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Cougs defend Brink’s effort

PULLMAN – From the moment the final gun sounded on Washington State University’s 44-33 loss at Oregon State on Saturday, the Cougars have protected quarterback Alex Brink as if he were surrounded by Hall of Fame offensive linemen.

Brink’s four interceptions were not all the fault of the sophomore quarterback, coaches and players have insisted. Poor routes, missed reads and bad fortune were the culprits, they said. Don’t forget the school-record 531 passing yards, they reminded.

In fact, only one person around WSU football has been willing to point a finger at Brink – Brink himself.

“Coming off the loss, the contribution that I had to that loss with the interceptions (the record) doesn’t mean a lot,” Brink said. “I guess I’ve never been in a game where we really should have won and our team lost. And the loss was a lot due to my play. So that’s something I really feel like I can learn from.”

The quarterback said he spent plenty of time in the office of quarterback coach Timm Rosenbach going over film, finding the errors from Saturday. Perhaps most important, Rosenbach made sure to note that Brink’s not the first Cougars quarterback to chuck four interceptions in a game.

“He was talking about his sophomore year. He had two four-pick games and six returned for touchdowns over the course of the year,” Brink said. (A peek at the record books reveals that Rosenbach also had a five-interception game in that 1987 season. And three other WSU signal-callers have thrown six in a game.) “It happens to everybody. … I learned some things, looked at it and realized that there really was a lot more good than bad that came out of it.”

Head coach Bill Doba confirmed that sentiment. When asked Tuesday morning on a conference call if backup Josh Swogger would play this week, he swatted the question.

“The guy threw for 531 yards, threw two bad passes,” he said later that day. “And (the others) were the fault of someone else. He’s playing about as well as we expected or better than we expected.”

While questions still remain since Oregon State was the first significant opponent of the season, Doba is on the whole correct. Even with the four interceptions Saturday, Brink has thrown for 10 touchdowns to six picks on the year. The gaudy yardage total against the Beavers has him averaging better than 300 a game. His completion percentage is 58.6 percent, a big improvement from the 50 percent he hit upon in five-plus games last season.

As Brink pointed out – with an assist from Rosenbach – four interceptions aren’t the worst-case scenario.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I had thrown six,” he said, eyes rolling at the thought. “I’ve moved on and I’m ready to concentrate on Stanford.”

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