The importance of routine

HOMECOMING WEEK. RANKED in the Top 15. The Cougs are on a roll. But an unknown quantity comes into Martin Stadium on Saturday. Arizona arrives fresh off a coaching change that may energize their football team. What kinds of changes do you make in order to avoid a letdown? None.

Coach Bill Doba isn't looking to shake things up.  Why would he?  Doba mentioned two factors that augur against a possible letdown this week.  They are 1) veteran leadership, and 2) the Cougs have not changed their routine one bit.

While Doba and staff have talked to the players about a letdown this week, "We haven't changed our schedule at all.  I've said it before; this is a senior bunch of kids.  We've had good intensity.  I think they'll come in (against Arizona) with new vigor," he said.

While confident the Cougs won't take the Wildcats lightly, Doba went on to say with the quality of athletes in the league, anything can happen in the Pac-10.  "Arizona is going to come in fired up.  We'll find out.." (how the Cougs respond to all the talk about a letdown.)

On the injury front, running back Chris Bruhn (ankle) has looked sharp in practice this week and is available to play after missing Oregon.  Right tackle Sam Lightbody (knee strain) practiced yesterday and is probable.  "We'll probably list (Lightbody) as a starter," said Doba.

Center Mike Shelford (neck stinger) is doubtful for Saturday.  Regarding the failed center-quarterback exchanges that plagued the triumvirate of Matt Kegel, Riley Fitt-Chappell and Nick Mihlhauser, Doba wasn't interested in pointing fingers.  While mentioning it's a combination of responsibilities, he said, "I don't care who's to blame.  Its just something we have to get fixed."

Mihlhauser is scheduled to get the start at center and has had a good week in practice.  Kegel is a little more comfortable getting the snap from Mihlhauser but Doba is confident in Fitt-Chappell as well, "Both those guys can do it", he said.   And he's also confident the exchange problems that occurred down in Autzen will not be repeated this week.

is improving each week, "progressing very well, both mentally and physically."   In addition to mentioning game experience, Doba said one reason for Kegel's high level of play has been improved fundamentals.  Timm Rosenbach has had a lot to do with that.  "Coach Rosenbach has really worked with him on (the fundamentals, such as) footwork," said Doba. 

Not that Kegel is satisfied with where he's at just yet.  And Rosenbach isn't shy about letting his quarterbacks know if something wasn't done well enough.  "And Matt has really responded to (that style)," said Doba.

EXPECT MARTIN STADIUM to be rocking on Saturday.  There's a buzz on campus right now.  "Our kids are excited..  Our student body is fired up," said Doba.

HOW MUCH OF a team effort was it on defense last week?  The Pursuit Player of the Week Award didn't go to an individual after last Saturday's 55-16 victory over the Ducks.  It was awarded to the entire D.

The Cougs host the Wildcats in Pullman at 2PM on Saturday.

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