Hill: Execution is the issue, nothing else

JASON HILL said Monday that the lockerroom and field atmosphere is nothing like the cyberworld, where Cougar fans are grumbling about the lack of offense the past two weeks. The cybershots -- aimed at play calling, the quarterback and the running game -- reign supreme. Hill, though, praised the coaching staff and Alex Brink and said the bottom line is all about execution.

As Washington State gears up for what would be its first marquee win of the season against No. 15 Oregon, Hill dismissed any talk of a change needed at quarterback -- a debate that has raged among some fans since Gary Rogers led the Cougs on a touchdown drive in the season opener at Auburn.

"Brink is definitely our guy," said Hill. "Alex is a smart football player. He's goes through his progressions pretty good and he's learned a lot over the last couple years, and especially in the last couple games.

"He's doing a great job for us. I think as receivers, we have to make a couple more plays for him."

Rogers separated his non-throwing shoulder against Cal, his status for this week is unknown. Coach Bill Doba, perhaps recalling the 2003 season when a gritty Matt Kegel played with a similar injury, said that a tough QB can play with a non-throwing shoulder sprain. Regardless, Hill said, Brink is the guy to lead the Cougs.

"Brink, when he comes to the huddle, he can manage your attention a little better than Gary does, but I (also) think that's just because Gary is a young guy," said Hill.

Hill, who said he was surprised Rogers started the second half against Cal, also said that assigning blame to the offensive coaching staff after a combined 16 points the past two weeks, is off base. It's the execution that is the problem, according to the senior receiver.

"We got a lot of the things we wanted to get -- Our coaches prepared us well. Everything we'd seen out there are the things we had looked at on film and our coaches had talked about. We just couldn't put it together," he said.

Defensive end and team captain Mkristo Bruce said following the game the defense also won't be pointing any fingers at the Cougar offense, noting that the D could have done a better job themselves and noting they gave up 21 first half points, although one of those scores came when Cal started on the WSU 5-yard line after a blocked punt.

"They're doing a great job," Bruce stated plainly. "Both sides of the ball, we're just making mental mistakes that we can't make against these ranked teams and Pac-10 teams."

Doba was as forceful in answering media questions as he has been all season after the game.

"I'm not going to run our team down," said Doba sternly in response to a question. "Those kids are tight. They're a family and they're staying tight. And in that locker room they were great after the ball game. They're going to get ready, they're coming back and I guarantee you we'll play our butts off against Oregon."

  • Quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach said Saturday night the decision to go with Rogers was about trying to light a spark under the offense rather than poor play from Brink. At halftime, Brink was 13 of 20 for 163 yards and one interception, but the Cougs had only put three points on the scoreboard. Immediately following the game, Brink said, "No comment," and "I don't really want to talk about that," when asked about the change.

  • Hill said his shoulder is worse today than it was last Monday, after injuring it against OSU. The shoulder sprain didn't allow him to play his normal game, he said. "Especially with the way coach Levenseller teaches us, your arms are everything," said Hill. "I didn't really have anything in my right arm." Hill will almost certainly be wearing a yellow jersey this week, but said to count on seeing him Saturday against the Ducks. "Same as this past week, I'm going to be out there whether it's hurting or not. My teammates need me out there and I want to be out there."

  • At 4-3, the Cougs are about where most objective estimates put them at the beginning of the season, losing to three top 10 teams in Auburn, USC and Cal, while besting Idaho, Baylor, Stanford and Oregon State. A win against Oregon would set the proverbial ship sailing, but even a loss isn't the end of the world. With just two games needed for bowl eligibility and the toughest part of the schedule in the rear view mirror after this Saturday, there's a reasonable chance the Cougs could run the table.

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