To go bowling, Brink's focus on the present

PULLMAN—Among the axioms of college 'ball -- the defense is always ahead of the offense in springtime. That didn't hold true out on the Palouse last year, foreshadowing difficulties that were to come. This year, however, Alex Brink and the offense needed a strong final half to catch up with the D. And the WSU QB says the spring's positives, on both sides of the ball, have carried into the summer.

For the 6-2, 212-pound starting QB, it feels much different than a year ago.

"Our defense handled us pretty well the first two weeks and then we kind of caught up to them -- I think we both played pretty well late in the spring," said Brink. "For the team, I think we improved a lot this spring. I know offensively we started off a little slow, but then we really got going...I think that bodes well for the fall."

During the seven game slide in '05, with five of those losses coming by four points or less, the critics came out. And the quarterback position is the most visible on the team.

Pressure, in all it's many forms, is just part of the deal, said Brink. To be a successful quarterback, mental toughness isn't optional.

"I think for me personally, it's a part of what I do here -- it's part of my job as a quarterback," said Brink. "In general, football is a game, and we're out there to have fun. There are expectations and there's a lot riding on it as far as players and coaches riding on our success.

"But you just have to go out and enjoy your time here. It's been three and a half years, but it seems like it was just yesterday that I showed up on campus."

AS TOUGH a year as the Cougs went through in '05, (did we mention five games were lost by four points or less?) it would have been a substantially more difficult offseason without the Apple Cup victory. On the 80-yard game winning drive, Brink was 4-for-4 for 68 yards and 2-for-2 on third down conversions.

As Brink, Mkristo Bruce and other members of the team attest, the victory over Washington and screen pass to Trandon Harvey did more than give WSU their second straight Apple Cup win. It set the proper tone for the Cougar program heading into the offseason.

"For sure - that play to Trandon," said Brink. "There's no doubt about that. It was kind of the perfect ending to a rough season. We talked about when it happened, building off of it. And I think we have. I think using that momentum in this offseason has really helped us and geared us up for this fall."

BRINK'S EXPECTATIONS for this season start with a bowl game. But to get there, the focus has to be on the here and now -- that means voluntary summer workouts and preparing for the season opener against Auburn.

"This offseason we've been working real hard as a team, really bonding together and I think that first game down at Auburn is going to be a real sign of what's going to happen this season," said Brink.

"At this point, it's hard to speculate what's going to happen throughout the whole season. We're really just focused on getting through this summer and getting into fall camp."

A Pac-10 All-Academic first team member, Brink concluded his first full season as the Cougars' starting QB with 2,891 passing yards and 24 touchdowns.

His passing yardage set the all-time sophomore record, passing Ryan Leaf's 1996 mark while his 24 touchdowns tied for the fourth-best, single-season effort in school history.

Earlier this summer, the Sporting News named Brink second-team preseason all-league. His teammates elected the junior as one of four captains for the 2006 season.

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