SIDELINED: Derting out up to four weeks

THROUGH THREE GAMES this season, the Cougs were about as healthy as they'd ever been to that point. In the Pac-10 opener, that all changed. Senior captain Will Derting was injured late and his return timetable isn't encouraging. The injury news is also in on star WR Jason Hill and starting CB Alex Teems.

Meanwhile, Bill Doba explains why WSU ran but four times in the final stanza, likely changes on special teams and the decision to squib kick.

Greg Trent, Brian Hall, Jason Stripling and Chirs Baltzer will compete for the starting middle linebacker position to replace Will Derting, who sprained an MCL and might not return until November. The Okanogan, Wash., native will be out at least 2-4 weeks, provided X-Rays don't indicate anything more serious. X-Ray results should be known sometime Monday or Tuesday.

There's better news on Jason Hill. The star Cougar receiver left the game with a quadriceps injury early in the second half and the offense was never the same. Hill might be able to return for Stanford, although he probably won't fully participate in practice drills this week.

"Until he gets his flexibility back where he can bend that knee....but I would say he's maybe probable," said Doba. "I think he might have a chance to come back and play this week."

Doba praised the work of Trandon Harvey, (4 receptions, 92 yards), saying Hill's injury also opened their eyes to how much they rely on their favorite target Hill. With Hill sidelined for at least some of the practice week, Doba said it will be a good thing that the Cougs will be forced to spread the ball around at practice and locate other viable options.

Alex Teems (shoulder AC joint) is being X-rayed to rule out any possible fracture. The senior corner is "very doubtful" for Stanford.

AMONG THE CANDIDATES to replace Derting in the middle is Trent. Doba said the true freshman out of Keller, Texas is still learning the defense and sometimes experiences "paralysis through analysis", as all freshman are prone to do, but brings some serious hitting ability to the table.

While Trent is considered the favorite to replace Derting, Doba said a middle linebacker by committee isn't out of the question and that Baltzer, Hall and Stripling will all get long looks this week in practice. Doba said one 'backer who has made significant strides the past couple weeks is Stripling.

Derting's injury was "ugly" on the videotape, said Doba, as the Cougar defensive line lost focus and didn't get set on a quarterback sneak. Doba said he admonished the group for being unprepared, subsequently getting knocked back as Derting's foot got stuck in the turf underneath a mass of big bodies.

Doba doesn't want to have to move Scott Davis or Steve Dildine inside unless forced to, saying the pair has been playing very well on the outside. Dildine had a game-high 13 tackles Saturday, plus a fumble recovery that set up a TD.

Don Turner looks to be the leading candidate to replace Teems if the senior is not able to go against Stanford.

DOBA DIDN'T HESITATE to explain why the Cougs ran but four times versus 28 pass attempts in the fourth quarter, saying it was the right thing to do.

"They were bringing their safeties down, and they had four to the side we wanted to run to," said Doba. "They had that outnumbered. It was obvious to throw the football."

THERE ARE CHANGES LOOMING for the Cougar special teams this week.

The gunners on the punt return team had a poor outing according to Doba, saying one change will probably be made. Doba did not indicate which gunner spot might see a change in personnel. After the opener against Idaho, Courtney Williams was moved to one of the gunner spots. The other gunner is Turner.

There could be more wholesale changes on the kickoff units. Doba said the young players he has spent so much time praising earlier got "blown up" against OSU. Expect some mixing and matching, coaching and positive reinforcement this week as the coaches tinker to find the the best combination.

Doba said the decision to squib kick was made to try and force some of the big linemen to pick up the ball and to keep it away from dangerous Beaver return men. The strategy fell flat as Oregon State had kick returns of 39, 28 and 24 yards. enjoying oustanding field position most of the game. When the wind was with the Cougs in the second half, the coaches told Siderius to kick away. The senior responded by booting the ball out of the end zone.

THE TEAMS'S MOOD was somber after the game and during sprints today, but they worked hard Sunday, said Doba.

"They're down in the mouth," said Doba. "They're looking for leadership from us, the coaches....We've got to be positive, tell them what they did wrong and make those corrections and try to get better."

NOTES:
If Ropati Pitoitua is able to participate in contact drills be Wednesday, he will return to field Saturday albeit in a limited role. Doba said if he isn't ready for contact by Wednesday, it "wouldn't be fair" to toss him into Pac-10 action and he'd wait another week to bring back the starting defensive tackle.

Doba said in hindsight the Cougar coaching staff should have gotten DeMaundray Woolridge into the game for a few carries. Jerome Harrison graded out the highest he ever has as a Coug, excelling at both running and blocking.

Approximately 1,500 tickets remain for Saturday's tilt against Stanford, and 1,800 for the October 15 homecoming game against UCLA. The Stanford game was not selected for television broadcast.


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