SEATTLE – Marshall Lobbestael has started at quarterback 14 times in his five-year Washington State career.
It’s No. 15 that everyone is wondering about.
That would be this afternoon, at CenturyLink Field, in the Apple Cup.
In a sense, it’s also Lobbestael’s first start. After all, the rivalry game is a different animal.
“I didn’t start that one in Seattle,” Lobbestael said, looking back to the 2009 game in Husky Stadium, his only Apple Cup experience.
“I came in when (Kevin Lopina) got hurt and got my bell rung a little bit,” he added. “I just remember it was a rough game. Offensively, we couldn’t really do anything.”
Lobbestael was knocked dizzy in the first half that season and had to pass a series of concussion tests to return after halftime. He did, finishing 9 of 22 for just 71 yards as WSU was shut out 30-0.
Lobbestael insists he’s not the same quarterback, and his passing statistics this season – 179 for 299, with 16 touchdowns, seven interceptions and 2,240 yards – would seem to bear that out.
“I’m a couple years older and I think that has helped me a little bit,” he said. “I’ve gotten some real quality experience under my belt this year (and) we’ve had more success than we had that particular season.
“I’m more prepared for this week than I was a couple years ago.”
Lobbestael’s career has been up and down and not just because he has always seemed to be the second choice at his position.
He started three games as a freshman before going down with a knee injury against Oregon State. He started three games as a sophomore, still limited by the knee. Healthy last season, he watched as Jeff Tuel threw for 2,780 yards.
That was the plan this season as well, until Tuel fractured his clavicle against Idaho State in the opener. That made Lobbestael the starter until Tuel came back vs. Stanford. When Tuel reinjured the shoulder against Oregon State, that made Lobbestael the starter again.
But when the Cougars struggled against California and started slowly vs. Arizona State, Connor Halliday came in and threw for 494 yards. It was back to the bench for Lobbestael.
Now Halliday is out, after suffering a lacerated liver in the overtime loss to Utah, and Lobbestael is the guy.
“It’s out of the ordinary,” Lobbestael said of his on-and-off starting situation. “It doesn’t happen to a lot of guys. Our quarterback situation is pretty weird, uncommon. When you have a situation like what we’ve got, you’re going to have guys kind of go up and down. So I guess that’s what I’m doing.”
Basically, he’s the only guy. Today’s backup, sophomore David Gilbertson, son of former UW coach Keith Gilbertson, has thrown one pass this season.
“We’ve got to prepare for everything,” Lobbestael said of what he expects from the Huskies. “I’ve seen a lot of looks being here five years. I know our offense, I know our protections. It’s just going to be a matter of recognizing (what UW is doing) at game speed on the field.”
With this year’s game at CenturyLink Field – UW shut down Husky Stadium after the Oregon game Nov. 5 to get renovations started – Lobbestael knows there is only one way to go out.
“My biggest thing is I want to win, more than anything, for Coug Nation, for the team, for myself,” he said. “I want to win for everyone.
“But at the same time … this last week, I’ve just got to have fun. I’ve got to just enjoy the game.
“People who know me, know that I’m going to go down fighting. I’m going to lay it all on the line.”