Searching for answers, not wholesale changes

IN LIGHT OF two straight disappointing losses, there will be some changes made this week but wholesale changes are not in the offing. Coach Bill Doba said the Cougars will look at changing a few things, such as the practice schedule. But don't expect a personnel change at quarterback.

Calls for a change at quarterback often occur after losses and in the Cougars case, some fans are beginning to ask about junior Josh Swogger, who lost his starting job to Alex Brink in August. But Brink remains entrenched as the starter, Doba said.

"No, I don't think it warrants it just yet...I don't think the quarterback is the problem," said Doba, clearly tired of questions on if a change would be made at quarterback.

Doba said not having two-thirds of the starting receiving corps clearly affected the Cougars ability to mount an effective passing game against Stanford. Brink threw for 161 yards as Jason Hill was unable to suit up and Chris Jordan (groin pull) went out early. But more pressing to Doba was the state of the defense.

"I don't think it's so much the offense, I think it's the defense" said Doba. "We've got to get that thing shored up."

DOBA SAID WHOLESALE CHANGES aren't in the offing, but smaller ones will be looked at this week.

"I thought our defense, especially in the fourth quarter, was flat," said Doba. "They just looked slow, heavy legged."

Doba cited third down conversions on both sides of the ball as one of the most pressing needs for improvement. So we want to take a good look in how we're practicing and if we're working too much and make sure we get to ball games fresh. And credit to them, I thought Stanford did a good job."

WASHINGTON STATE HAD four three and outs on offense and allowed Stanford third down conversions nine of 16 times.

"We've got to keep our defense off the field more than that," said Doba. "I think (in the first half) on the time of possession there was almost 12 minutes difference."

Doba said Mkristo Bruce, Jerome Harrison, Steve Dildine and Greg Trent were some of the players that stood out Saturday, and will be counting on them and others to help "circle the wagons" as UCLA comes to Pullman.

"I think our fans are frustrated," said Doba. "I know our coaches are frustrated. Our kids are, too."

The injury news from the Stanford game was light, with Harrison (toe), Jordan and Michael Bumpus (knee) expected to be ready for UCLA with Jordan the biggest question mark. Defensive tackle Pitoitua "might get a play or two", Doba said.

Last season, the Cougs were heavy underdogs to UCLA and will be again this year when the Bruins come to Pullman. The Cougs upset the Bruins 31-29 as Harrison rushed for 247 yards, third most in program history.

"I told the kids, the only ones who think we can win will be in this room," said Doba.


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