Brink carries valuable lesson around campus

PRACTICE HAD ENDED, the running was over and all the evening's film work was completed. Alex Brink was at home Sunday night when the phone rang. On the other end of the line was coach Timm Rosenbach with unexpected news.

Josh Swogger had a broken foot, his season was over. Brink just became the starter for the rest of the year. Brink's first reaction was one of shock.

Soon after, that feeling gave way to excitement at the prospects that lay ahead.

"Coach (Timm) Rosenbach called me after we were done watching film," said Alex Brink of the Sunday evening phone call that elevated him into the starting role after X-Rays revealed Josh Swogger had broken the navicular bone in his foot, requiring season ending surgery.

"(Coach Rosenbach) told me to give Josh a call and see how he was doing, which I did first," said Brink. "Then he asked me to get ready, get in on Monday and watch some film and get prepared...I was shocked. I knew he was a little dinged up from some injuries but I didn't realize it was anything as serious as a broken foot."

While Swogger was disappointed at the sudden end to his season, he let Brink know in that phone call he's rooting for the Oregon native, that he'll be there to support Brink and the team as he goes through the surgery and ensuing rehab.

"I was pretty shocked to begin with, but after that I started to get excited about the chance to play," said Brink.

THE QUARTERBACK from Sheldon High, the state offensive player of the year his senior season, now has that chance against the Beavers this Saturday down in Corvalis. It will be his first career collegiate start but his second trip to Reser Stadium, the first coming his junior season in high school for the state title game.

"They're a good football team," said Brink of Oregon State. "They have two very good corners and a real solid defense and they force a lot of turnovers. But I think we have some things in where we can take advantage of (some of the things they do) and we definitely have the athletes to do it, so we just need to go out and execute."

Brink has played in every game this season, mostly seeing time as the holder on field goals. But he also saw significant time at quarterback against Colorado and Idaho, displaying flashes of what so enamored the coaching staff this spring and fall. But he also had some costly turnovers and mistakes in both outings.

"I've definitely learned from my mistakes in the Colorado game and in the Idaho game. I have to protect the football better. I have to make quicker decisions and get up to speed on how fast things are going (out there on the field). I feel I've learned those things and I'm ready to improve and win some football games."

One way his quarterbacks' coach drove the lesson home: Coach Rosenbach had Brink carry a football around all week on campus after the Idaho game. Players were told to try and strip the ball away and bring it back to coach Rosey. At the end of the week, Brink still had the ball. "I didn't give it up," Brink laughed. "I was pretty conscious of keeping two hands on the football when going through a crowd."

Two fumbles, one each against Colorado and Idaho, occurred when Brink was trying to spin to avoid a would-be tackler and pick up more yards.

Because of that, and because the quarterback after Brink is true freshman Gary Rogers, the coaching staff wants to see the 6-2, 204-pound Brink make smart decisions in the open field -- be that getting down after a scramble, getting out of bounds, or throwing the football away.

Note: After Rogers, the Cougs quarterback situation goes from an untested true frosh in Rogers, to two experienced juniors. The problem; their day job is kicking the ball rather than throwing it. Both Kyle Basler and Graham Siderius, who each played some quarterback in high school, sat in on the quarterbacks meeting Tuesday. Each will get a handful of snaps this week should disaster strike and a third quarterback be needed. Michael Bumpus, who moved to quarterback his senior season in high school when the starter went down, is probably not an option. "Bumpus has enough to do learning the receiver spot," cracked coach Bill Doba on Tuesday.

THE STANDARD WAY teams attack a young quarterback is to blitz early and often -- until the QB proves he can beat the pressure. Judging by the comments of Oregon State coach Mike Reilly on Tuesday, that fact is not lost upon him. Take it for what it's worth. A coach's comments to reporters on what Oregon State must do when Alex Brink lines up under center for his first career start.

"We're going to have to do a great job in bringing pressure and a great job in coverage," said Reilly. Believing his team is rounding into form coming off a win over the Huskies in Seattle, Reilly said; "I think we're on the brink of something big."

If Brink has his way, the same might be said for the Cougs and their quarterback.

"All I guess I can say is 'You've got to believe'," said Brink. "I've had some playing time and I've made some mistakes, and I feel like I've done some good things too. I know I'm going to learn from my mistakes and I can only get better. My coaches and my teammates around me are going to prepare, and prepare me, to play these next five games and with the team we've got, I feel like we can win those games."

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