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Oregon to face Washington State without starting quarterback Justin Herbert

UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 2, 2017, 10:18 p.m.

In this Saturday, Sept. 30 2017, file photo, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, center, drives into the end zone for a touchdown against California’s Quentin Tartabull, bottom, and Devante Downs during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Eugene. The Ducks are reeling from the aftermath of Saturday’s game against California, with both quarterback Justin Herbert and running back Royce Freeman both injured in the victory. (Chris Pietsch / Associated Press)
In this Saturday, Sept. 30 2017, file photo, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, center, drives into the end zone for a touchdown against California’s Quentin Tartabull, bottom, and Devante Downs during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Eugene. The Ducks are reeling from the aftermath of Saturday’s game against California, with both quarterback Justin Herbert and running back Royce Freeman both injured in the victory. (Chris Pietsch / Associated Press)

PULLMAN – Justin Herbert won’t be in the fold this weekend and the Ducks may have to take a deep dive into the depth chart to find a healthy quarterback for Saturday’s game against No. 11 Washington State.

Herbert is expected to return later this year from a broken collarbone, but UO’s starting QB won’t be available to play the Cougars, coach Willie Taggart confirmed Monday during a news conference.

Taylor Alie is Oregon’s backup, but the redshirt senior also left Saturday’s game against Cal with an injury and is listed as “day to day.” Braxton Burmeister, a true freshman who was the third QB the Ducks used versus the Golden Bears, could make his first career start against WSU, which ranks 11th nationally and second in the Pac-12 in total defense (275 yards allowed per game).

“We have some guys who’ve played the position and can run the offense,” Taggart said. “… I do think Braxton or Taylor or whoever we put in there can go in there and run our offense.”

It could be a few days before the Cougars know which Duck is starting under center this weekend, but that shouldn’t alter WSU’s defensive plans.

“I think they’ll probably try to do the same stuff,” coach Mike Leach said. “They want to run the quarterback some. They’ll throw it some – pop and play action passes – but they want to run with it, so I guess the biggest factor would be to figure out how well he runs.”

Oregon’s talented running back Royce Freeman exited the Cal game with an arm injury and is also questionable, Taggart said. Other Oregon players currently listed “day to day” include wide receivers Dillon Mitchell and Charles Nelson, tight end Jacob Breeland and linebacker AJ Hotchkins.

Taggart said the Ducks also lost linebacker Kaulana Apelu for the season with an ankle injury.