One game at a time

THE COUGS have one thing and one thing only to train their focus on: Getting back on track at Oregon State. With two straight losses, the string of 10-win seasons is now officially over. But head coach Bill Doba says this team remains fully committed to putting together a successful year. Plus, the complete injury report, what Doba told the team on Sunday and more.

Forget the post-season (at least for now). The most important thing is this week's game against Oregon State. That was the message coach Bill Doba delivered to the team Sunday following the Stanford loss.

"Men, we've gotta play one game at a time," Doba told the players. "The thing that matters now is to try and beat Oregon State."

On videotape, the staff continues to see the little things keeping the Cougs from being a factor and reaching their potential. The Cougs could easily be 6-0 right now. Then again, an argument can be made that they could be 1-5 too. Doba said assignment errors, missed blocks and all the other mistakes are partly the price of being young, but that it's also the result of a lack of focus. At times, they're also trying too hard.

"We're just inches away doing things right," said Doba. "Just little mistakes. A corner peeking (and taking a step) into the backfield, a linebacker not carrying the drag. The little things, the inconsistency is what's killing us. At times we've looked great, at other times we've looked inept, like we haven't practiced at all."

Before Stanford, the Cougs still controlled their destiny, and their stated goal was the conference championship. Now, with two league losses, any realistic chance at the Pac-10 crown is probably gone. And Doba said the players now realize it's a matter of crafting the most successful season they can put together. A win over the Beavers is critical to that end.

"The kids realize that, too. We've got one game. And that's Oregon State...We want to do as much as we can for these seniors who have busted their butts around here for four and five years. They know this is their last go-round, but the rest of the team has to help them and make this a successful year for them."

THE OFFENSIVE LINE is certainly playing better than they were at the beginning of the year, as evidenced by the running game's emergence and the lack of sacks given up of late. Still, although opponents aren't sacking Josh Swogger much at all, he's still getting hit quite a bit.

The 6-5, 247-pound sophomore suffered a strained rotator cuff and an apparent slight concussion to add to his list of injuries. Swogger entered the game with a torn knee ligament and a sprained ankle, with the ankle having been more a problem than the knee.

The rotator cuff strain is on his non-throwing shoulder. And Swogger checked out okay post-game but Sunday it appeared he may have had a very slight concussion during Saturday's game -- the medical staff will re-evaluate him on Monday. The two successive time-outs may have been due to the concussion, rather than just a mistake as the staff thought at the time.

With all that, Swogger is still probable -- expect to see him under center against Oregon State. "He's just going to play through all this stuff," said Doba. "He's a tough kid."

Karl Paymah sprained an ankle, and missed a good chunk of the game but the injury is not as bad as originally thought - he is probable for this week's game.

Chris Bruhn (knee) was the most serious injury from Saturday's game. Bruhn underwent an MRI today, results should be known by Tuesday. The senior running back was noticeably limping today at practice but it's too early to say one way or the other if he'll be able to go against Oregon State. Early indications indicate a possible torn meniscus or cartilage.

Greg Prator has a hip flexor but is probable for Saturday's tilt against the Beavers.

Allen Thompson returned to action later in the fourth quarter after it appeared he may have injured a shoulder, and looks to be good to go for Saturday.

Players who came in dinged or were returning to action all came through the game okay; Jerome Harrison (ankle), Ropati Pitoitua (high ankle sprain), Marty Martin (shoulder), Jeremy Bohannon (back), all came through the game fine and will play against Oregon State.

There are no planned starting lineup changes for Oregon State. Asked if there was any thought of handing Alex Brink the reins given Swogger's injuries and play, even for just a change of pace, Doba's answer was both immediate and unequivocal.


The Cougs Pac-10 Player of the week nominees:
Offense - Calvin Armstrong, graded out at 90 percent by the staff
Defense - Hamza Abdullah, two tackles, two assists, one pass break-up, one interception
Special teams - Michael Bumpus, five returns for 77 yards with a long of 48-yards

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