Cougs on the Brink at QB, says Doba

PULLMAN -- Bill Doba said over the winter that it's not fair to lose a starting position due to injury, and so proclaimed that the quarterback job at Washington State would be Josh Swogger's to lose. After three weeks of training camp and a neck-and-neck battle with fleet-footed Alex Brink, strong-armed Swogger did lose it. Or perhaps better put, Brink won it. However you view the tight race, Doba made it official this evening that Brink will be the Cougars' starter.

Doba said Tuesday evening Alex Brink, a third-year sophomore, has won the starting job for Washington State, with Josh Swogger, a fourth-year junior, backing him up.

"We're going to go with Alex Brink," said Doba. "He earned the job during the preseason by making fewer mistakes. He moved the ball club exceptionally well during the preseason."

Doba said the decision was made at 11 this morning, with Brink and Swogger then told at 2 pm.

In three formal scrimmages this training camp, Brink completed 27 of 53 passes for 294 yards, two TDs and two INTs. Swogger completed 24 of 45 for 328 yards, one TD and one INT.

"It was a tough decision," said Doba. "I like both these guys."

Doba said with no practices this past Sunday and Monday, the staff had the opportunity to look at video and come to the decision. Doba said the decision was made collectively, and cited quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach as providing the most insight since he works with the pair every day, along with offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller.

"Alex has been consistent throughout the spring and fall," Rosenbach said.

Brink's command of the offense, consistency and his ability to deliver the football were key considerations according to Doba.

"He's more aware of the offense," said Doba of the redshirt sophomore who was record-setting prep passer in Eugene. "He's throwing the ball on time and has improved his arm strength."

Brink started five games a year ago after Swogger went down with a broken foot and completed 97 of 194 passes for 1,305 yards, seven TDs and five interceptions.

Doba did not address whether he would put Swogger in for a series each game as the Cougs did a few years back with Matt Kegel spelling Jason Gesser. Doba did say that it would be beneficial for Brink and the Cougs to have a guy like Swogger backing him up.

He added both players seemed to be relieved more than anything else that a decision had been made and that Swogger was taking the decision well, realizing the backup quarterback is always just one play away from being under center.

"I knew it would be a battle, everyone knew it would be a battle," said Brink. "I've always been the underdog and that has drawn me to work harder."

Brink said the spring sessions, which Swogger missed as he rehabbed a broken foot, helped tremendously.

The coaches did not make an announcement to the team as a whole during practice, with Doba saying the Cougs don't announce a change in starting positions anywhere else on the club.

One of the reasons the decision proved difficult was Brink showed signs of wresting the job from Swogger this fall camp but each time appeared to take a step back, while Swogger in turn would take a half step forward.

Ultimately, though, Brink won the job and Doba wanted to a clear cut starter in place, in order for the first unit to get in sync, with the season opener against Idaho coming up on September 1.

We'll have more from Pullman, including the practice report, later tonight.

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