Doba seeks redemption in Corvallis

A YEAR AGO Bill Doba experienced something new as a college head coach -- his team was "humiliated." The villain in this drama was Mike Riley and his Oregon State Beavers. Not even a thrashing at the hands of USC a year before, when Doba won 10 games in his rookie campaign, had WSU been so dominated in his eyes. As he readies the Cougs for another trip into the Willamette Valley, Doba's confident WSU will fare much better -- but he isn't quite sure what to expect from his troops or Riley's.

Doba said Tuesday the Cougs were "humiliated" and "embarrassed" last season at Oregon State in a 38-19 defeat --- a defeat, he says, that wasn't as close as the score.

Aside from the outcome, the game was notable for another reason: It marked the first college start of a young quarterback from down the road in Eugene by the name of Alex Brink.

"This year he's a lot more confident," Doba said of Brink. "He knows the offense well. He's worked really hard this summer to improve his physical ability, he's throwing the ball well and I think he's improved his arm strength."

"It was the first time as a head coach that we were completely out of the ball game," said Doba. "We got embarrassed down there."

Doba went on to say the Cougs have more confidence in their protections, and have given Brink more freedom in his checks. Last year in Corvallis, WSU tried to sprint Brink out quite a bit which failed to pay dividends. Despite coming off back to back blowout losses, Doba said the Beaver defense is better than advertised.

"Their defense is good, they've given up a lot of points but it's been on 20-yard fields, 30-yard fields," said Doba. "Their offense has put their defense in big trouble."

But Doba is as concerned about the WSU defense vs. the OSU offense as much as anything. And he doesn't know how good either team is yet.

"How good is Louisville, how good is Oregon State, how good are we?," Doba asked rhetorically. "I don't know. I really don't. I thought Idaho was a pretty good team when we played them but they're short 13 starters now because of injury."

THE COUGS will likely double all-everything receiver Mike Hass at times Saturday. The senior who walked on at Oregon State after not being offered a scholarship by anyone has again been close to unstoppable this year.

"He's covered like a wet blanket and he still makes catches," said Doba.

However, Doba said WSU must guard against letting the other OSU playmakers beat them as a result, calling attention to the big play potential of receivers Anthony Wheat-Brown and Josh Hawkins, mobile quarterback Matt Moore and running back Yvenson Bernard.

ON THE INJURY FRONT, Scott Davis (foot sprain) will participate in five-to-six of the 18 practice periods Tuesday, and the same should hold true for Omowale Dada (knee sprain). Dada tweaked the knee during Saturday's practice but has shown marked improvement. Both are expected to start Saturday.

Reserve fullback Jacob McKinney will run Tuesday and test his injured knee. The Puyallup native ran last week but experienced swelling the day after. Jed Collins has traded in the monster of a cast used to protect his broken thumb for a smaller splint.

Jerome Harrison has "a little ding on his shoulder" and may be held out of some contact drills this week but will be ready to start Saturday. Harrison is also getting over a 24 hour flu bug, which has hit four or five Cougs the past week or so.

DOBA SINGLED OUT defensive tackle Bryan Olson once again, saying he's "done a heck of job for us." Olson has been splitting time with Fevaea'i Ahmu opposite starter Aaron Johnson, whom Doba also said have been playing well, while starter Ropati Pitoitua continue to recover from a broken leg. The duo has combined for three sacks over the last two games, with Olson getting a pair against Grambling State.

Pitoitua has a very good chance to return a week ahead of schedule and get at least a few series against Stanford.

DOBA SAID true freshman center Kenny Alfred has been looking like a world beater on the scout team and reiterated his strong desire to redshirt the apparent heir to center Nick Mihlhauser.

"Boy he's practiced really well the last few days," said Doba. "I hope we stay healthy enough to redshirt that kid because he could be a starter for a few years."

Besides Alfred, running back Dwight Tardy has also stood out of late. But Doba said it's difficult to fully evaluate the younger players -- if they fly around they get admonished for a potentially injurious hit on a veteran and if they don't go full out they can get upbraided for taking it too easy.

SOME HAVE HYPOTHESIZED Washington State will remain an unknown quantity until they take on UCLA October 15, but Doba said the verdict could be in earlier than that.

"I guess we'll know a whole lot more in a couple weeks after we get through playing Oregon State and Stanford," he said.

  • The linebacker units should provide great theater on Saturday. While Washington State has the Killer D's in Will Derting, Steve Dildine and Davis, Oregon State bills itself as Linebacker U and has a formidable trio of starters in their own right -- with Trent Bray in the middle and Keith Ellison and Derrick Doggett on the outside. The Cougs also have a second unit of all true freshmen who have displayed loads of potential in the season's first three games -- MLB Greg Trent, SLB Cory Evans and WLB Jason Stripling.

  • Trent was the recipient of both the Iron Man and Cougar Claw weekly awards against Grambling.

  • The Cougs have started the same lineup in all three games save for one position -- Husain Abdullah started last week against Grambling State. DeWayne Patterson had been filling in as Abdullah came off a high ankle sprain and is expected to continue to see significant playing time.

  • Heading into the conference schedule, Jerome Harrison leads the Pac-10 in rushing with 133.0 yards a game, ranked 4th in the nation. Braidwood leads the league in fumbles forced with .67 per game. Loren Langley leads the Pac-10 with a perfect 1.000 field goal percentage.

  • WSU leads the league in rushing defense allowing 74 yards a game, and ranks sixth in the nation. WSU also leads the league in total defense with 285.33 yards allowed per game and sits at No. 20 in the nation.

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