Rosenbach talks about the quarterbacks

TIMM ROSENBACH DOESN'T hesitate when asked what is right in the world of Cougar quarterbacks. Foremost, he says, is the fact four talented athletes populate the depth chart. Second, there is great camaraderie among them. And third, Alex Brink, Gary Rogers, Arkelon Hall and Cole Morgan did exactly what he asked during the just-concluded spring season: improve.

When talk turns to the No. 1 guy, Rosenbach quips that he's glad the Web wasn't buzzing 20 years ago when he was a sophomore under center.

"If the internet had been around then, who knows what would have happened," jokes the Washington State quarterbacks coach, who turned in such a frightful 1987 season -- 24 interceptions vs. 10 TD passes -- that he asked head coach Dennis Erickson if he could move to defense.

"Dennis didn't give me a way out. He told me, ‘you're the guy we're going to win with – you're just going to get better," Rosenbach remembers.

And get better he did. As a junior the following season, 1988, he led the Cougars to nine wins, including two wild ones at the end, over Washington in the Apple Cup, and Houston in the Aloha Bowl.

Ironically, he produced the exact numbers, 24 and 10, as the year prior -- but this time it was TD passes that ruled the day. Rosenbach subsequently became the No. 1 pick in the NFL supplemental draft.

The Cougs would be well served should Brink make more plays with his legs this year, says Rosenbach.

While Brink's sophomore performance, save some notable miscues, was light years better than Rosenbach's, the losses piled up just the same.

So in the midst of a statistically impressive 2005 -- 2,981 air yards, 24 TD passes (vs. 13 INTs) and a 57 percent completion rate -- Brink's detractors howled early and often. Every stalled drive, incompletion and interception became message board fodder for those who thought Josh Swogger should be the starter. Every nail-biting loss was dropped at Brink's feet -- despite the glaring fact the Cougar defense was one of the two worst in the Pac-10.

"Everybody's entitled to an opinion, but it's not just about numbers," Rosenbach says of sticking with Brink. "We could see strides, in so many ways, where the kid was making progress during the year."

Brink took -- and takes -- it all in stride, Rosenbach says. "Alex is able to separate the negative stuff and keep his wits about him. I sometimes remind him (to ignore the nay-sayers). He already knows, but I do it anyway.

"We all chose to play this position. It's the nature of the game – people tend to give you too much credit when thing go right and too much blame when things go wrong. Nobody likes it, but we'd rather be playing this position than not," Rosenbach says.

WITH SPRING BALL IN THE books and the countdown to the Sept. 2 opener at Auburn officially underway, Rosenbach offers a frank assessment of all his quarterbacks.


Junior Alex Brink (6-2, 212), Eugene

"Alex is intelligent, competitive and experienced," Rosenbach says. "He just needs to build off the things he accomplished last year. Overall, he played well (in 2005), especially for a sophomore. He needs to protect the ball and eliminate the mistakes in the critical zones. He also needs to take off and run more – make plays with his legs."


Sophomore Gary Rogers (6-6, 228), Mukilteo, Wash

"Gary has outstanding arm strength and good mobility for a guy his size," says Rosenbach. "He's improved immensely. He's ready to play, but needs to get more consistent – we're trying to get him where Alex is day after day. Athletically and physically he's got everything you want."

Second-year freshman Arkelon Hall (6-2, 215), Fresno and
Second year freshman Cole Morgan (6-3, 200), Seattle



"They're hard to separate, so I'll talk about them together," Rosenbach says. "They'll go into fall competing to be the third guy. Rob Oviatt (WSU's strength and conditioning coach) has done a great job with them – Arkelon has dropped some extra weight and built muscle and Cole has put on 15 to 20 pounds and improved his arm strength.

"Both have improved a lot," he says, noting development with ball handling, decision making and drop backs. "They're still in the mode where they're thinking," he notes. "We need to get them to the point where the mental aspects become second nature."

One of Hall's best attributes is his mobility," he says. Morgan's is his ability to read coverages.

"My biggest concern is figuring out how to get them on the field. It's tough to get good, quality reps (for everyone)," Rosenbach says. He dubs the competition between the two "neck-and-neck" and says whoever wins the third slot may actually wish they were fourth because No. 3 tends to be a limbo land between consistent scout team work and scattered snaps with the first and second units.

ROSENBACH SAYS ONE OF THE most telling traits of all four quarterbacks is their support for each other. "I've been some places where the tension is so high you don't want to go to the quarterback meetings. These guys are great people who enjoy what they do and want to learn and get better," he says. "They compete hard, but aren't threatened by each other – they can tell a guy he did a nice job."

Nice job is also a phrase Rosenbach is putting on his quarterbacks' work this spring. "Anytime you can look at your players and honestly say everyone in the system improved, you're going to be in great shape. I am saying that."
SPECIAL NOTE: Mark your calendars for this Wednesday, April 19, at 12 p.m. PT when Robb Akey, defensive coordinator for the Cougs, will be answering questions in the CF.C chat room during a lunchtime chat session. The chat with Jeff McQuarrie, producer and director of an upcoming new 4-hour documentary about the colorful history of Cougar football has been rescheduled for the following Wednesday.

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