Lobbestael reaffirms team-first attitude

PULLMAN -- Paul Wulff made it clear Monday that Marshall Lobbestael will be his starting quarterback Saturday evening at UCLA, but the door was left open enough for Jeff Tuel to march through later in the game if he's ready and able.

Tuel was a full participant at practice Monday for first time since breaking his left clavicle, and will don pads in today's session.

"I don't know how we'll play that out yet," Wulff said on how much time Tuel will see this week running with the first string. "Marshall (Lobbestael) will get the majority of them (reps)."

Wulff added that the plan for Tuel this week is to let him test the shoulder, and let fly on some deep balls and put his arm to work. On Monday night, Tuel practiced the same way he did in the previous three weeks, except he got some reps in with the 2s Monday during a 7-on-7 skeleton drill. Tuel's passes are crisp, but it's clear he's holding his left arm close to his body on his throws. Wulff said the main focus is to not rush him into anything and get him used to full pads (which he will be donning Tuesday.)

"We're going to give him some quality reps and let him work his way back into it," Wulff said. As for Lobbestael, the fifth-year senior said Monday that he hadn't been told yet that he was going to start, and that regardless if he were going to start or not, it would not affect his preparation this week.

"I'm preparing the same way whether I'm first, second, or third string. I can't wait for Jeff (Tuel) to get back. I'm pumped that he's recovering so good and I can't wait till he gets healthy. I'm going to keep preparing like I have been and my goal is to be ready to play whether that be the first snap or second or third string."

Lobbestael, who ranks high nationally in most quarterbacking statistical categories, added that he understands that the job is Tuel's once he is back at 100 percent. And just as Tuel has supported him, he will undoubtedly do the same.

"He's the starting quarterback of this program," Lobbestael said. "He's won the job, he's maintained it. I can't wait for him to get healthy. He's a great player, and there's a lot of things he has to offer this team that's made him a quarterback at such a high level. He established himself last year and he knows, and everyone knows, he can continue to grow. I'm excited for him to come back."

For now the job remains Lobbestael's, however, and senior leader has flourished in his time running the offense. Lobbestael threw for a career high 376 yards and three touchdowns in the 31-27 win at Colorado, but said Monday night that he want's to work hard this week to get better, and realized he made plenty of mistakes against the Buffs.

"When I woke up Sunday I told Jared (Karstetter) I was replaying the game in my head and there was a lot of stuff in my head that I missed," Lobbestael said. "I didn't want to watch the film because there was a lot of stuff I missed -- but it's all fixable which is good."

Lobbestael did say however that it was a good experience for the team to make the late comeback when their backs were against the wall in the fourth quarter, and that the win was a testament to the hard two weeks the team put in for their preparations.

"I couldn't be happier and I couldn't be more proud," Lobbestael said. "I sound old saying that, but I really am. I'm so happy for these guys, the young guys and the older guys. We definitely took a step in the game and it was good to accomplish what we did in the game."

As for the action on the field, it was a typical Monday night for the Cougs. There were a few players missing including starting MLB C.J. Mizell (foot) and starting WR Isiah Barton (ankle). Both suffered minor injuries against Colorado and are expected to return to practice today. With Mizell out, Mike Ledgerwood stepped in with the 1s on defense, while WRs Bobby Ratliff and Henry Eaddy saw more time running with the first team offense.

NOTABLE: Saturday's game at UCLA kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on Root Sports. The Bruins are a 3 1/2-point favorite.

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