Kegel too tough to sideline?

EVERYONE KNOWS BY this stage of the season that the senior quarterback from Montana is one tough football player. But you just might want to add the phrase "resilient as all get-out" to his considerable list of attributes.

"Matt Kegel is much better than I thought he'd be", said coach Bill Doba.  Kegel suffered an AC joint sprain against UCLA, adding to an already lengthy medical report that includes injuries to both shoulders and a knee.  Precautionary X-rays were negative, ruling out any fracture.

"He stopped by yesterday and was swinging that arm around, ‘What do you mean, I'm not starting?!'  He was giving me a hard time," coach Doba laughed.

"We'll wait and see.  He'll be reevaluated on Wednesday.  We'll wait and see how he warms up, see how it feels, and what the doctors have to say," said Doba.  But there's no thought of saving Kegel for the Apple Cup the following week.  If Kegel is healthy, he'll be in there on Saturday. 

"If he's ready to go, he's our starter; he'll start." 

And if Kegel can't go, Josh Swogger is ready.  "He graded out well, really.  He had a couple dropped balls or his stats would have been a lot better..  He's got a great demeanor.  He's not happy when he throws an interception or doesn't do something right, but he doesn't dwell on it." 

"I think corners, quarterbacks, receivers - they've got to have short memories (in order to be successful.)"

Virgil Williams (thigh bruise) will be held out of some drills in practice Tuesday.  "On Virgil, we'll probably go limited..  And hopefully, he'll be able to (fully) practice (Wednesday)," Doba said.

Al Genatone has a brace on and was set to give it a go in practice on Tuesday.  "He's going to give it a try and see how it works," said Doba.

Cody Boyd is also going to test out his injured hip.  "I think he'll be ok, (for Saturday)," Doba said.

"We might put some of those guys in yellow jerseys, (so they don't add insult to injury)", said Doba.  "I think we're going to be pretty healthy, really, as healthy as we can expect (at this time of year)."

"The guy we probably won't have would be Scott Davis.  That's two guys in one spot when you take he and Genatone out of the equation, but Pat Bennett and Steve Dildine did an admirable job, and with more reps (this week) they'll be even better."

And if Genatone and Davis can't go at LB, who would be the starter?  "Probably Bennett," said Doba. 

Speaking of linebackers, MLB Don Jackson was again mentioned by Doba for his standout performance against UCLA. 

"He's really played well the last three, maybe even four weeks.. What he's got is a great burst.  And he's a real hard-nosed kid; he'll run into a brick wall.  He's very physical.. and he can run.  That fits any defense." 

It brings up one dilemma coaches face with JUCO players; They all want to play and start right away.

"We wish you could redshirt every junior college kid.. you've got them for only two years, and (it takes until) the second year it seems they really figure it out, and do a great job."

"But if you tell a good junior college kid you're going to redshirt him, you can kiss him goodbye," said Doba. 

Tight End U
One thing that didn't get much play from the UCLA game.  Sean O'Connor played TE in certain game situations, and excelled.  Both he and coach Robin Pflugrad deserve a huge amount of credit for the defensive tackle's performance on offense.

"The guy that did a nice job for us was Sean O'Connor.. we put him in No. 85 at end, and Sean was a basketball player in high school; he can catch the ball and he runs well.  And I thought he did a nice job blocking Dave Ball. 

Might have to also start referring to Washington State as "Tight End U" if Pflugrad keeps this up.

Bring on the Devils
Turning to this week's game in Martin Stadium, Doba isn't underestimating Arizona State.  Not one bit.  "Andrew Walter has a sprained ankle.. but I know he's a very talented kid." 

(Walter in his press conference today said his ankle is feeling better than it did last week at this time.)

"Skyler Fulton is their leading receiver, does a good job running disciplined routes and catches the ball well -- They've got talent.  Mike Karney is a Washington kid (too), he'll come in here fired up," said Doba.  (Karney, the senior fullback is from Kent, and Fulton is from Olympia.)

"Loren Wade the redshirt freshman.. he makes yards after contact, he's not a flashy speed guy, but he's a good power runner and a good solid football player.  Their offensive line is good too."

"I think Coach (Dirk) Koetter said it too; they've just been ‘hot and cold'.  They were battling ‘SC tooth and nail.. and then kinda like us, in the 4th quarter, SC ran away with it," Doba said. 

(ASU was up on USC in the second half, and was also tied very late in the 3rd before Southern Cal put on a 4th quarter blitz, ultimately reeling off 27 unanswered points.) 

"There's a reason ASU was picked in the Top 3 in the preseason, they've got good talent," Doba mentioned.

More on Coleman
There's also some pretty good talent on the Washington State side.  Such as Erik Coleman. 

As CF.C reported earlier, Coleman was named the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week Tuesday for his performance in the Cougars' 31-13 win over UCLA.  Coleman is the first Cougar to win the award since Lamont Thompson earned the honor in 2001, also against UCLA. 

Coleman will be added to the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes annually to the best defensive player in college football, to be presented Dec. 8th.)

"That's really quite an honor for him, and he earned it.. That's a great example of a guy who's stayed here all summer, who's been a good leader for us.  When he was injured last Spring and couldn't go through Spring ball, he was out there in shorts every day, back in the secondary, like another coach - making calls."

"And he's paid the price.  He's put in his time.  And I couldn't be happier for him than to see him get some recognition," said Doba.

The importance of Leadership
As he has since Sunday, Doba ended by saying the Cougs are not looking past Arizona State, and ahead to the UW.

"When is it?  Is there an Apple Cup?" Doba laughed.

"We've got to play Arizona State.  Somebody asked me earlier, ‘Are you going to try and save Kegel for the Apple Cup'?  No.  If he's ready, he's going to go." 

This game is of utmost importance.  And the leadership on the team, as they have all year, are performing like coaches, making sure every teammate gets the message.

"And they're seniors, they realize it..  We've got a good leadership.  Al Genatone's a good leader, and Jeremey Williams, Jason David, and of course Erik Coleman and Matt Kegel - those guys know what its all about and they're not afraid to speak their minds.  If things aren't going right, they'll tell ‘em."

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