Injuries may shake up Cougar lineup for Idaho

THE NUMBER OF COUGS listed as doubtful by coach Bill Doba on Tuesday afternoon for the home opener against Idaho numbered four -- with two of them starters -- and the secondary the position hardest hit by the injury bug. Doba and quarterback Alex Brink talk about Saturday's doings behind center, plus a whole lot more in this wide-ranging roundup.

The biggest injury concern is sophomore running back DeMaundray Woolridge, who looked impressive against Auburn with 86 first-half yards on nine carries before leaving the game with a thigh bruise. Doba said Dwight Tardy and Derrell Hutsona will see their turns increase if Woolridge isn't ready to go on Saturday. Doba said both backs are also adept at catching the ball out of the backfield.

Cornerbacks Don Turner (hip bruise) and Markus Dawes (ankle) are also doubtful, as is safety Michael Willis (subluxed shoulder). Cornerback Courtney Williams (broken thumb) looks to be questionable. Defensive tackle Aaron Johnson (hip bruise) and Tony Thompson (concussion) are both probable, said Doba.

With Turner a starter, Dawes the first CB option off the bench and Williams probably limited, junior college transfers and others are likely to have their mettle tested early this season.

"I would imagine, in talking with coach Greene, it would probably be Brian Williams," said Doba, when asked who would step in for Turner. The practice week could also go a long ways to determining playing time against Idaho.

Doba said he would expect a worse case scenario for both starters, Woolridge and Turner, to be back in time for Baylor. But he was also optimistic they might heal up in time to return this week.

WSU STARTING QUARTERBACK Alex Brink said Tuesday while the offense did some things well on the ground and through the air, Auburn was one of his poorest overall games, be it in college or high school.

"After looking at the film...obviously, I didn't play very well," said Brink. "And that's hard to say because I haven't really had a poor game (throughout) -- there have been times when I've played poorly, but I really did have a poor game...but I'm going to learn from that.

"Looking at the film I know what I need to do and I know I need to play better. I got sacked once and I came back with a really easy swing pass that I probably hit 99 out of 100 times and I throw it in the dirt."

Also after breaking down game tape, Doba did not agree with his quarterback's assessment, citing early sacks given up by the defensive line and different coverages and Tiger assignment errors on Cody Boyd 's 50 yard touchdown catch as some of the mitigating factors.

Brink agreed with Jason Hill that the frustration the Cougar receivers showed on the field Saturday sometimes happens in the heat of a game but is one without a lasting impact.

"At times I think we were all getting frustrated...I missed Chris a couple times and he got upset but the part you don't see is he comes back in the huddle and said 'Hey, we're good.' He's a competitor, they're all competitors and so am I.

"If a pass is dropped I'm sure I'd probably get upset too but at the same time, I'd go to the grave for those guys. They'd do anything for me and it's the same way (for me)...I think reading too much into that is a mistake."

Doba said the Cougs will continue to look to get Rogers playing time in the second or third quarter. But he also reiterated there is no question who's No. 1 on the depth chart.

"Alex is our quarterback," said Doba.

"I feel like I'm the starting quarterback and I earned that right," said Brink. "At the same time, Gary came in and played really well which I was really happy to see because there's no doubt throughout this season we're going to need both of us to win ball games."

DOBA MENTIONED A number of players who caught his eye after watching the tape.

"Scotty Davis I thought played really well, Ropati just played his heart out," said Doba. "Brackenridge played hard. Sean O'Connor played a good ball game, and Cody Boyd not only did he have a touchdown catch he had five knockdowns as a blocker. Chris Jordan made some good catches."

Both Doba and Brink said they expect Idaho to do some of the things Auburn found success with but also noted the Vandals have their own personality.

"I would expect them to run the screen anyway, but we didn't defend the screen very well," said Doba.

  • Doba said assignment errors and not checking into the proper coverage were at fault for five big plays surrendered against Auburn. "They're all things that are correctable," said Doba.

  • The 3-4 defense the Cougs used, with Cory Evans the fourth 'backer, had a rough start in allowing a big run to open the third quarter but overall, Doba seemed pleased with the scheme. "All we're trying to do is get our best 11 on the field," said Doba.

  • Doba said he expects to continue to insert Kenny Alfred in for Dan Rowlands who is starting in place of injured right guard Andy Roof (thumb). "I thought Kenny played well. We want to get some experience for him as after Josh Duin graduates, Kenny is the center of the future. And Josh is doing a good job, he's really holding up," said Doba.

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