a spark to a listless offense.
“Kevin did some good things,” Wulff said. “To do what he did in a live situation, he hadn’t been in that situation in a long time, he did a good job.”
Of the others who did not play – tight end Tony Thompson (concussion), safety Chima Nwachukwu (ankle), kicker Nico Grasu (quadriceps) – or played sparingly – defensive tackle Bernard Wulfgramm (back) – Wulff was non-committal on their playing status this week.
The game time for Saturday’s home game with Oregon State is still to be determined as WSU tries to televise the contest. Due to other Pac-10 television commitments, however, it will start no later than 2 p.m. The 20th-ranked Beavers (7-3, 5-2) have been installed as a 31-point favorite.