Lots of hurt to go around

WHEN COUGAR coach <b>Bill Doba</b> gave his injury report Sunday night, it may have been easier to list the players <I>not</I> nursing wounds. In addition, there was a bigger hurt -- fans booing <b>Matt Kegel</b> -- that weighed heavily on the head man's mind.

Doba was more than a little disappointed with the boos he heard thrown Matt Kegel's way on Saturday against Oregon State, and pointed out interceptions are caused by a multitude of things. A poor throw by the quarterback is just one of those factors.

"That kid doesn't deserve that," Doba said sternly.  "And when the chips are down, by God, (Kegel) made some great throws.  There's so much more to it (than meets the eye).  Reading coverages; going through progressions -- Matt just studies hard, he's a good student of the game."

Although far from their finest 60 minutes, Doba thought the Cougs' come-from-behind victory over OSU showed a championship-level of resiliency by his troops.  An important trait to possess as the No. 6 Cougars visit the No. 3 ranked Southern Cal next Saturday in what shapes us as the biggest game of the season.

"It wasn't a whole lot of fun to coach," said Doba of WSU's 36-30 win over the Beavs.  "But what impressed me the most, when we were behind, our intensity picked up," he said.  The players "fought through adversity, time after time."

Some of that adversity was in the form of injuries.  

Receiver Chris Jordan pulled a groin muscle Saturday.  More will be known later this week on his status for USC. 

Kegel (shoulders) is sore, and "it takes him a long time to warm up" but Doba said he'll be ok for Saturday.

Linebacker Pat Bennett suffered a strained bicep. However, Doba said Bennett should be "ok to go."

Karl Paymah suffered "a little hip pointer" but the cornerback should also be ready come Saturday.

Troy Bienemann has a bulging disk in his back.  That the tight end gutted out long snapping duties in quite a bit of pain is simply a testament to his will.  Doba is hopeful the disk will respond to treatment this week, but it's a wait and see kind of injury.

OL Charles Harris, starting in place of injured tackle Sam Lightbody, suffered a high ankle sprain and his replacement Patrick Afif also went down, with a hip flexor.

Doba said Lightbody (knee) "should be back" for Saturday.  Center Mike Shelford, however, was a "maybe" in Doba's mind as of Sunday.  The coach said Shelford might "split time" with Nick Mihlhauser, but also noted Mihlhauser has been playing well of late.  The coaches will limit the practice time for Shelford this week by design.

The Cougs should have their top three running backs ready for USC as Doba said Jermaine Green looks to be "good to go this Saturday."  Green saw limited duty on Saturday against the Beavers, and Doba said he felt good on Sunday.

Doba noted multiple injuries on the offensive line have hurt the unit's ability to be productive both this season, as well as in the OSU game.  The coaches were constructive and worked on solving the problem at halftime rather than chewing the players out.  "At halftime, our coaches did an awesome job," said Doba of the proactive, positive approach.

The players followed the lead. 

Offensive line coach George Yarno found a combination that worked in the second half, said Doba, by inserting Riley Fitt-Chappell into the tackle spot after Harris and Afif suffered injuries.

Also at halftime and throughout the game, the defense was fully supporting their teammates on offense.  "They're up there cheering for the offense.  They're saying, ‘Don't worry, we'll get the ball back for you.'  There's no finger pointing," said Doba.

Turning to Southern Cal, the coach mentioned offensive coordinator Norm Chow does "a heckuva job" in trying to limit opponents' substitution packages and make them play with their base personnel on defense.  "They try to get the mismatches," said Doba. 

From what Doba said Sunday night, the mindset of Washington State right now is "We lose any game, we're out" of the conference race. 

"We're going to get healed up a bit, and we'll be ready to go," said Doba.


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