It's an either/or situation

IT'S COMING RIGHT down to the wire: Will he or won't he? <b>Matt Kegel</b>'s outlook for Saturday became clearer today. Elsewhere on the injury front, the Cougs lose a hoss in practice this week, joining two linebackers who also will be out vs. ASU.

Coach Bill Doba felt comfortable saying Kegel would probably play in this Saturday's televised battle with the Sun Devils in Martin Stadium --- provided there are no setbacks and Kegel is able to warm up properly come game time. 

"I think he'll probably play.. I feel good about that, but we'll find out when he warms up for the ballgame and see how the shoulder feels."

"And if he feels good, we'll let him start," said Doba.

However, the coach added its not a certainty.  "With that kind (of shoulder injury), you just don't know.  And we'll find out (when he warms up on Saturday)," said Doba. 

He later went on to say Kegel and Josh Swogger could be listed as an "either/or", as far as who will be the starter.

Kegel, for his part, went through most of practice on Wednesday.  And the only reason the senior came out was because the coaches pulled him towards the end -- practice was winding down with some running plays and they thought it best Kegel head in to get more treatment from the training staff.

In other injury news, things weren't quite as promising as they were earlier in the week. 

"Al Genatone, I doubt will play," said Doba.  The senior linebacker tried to practice this week in a brace but it looks like the ankle hasn't healed up sufficiently enough for Saturday's game.

Genatone's replacement at linebacker from last week is also out with an injury.  "Scott Davis will not play," said Doba.  Davis suffered an MCL sprain, originally diagnosed at 2-4 weeks.  His status for the final regular season game will be reevaluated next week.

Pat Bennett or Steve Dildine will get the start at Big Al's linebacker spot.  "You can list both of those guys as ‘either/or', as well," said Doba.  Bennett came in when Genatone was first injured against USC, but it's a safe bet both of them will see playing time against the Sun Devils.

"Virgil Williams will be ok, I think.  He's going to practice (Thursday)," said Doba of the safety.  Williams is coming off a quadriceps bruise.

The tight ends unit, which had suffered numerous injuries over the last few weeks, continues to improve.  "Cody Boyd is in good shape," said Doba.  Boyd will be back after injuring his hip against USC and missing the UCLA game. 

But there was more disappointing news on the injury front.

"And Billy Knotts will not play," said Doba.  The coach went on to say the right guard hyper-extended his knee in practice this week.  "They did an MRI on it and he's got a little stretch of the ACL but he did not tear it," said the coach. 

Nick Mihlhauser started last Saturday in place of Knotts at right guard and will do so again this week. 

Doba also mentioned Troy Bienemann was good to go, and hadn't experienced any more problems this week from the disc in his back.

Arizona State
TURNING TO THIS week's opponent, Doba says he's surprised the Devils haven't done more offensively.  "Yes.  I think Andrew Walter is really a good quarterback.  The offensive line is pretty good.  Skyler Fulton is a good receiver, and so is Derek Hagan."

"Loren Wade is a good strong kid and Hakim Hill can run the ball; he's got (quite a bit) of quickness..  Those are two good, strong, running backs.  And Mike Karney is a real good fullback for them, he's 250-pounds and he's got good hands out of the backfield." 

"They're a drop back, West Coast style offense, (similar) to Oregon in a lot of ways," said Doba.

Asked about the ASU defense, Doba mentioned the Sun Devils, on film, employ the 4-2-5, but not exclusively.  When there are two backs in the backfield, ASU goes to the more traditional 4-3. 

"They take one of the safeties out and put in another linebacker; Jordan Hill.  Probably with us, as much one-back as we are, they'll (probably show more) 4-2 defense." 

"And Jimmy Verdon, their defensive end, is a really, really good football player." said Doba. 

Doba mentioned ASU zone blitzes a lot, like everyone else, but they're not a real big blitz team.  However, Doba noted teams have had success blitzing on the Washington State o-line; so the Cougs will be watchful for the Sun Devils to do just that - perhaps more than they've shown to this point on film.

The (BIG) skill players
On the offensive line's performance last week, Doba was quite pleased with Mihlhauser's effort at guard.  "And Josh Parrish had another good ballgame." 

"The other guy that surprised us was (converted tight end) Sean O'Connor.  He did a nice job blocking on Dave Ball.  And Dave Ball is one good defensive end," said Doba.

With UCLA stunting quite a bit inside, and with O'Connor matched up on Ball, "That's how we were able to get outside (in our running game)," said the coach, of a game in which Jonathan Smith rushed for 130 yards.

"I thought our offensive line improved, they came together," he added.  Doba also mentioned C Mike Shelford didn't play his best game, as he had a few of the Cougs' false start penalties.

"And nobody felt any worse about it than he did..  But he was good the whole second half - And he'll be good this week.  He promised me," Doba said with a chuckle.

Table for four?  No waiting.
There are still plenty of seats still available for Arizona State.  The Sports Information Department at Washington State said at least 2,000 tickets remain available.

Someone who's been there
Coach Timm Rosenbach has had a huge hand in the success of Kegel this year; and also in the development of Swoggs.  "Oh I think he's done a great job," said Doba of his quarterbacks coach.

"He has a good rapport with his players, he's very good in the staff meeting room (with coach Mike Levenseller), and he's also got a great sense of humor; he keeps everybody loose - and from the offensive standpoint he's got a lot of great ideas."

Of utmost import is that Rosey has been able to take his playing experience, and effectively translate it; He's an excellent teacher - something not all great athletes are necessarily good at..

"He and coach Levy draw routes and such - but Timm has been there.  He's been in that role.  He's been that quarterback."

"And he's been booed in this stadium.  (And things like) that helped Matt a lot.  Rosenbach set a record for most interceptions.  He went in and asked if he could be moved to linebacker," said Doba.  (Fortunately, former coach Dennis Erickson knew better.) 

"But that experience that he has -- is simply invaluable.  You can't put a price tag on that." 

"He's doing a great job for us," said Doba.


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