Eleven hats to the football

The head man at Washington State discusses injury news, reflections on Oregon and more. Just what you need to kick off your week. Meanwhile, the announcement Sunday of a change at the top of the Wildcat Football program begs the question: What team will show up at Martin Stadium come Saturday?

"I was sorry to hear that - sorry it didn't work out for John," said coach Bill Doba on the firing of John Mackovic at Arizona.  Doba expressed concern as to which Arizona team will show up in Pullman on Saturday.  "Its an opportunity for them.  And any Pac-10 team can beat anyone else," he stressed.

Doba doesn't expect his players to gloat.  Not this group.  The head coach said his veteran players understand that's a pretty good way to find yourself in trouble the next game.  Doba rattled off some of the leaders on Defense who won't let this team get complacent.  Safeties Erik Coleman and Virgil Williams both earned praise - as did another member of the secondary.

"Jason David is electric," said Doba.  (Editor's note - No mention on if Samie Parker received a shock when his hand came in contact with David's facemask.)   "Al Genatone leads the linebackers and makes the calls, and Jeremey Williams says his piece with the defensive line."

On the running game, after looking at the tape, Doba was both disappointed and encouraged; "We were just an inch or two away from making some big runs."  He went on to say he thinks the Cougs will put together a pretty good running attack in the weeks to come.

"It was a great win for our program, for our kids.  The ball bounced our way a few times.. but it bounced their way too."  He also mentioned it would be pretty hard to play much better on defense, given a D and Special teams that forced a school record NINE turnovers.  "There are of course things to work on," Doba added.

Perhaps most pleasing to the former defensive coordinator was a defense that continues to fly to the football.  "Eleven hats to the football," said Doba, explaining why the tipped passes resulted in interceptions.  And also one of the prime tenets of this veteran squad's philosophy.

But coach Doba wasn't thinking the game was over at halftime, unlike the network broadcasting the game.  "I wasn't comfortable until the 4th quarter.  I know ABC left at halftime.  I wasn't ready to leave at halftime," Doba cracked.

The Cougs will continue to work on decreasing the number of penalties this week.  But its worth noting the Cougs were not flagged for any of the excessive celebration fouls that have plagued them in recent weeks.

As for seeing one player's familiar mug in Oregon, Doba said it was great to see Chris Hurd come up from California to see the team.  "He's a competitor.  He's focused on Spring Ball." 

As he continues his rehab, a word to the wise: Don't count out Hurd.  Given his work ethic, it would not be a surprise to see him ready and rarin' to go when Spring Camp rolls around.

In injury news, Mike Shelford was "more like doubtful", rather than questionable for Saturday's game.  Doba said George Yarno, in his twelve years, had one center-quarterback exchange that was fumbled and lost.  The Cougs had two at Oregon.  As might be expected, Yarno is less than thrilled.  Expect some intense work on that this week.

Sam Lightbody had a slight knee strain and is questionable for Saturday.  Chris Bruhn ran on Sunday, and will be evaluated further on Tuesday, and also later in the week, to see if he can make his cuts on that injured ankle. 

Billy Knotts "played very well" according to Doba, noting Knotts was really limited with the one hand in a cast.  OL Norvell Holmes may see his first action of the year against ‘Zona.  Holmes is coming off a back injury.

Coach Doba was asked Sunday how the Cougs have put together such a great start to the season.  Perhaps surprising the questioner, the answer wasn't confined to schemes, or players, or even the '03 season.  It went beyond all of that.

"The biggest difference is we have some facilities to recruit to now," said Doba. 

And there it is.. Short term. Long term. Discussion, anyone?

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