What if? Rogers' work has the faithful asking

I'M ROLLING VIDEO AGAIN AND I still can't figure out why Alex Brink can't see Cody Boyd. Overlooking Cody Boyd is like driving White Pass and not seeing Mount Rainier. It just shouldn't happen. But it did Saturday at Auburn, where the Cougars spent a broiler-plate of an evening wasting away again in Tommy Tuberville.

That quip makes sense only if you know that Tommy Tuberville is Auburn's coach and you can hum that enduring Jimmy Buffet classic, Margaritaville.

It's about realizing that everything is your own damn fault.


Well, that was last year's theme, when week after futile week the Cougars beat up on themselves. Finding fault this week, in a new season, in the wake of a tough loss to the No. 4 team in the country, is pretty heartless. But then again, that's what fans do. So what say we look back at Saturday and play What-if-Wazzu one more time.

What if Wazzu's tackle-busting running back DeMaundray Woolridge hadn't come up lame at the tail end of what we can only hope is the last option play the Cougars will ever run?

What if the coaching staff had indulged themselves in idle curiosity and granted backup quarterback Gary Rogers one more trip to the huddle? From the shores of Lake Washington to rustic hunting cabins in the shadow of the Blue Mountains, Cougars statewide are what-iffing that seeming turning point.

My weekend conversations started almost without fail with a question.

Did you see that Rogers kid?

Sure did. And I have to ask: What if Bill Doba had answered the urge to improvise and simply recognized that suddenly in Rogers he had a quarterback who was seeing the whole field?

All Rogers did in his third-quarter cameo action shot was drive the Cougs 90 yards in 98 seconds, spreading the defense, finding four different receivers and, oh yeah, noticing that his tight end, the massive Boyd, was open over the middle. The 6-foot-8 Boyd walked away from the line of scrimmage long enough to haul in a Rogers pass that covered 50 yards and a touchdown.

Rogers hit on all five of his allotted throws and then it was back to our regularly scheduled three-and-out. Back came the consistently unspectacular Alex Brink, but in fairness, let's get to the temporizer right now: He was sacked harder than a Moses Lake potato.

OK, but subbing Brink in for Rogers at that point, with the Cougs down only 12, deep in the third quarter, was like sending Manny Ramirez in for defensive purposes.

Gee, Audie, thanks for storming that pillbox and taking out all those tanks. By the way, you're on KP the next three weeks.

Nice going, Gates, you've worked hard on this software stuff but nobody's gonna buy programs for a personal computer with a mouse hooked up to it.

What do you say to a kid who just gave you six points and an emotional jolt as you're handing him the dreaded headset?

Sorry son. Stand here for a while. Cool off in front of big misty and see how it's done. That's right. We're running the option. That ought to throw ‘em a big league curve. Third and five. Here we go . . . Hellfire! A fumble!! Punt team, punt team!!

Hey look, Jason Hill just got separation deep. Damn! Short. Under thrown. Punt team, punt team! Don't throw it behind him, dammit.

We all know Brink deserved the start. He won it in practice. The plan stipulated that Rogers would get a whiff of playing time. A whiff of playing time led to a shot of success. With that, Rogers earned the right to finish, or at least get in again before the snaps turned meaningless.

What if Wazzu had sent Rogers back out there for the very next series, only to find that Auburn had adjusted? What if Rogers found himself flat on his face, as Brink did, botched assignment compounded by botched assignment?

Well, Alex Brink would still be The Guy. Right now he's The Coaches' Guy, and little more.

My guess is the Martin Stadium faithful will cut him some supportive slack Saturday, as long as reasonable progress is made in running and passing Idaho back to the Kibbie Dome. If not, the clamor for Rogers will grow from a whisper to a roar.

It's an emotional week either way. It's Dennis Erickson's homecoming. It's Erickson, the popular here-today-gone-tomorrow former Cougar coach, butting up against Doba, the class-act fixture with the last 20 years of his life tied up in WSU football.

And it's Alex Brink, wondering how many free passes he's got left.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Weaver has been following and/or covering the Cougars for the better part of 30 years. For the second straight season, the former Spokesman-Review sports editor and columnist will be bringing his unique insights to Cougfan.com readers every week.

Cougfan Top Stories