Those who unite, those who divide

AFTER A LOSS like the one to Oregon, says Cougar head coach <b>Bill Doba</b>, you often see the uniters come to the fore. And sometimes there are the dividers, too. Make no mistake, Doba says, this Cougar team will stick together no matter what. Plus, the complete injury report including who could be back for Stanford, why the Cougs didn't throw more to <b>Jason Hill</b> and more. Doba also had a message for the Cougar Nation - "Don't give up on the Cougs. We'll be back."

You win as a team, you lose as a team. That was the message coach Bill Doba delivered to the team Sunday after the 41-38 setback to Oregon, a game that saw the Ducks put 27 points on the board in the fourth quarter. Don't expect Doba, any of the coaches, or any of the players to start pointing fingers at a defense that has been the primary reason the Cougs came into the game at 3-1.

"It was a total (team loss), you can't pin it on any one group," said Doba. "As I told the team in the team meeting - We win, everybody has a part in it, everybody is a part of the victory. And when you lose, everybody is a part of that also. Offensively, we could have scored 50 and we wouldn't have had this problem, and defensively obviously we could have held them to a lot less points."

Doba said the notion that the defensive line didn't get enough pressure up front is inaccurate. The Ducks piled up a lot of yards after the catch but that also doesn't mean its all on the secondary nor just on the linebackers.

"It wasn't so much up front (that was the problem), we got five sacks on the guy and we hit him a few times. It was a combination of things. It was a little bit with the front, the linebackers missed a few tackles and missed some guys in coverage, the secondary was soft and we had a couple of assignments blown."

He also took pains to repeatedly credit the Ducks for the win, saying it was "excellent, excellent execution on Oregon's part."

DOBA REMAINS COGNIZANT of that which doesn't show up on the stats sheet -- team chemistry. "We want to keep this team together.. And as I told the team today, there are 'uniters' and there are dividers. And we want to make sure we stay united. When you have a loss like this, that's when those dividers (can) start popping up. We want to stay together."

A day after the defeat, and with the benefit of having watching the game video, Doba wasn't dissatisfied with the effort put forth by the defense.

"It wasn't a lack of effort. They were flying around, probably not as good as 'Eleven hats to the ball', I think they were trying to make plays, maybe they were thinking too much, trying to make the big interception, but again, Oregon played well."

Execution was another matter.

"There's one easy way to get them off the field and that's to stop 'em on third down," said Doba. "They were 9 of 20 on third down and 3-3 on 4th down. We didn't make the plays and Oregon did."

ONE PLAY that didn't materialize as often as some fans would have liked - getting the ball in the hands of playmaker Jason Hill. After a first quarter that saw Hill haul in two touchdown passes, the redshirt sophomore was shut out the rest of the game. Why didn't the Cougs throw it Hill's way more often?

"It wasn't trouble getting it to him. He was open a couple times and we threw it to somebody else who was a little more open. They got up, and bumped a little bit, and hindsight is 20-20, we probably should have thrown deep to him again. But we had a lead, we were trying to run the short passing game and control the football a little bit more..."

While Doba went on to say there's always things every coach would do differently after a loss if they could line it up and do it again, the fact the Cougs didn't have the ball as often as they have all season - running a season low 62 plays -- also had something to do with it.

"Defensively, I thought we got a little bit soft when we were ahead by 14, we got a little conservative in the secondary, concerned with keeping everyone in front of us and trying not to give up the big pass. They ran those little out-cuts and they moved the ball down the field on us. They had 102 plays, that's way too many, obviously. I think the guys might have panicked a bit, they were trying to make big plays."

"(For example,) there was a blitz called... and the back peels off so (the blitzing player) instead goes with him. Well, the safety had the back covered. So there were a few blown assignments... they were just trying to make something happen, just trying to make a big play."

Offensively, the Cougs had been "this close" to breaking out before the Oregon game. Saturday, it was the defense that was stopped just short of making things happen.

"We came really close to making some of the plays but again, we missed more tackles than we have in a long time. But you know, the guy running the ball has something to do with the guy missing the tackle too. You can't just say we had a bad day - we certainly didn't have a very good day, but I think Oregon had a great day."

FROM HERE ON OUT, every game is going to be a stern test, starting with an improved Stanford team this Saturday. In the coming weeks, the Cougs play the three teams currently ahead of them in the standings; UCLA, ASU and USC.

"As I told out kids, 'Right now, we're tied for second in the Pac-10 with about three other teams and there are three other teams ahead of us. You still control your own destiny. The teams that are ahead of us, we get to play.'"

Where the Cougs go from here depends chiefly on getting a little bit better each week. Offensively, they've been doing that.

"Its just a matter of how much we can improve week to week and we must keep improving," said Doba. "I think offensively, our offensive line is improving, we're running the ball a little bit better."

After the Arizona win, Doba said the Cougs can't play like they did against the Wildcats and expect to win. Washington State certainly can't play like they did against Oregon and expect to beat Stanford, let alone the teams ahead of them in the Pac-10. But every unit of the team; offense, defense and special teams, has now had their moments this season. It's a matter of putting it all together each Saturday. Easier said than done. Yet, consider how the offense looked a few weeks ago and compare it to Saturday.

One of those players, Jerome Harrison, distinguished himself against the Ducks. The running game will continue to be "by committee", but Harrison has shouldered the load the last two weeks, and Doba said that is expected to be the case for Stanford.

"The guys (Chris Bruhn, Allen Thompson and Harrison) are all going to play. It really doesn't matter who starts in my mind or in anybody else's mind."

But besides Harrison, one player who could see more of the field is Thompson.

"I think if anybody (needs more time), Thompson needs a few more reps in there. He ran the ball pretty well too, made a great cut on that third down play down near the goal line and got us down to the five. But we'll keep running it by committee."

DRAWING A PARALLEL to the Oregon game from three years ago, Doba expects his team to come back strong against Stanford. In '01, Onterrio Smith and Maurice Morris ran wild on the Cougar D to the tune of 423 yards, (446 rushing yards total.)

The following week, then defensive coordinator Doba put together a game plan that shut down a very good offense in UCLA, holding DeShaun Foster and the Bruins to 85 yards rushing and 225 total yards. Doba and defensive coordinator Robb Akey are looking for a similar bounce back this Saturday. "By gosh, we'll get it going again."

Doba didn't think the loss was a blueprint for how to beat the Cougs' defense. Stanford isn't going to see the same things defensively as Oregon did -- For one thing, WSU changes up their blitz packages on a weekly basis. They'll start working on those and other aspects of the game plan come Tuesday. Doba and the team will put this loss to bed, and the focus will then be fully trained on the Cardinal.

"Our kids competed, we moved the football, at least there's some positive things we can take away from this ball game, even though there were still some negatives. But our kids battled and I can't say it enough, (Oregon) made plays. They played well."

"You know, (tough losses), they just happen sometimes. It's not the end of the world. And it's certainly not over."

Coach Doba had one more thing to say to the Cougar Nation. "Don't give up on the Cougs. We'll be back."

Injury Update
Adam West tweaked his ankle but it's not expected to keep him out against Stanford. There were no other significant injuries from the Oregon game.

But the shin of Troy Bienemann remains a concern. Bienemann's injury hasn't responded to treatment as hoped. He will have another precautionary X-Ray on Monday to again rule out any crack of the fibula. As of right now, Bienemann is considered doubtful for Stanford.

Marty Martin is very doubtful for this week, as he heals from a shoulder separation.

Ropati Pitoitua is questionable. "We have a chance to get Ropati back," said Doba. "That would be big." Pitoitua will try to run on Tuesday and will be evaluated throughout the week. Last week, Pitoitua ran on Thursday and then was unable to run Sunday. Stay tuned.

Cody Boyd is out with a shoulder separation.

Special teams standout Brian Winter is out, but will try to get in limited running this week. Doba hopes to have him back the following week against Oregon State. He will be X-rayed again this week to see how the break is healing.

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