Gesser fails to use head

<b>UPDATED 9/22 WITH PHOTOS, STATS</b><br><br> PULLMAN -- <b>Adam Cordeiro</b> may have a last name than belongs in <i>The Godfather</i>, but the hit the Montana State defensive end put on Cougar QB <b>Jason Gesser</b> in the third quarter of WSU's 45-28 win Saturday was nothing ruthless. Gesser, subsequently dispatched to the hospital for X-rays, was the victim of his own, career-long insistence on playing dumb with this body.

Cornerback Marcus Trufant  runs for a 46-yard punt return in the first half. (AP Photo/Kevin German)

Wide receiver Devard Darling, left, celebrates his touchdown with offensive guard Norvell Holmes in the first half. (AP/Kevin German)

Defensive end Fred Shavies sacks Montana State quarterback Travis Lulay for a loss in the first half. (AP Photo/Kevin German)

Free safety Jeremy Bohannon tackles Montana State wide receiver Junior Adams in the endzone in the second half. (AP/Kevin German)

Darling high steps past Montana State corner back Kahiam Hunter in the second half. (AP/Kevin German)

Running back Jermaine Green runs towards the endzone setting up a touchdown for receiver Devard Darling. (AP/Kevin German)

Coach Mike Price reacts to a call next to third-string quarterback Chris Hurd who played in the second half after quarterback Jason Gesser injured his ribs. (AP/Kevin German)

Cordeiro just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Heck, the guy hails from a town in Montana you've never heard of and his hair is blond for goodness sake. He's more Merlin Olsen than Sonny Corleone.

And Gesser, of course, is Mr. Bravado with a well-known affinity for not sliding or running out of bounds. That's admirable and maddening. But the bodily harm he inflicted on himself with Cordeiro's assistance was just plain misguided, and it could cost the Cougars dearly down the road.

For right-handers, one of the Cardinal rules of quarterbacking is to take care of yourself when scrambling to your left on a pass play. Bottom line, if you're going to rear back and throw the ball when going against the grain like that, you better make damn sure no one's close enough to get you from the back or side. Because if they do, they're going to crack you hard in the shoulder or ribs, plus you're going down in a heap right on top of said body parts.

That's Signal Calling 101.


So the best thing to do in those situations is tuck the ball and run or throw the ball away.

Gesser, apparently high on the fact he'd thrown six straight completions up to that point, decided to make the throw. Just before he started to bring his passing arm forward, Cordeiro hit him. Out popped the ball and down went Gesser.

Preliminary indications are that he bruised his throwing shoulder and dislocated cartilage in a rib. What that means for next week's Pac-10 opener at Cal is uncertain, but the soreness factor alone would pretty much seem to ordain Matt Kegel as next week's starter.

While the No. 16 Cougars weren't especially sharp against the scrappy Division I-AA Bobcats, the outcome was never in doubt. So the injury spoiled what was otherwise a bright day -- both in terms of the gorgeous weather and the fact so many guys on the depth chart got a chance to play.

"He (Gesser) was either trying too hard or not thinking," said color commentator and former Cougar head coach Jim Walden after the game. "When running left, you expose the body and open yourself up for lots of problems." Broken ribs and separated shoulders are the usual.

If memory serves, the Cougars were destined for a bowl game in 1993 until a similar play against Cal broke Mike Pattinson's collarbone.

Mike Price, the head man then and now, cut straight to the point: "This could be an expensive win."

Adding insult to injury, the Cougars were leading 31-7 at the time and that particular series figured to be Gesser's last one of the day any way.

Kegel replaced him and proceeded to connect on four of five passes, leading the Cougars on a 10-play, 61-yard drive that was capped with Jermaine Green's 2-yard TD run --- the second of three touchdowns the big JC transfer would score in a breakout day that saw him rush for 123 yards and catch three passes for 29 hashes

Kegel, by the way, was playing with a heavily braced knee that he twisted in the first half. He and Green would wrap up the Cougars' scoring for the day on a seven-yard aerial with 31 seconds left in the third quarter. Kegel finished up completing nine of 12 passes for 81 yards and the one TD.

From then on it was empty-the-bench time, in which the youngster who looks --- depending on Gessert's fate --- to be the Cougars' new backup QB: Chris Hurd. The second-year freshman from Northern California looked poised as all get out, completing five of six passes for 44 yards.

Aside from Gesser's injury and Green's big day, the crimson tale was really told by All-America-caliber cornerback Marcus Trufant. He set up both of Green's rushing TDs with spectacular punt returns --- one of 52 yards, the other 47 yards. Trufant also had four tackles and played tough in coverage, capping a greatday for the Cougar secondary. Corner Jason David intercepted the game's only pass and safety Erik Coleman picked up a fumble and ran it in for a TD from 11 yards out. Coleman also led the Cougars in tackles, with six.


For the second-straight week, walk-on junior Scott Lunde has been the Cougars' top receiver, pulling down six balls. And get this --- for the second straight year you won't find a word about him in the WSU media guide. Alas, Devard Darling continues to be the biggest-play guy in the Cougar grab-master corps. He scorched the Bobcats for 93 yards on five catches --- two of them TDs

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