Swogger is captain and top gun

HEAD COACH <b>Bill Doba</b> formally confirmed today what most observers expected: That <b>Josh Swogger</b> will be the Cougars' No. 1 signal caller when fall practices begin in August. However, Swogger's chief rival for the job, <b>Alex Brink</b> will still have a shot at unseating him.

Swogger and Brink each graded out well during spring workouts, but Swogger's experience last season -- he saw action in nine games and played considerably late in the season -- tipped the scales toward him, Doba said.

"I don't want to make a big deal about this - we're going to go with Josh Swogger.  He'll be the starter going into fall camp. And Alex Brink is right behind him," Doba said.

"Josh is a heck of a quarterback. He did a good job for us last year and in his performance in the spring. He played well. He also has (game) experience in critical situations," he said.

Swogger is a classic dropback passer with a cannon for an arm, while Brink is more mobile.

Doba said he would have liked to have a more clear-cut No. 1 coming out of spring drills, but said it's heartening to know there's talent to turn to off the bench if necessary.

"They're both really good. We (Doba, OC Mike Levenseller and QB coach Timm Rosenbach) just thought let's start with Josh and see where each one goes."

Doba made no bones that his starter, be it Swogger or Brink, will be THE quarterback when the season starts. "We're not going to alternate series or quarters," he said. He also said no one would be on a short leash.

The head coach also noted that the evaluation of the quarterbacks was made more difficult because so many receivers (Chris Jordan, Jason Hill and Trandon Harvey) would injured during spring balls. That's why dropped passes were so rampant over the last month.

Chris Hurd, a third QB who was expected to be in the middle of the battle for the starting job, is in the hospital with a bad knee. The redshirt junior, who missed all of last season due to surgery to correct a congenitive knee ailment, kept it quiet during spring workouts that the knee was bothering him, Doba said.

A bruised throwing hand kept Hurd sidelined the last week of spring practices.

Because he has screws in his leg, doing an MRI isn't a slam dunk option as it could cause serious complications, Doba noted.

If there's no threat of permanent injury to the knee going forward, Hurd will be back in August to battle Mike Reilly for the No. 3 spot, Doba said. Otherwise, the Cougars would like to make him a student coach.

NOTABLE NOTES:

* Doba said the players have elected four co-captains for the 2004 season: Swogger, offensive lineman Sam Lightbody, linebacker Will Derting and safety Hamza Abdullah.

* Virtually every player is expected to be in Pullman when the summer quarter starts on June 7, Doba said.

* Like quarterback, the starting running back spot is hotly contested, Doba said. Chris Bruhn will be the No. 1 guy will August workouts begin, but Allen Thompson is a close No. 2.

* Doba said the work ethic and attitude of his team is "awesome." He also said the cohesiveness and chemistry is outstanding. In addition, the kids take tremendous pride in WSU's string of 10-win seasons and make no bones about the fact they expect to continue the high level of play.

* Freshman tight end Ben Woodard injured a knee last week and could be sidelined for all of 2004.


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