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Lobbestael works his way back

Sat., Sept. 19, 2009, midnight

PULLMAN – It’s been a long road back for Marshall Lobbestael.

But the redshirt sophomore from Oak Harbor, Wash., hasn’t let the potholes derail him along the journey from last Oct. 11 in Corvallis, Ore., to today at Martin Stadium.

Lobbestael started his third career game that night at Oregon State. He didn’t finish it. OSU defensive end Slade Norris took care of that with one blow to Lobbestael’s legs, tearing two ligaments in his left knee.

Lobbestael made the most of his time over the winter and spring. By spring practice he was drilling but not scrimmaging. In August he was ready to go. But still without a strong base, Lobbestael struggled to regain his accuracy and senior Kevin Lopina earned the starting nod the first two games.

After last week’s 38-20 loss to Hawaii, though, WSU coach Paul Wulff made a change. Lobbestael will start today against Southern Methodist (2-0, 1-0 Conference USA).

“Marshall’s done a good job,” Wulff said of Lobbestael’s preparation. “It’s the first time he’s had the opportunity to take this many reps, so it’s been good for him.”

SMU’s defense, though porous when it comes to yardage, leads the nation with nine interceptions.

“They are going to throw a lot of looks at us,” said Lobbestael, named captain by the team this week. “They play fast and they play hard.”

“They were opportunistic in the first two games,” offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy said of the Mustangs. “When it was thrown to them, they caught it, and took advantage of those things.”

No matter how Lobbestael performs – he’s 10 of 19 for 114 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in a reserve role – there is a bottom line. It rests on the success of the Cougars (0-2, 0-1 Pac-10).

“I hope Marshall has a hell of a game,” Sturdy said. “And I hope he leads the Cougars to victory.”

“The most important thing right now is just getting a win,” Lobbestael added.

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