New faces on tap for Cougs at WR this week?

IT'S A GOOD THING the Cougars are deep at wide receiver because they could be without two-thirds of the starting corps in Eugene this weekend. Bill Doba on Monday morning also weighed in on why an all-out blitz on the Oregon offense might not be as effective as it was against ASU, plus much more.

Brandon Gibson (heel) and Charles Dillon (shoulder) are both questionable for Saturday. Doba didn't name potential replacements, and often doesn't do so until seeing how the practice week unfolds, but it's a pretty good bet speed burning freshman Jeshua Anderson, who had three catches for 98 yards against ASU, figures in prominently.

Finas Rabb, who drew a key pass interference call in one of the Cougs' TD drives against ASU, and Benny Ward would also likely get long looks this week. And Daniel Blackledge is another true freshman, like Anderson, mentioned by Doba this season as one a receiver having caught the eye of the coaching staff.

IN OTHER INJURY news, safety Alfonso Jackson, who sat out the ASU game with a concussion and stinger, looks promising for a return Saturday -- pending Tuesday tests. The outlook on linebacker Ken Dunn (hamstring) is slightly more pessimistic for the Oregon tilt with more to be known later in the week.

Andy Mattingly, who took Dunn's place against ASU and responded with four sacks and 13 tackles, and Xavier Hicks, who racked up 17 tackles and blocked a PAT in Jackson's stead, both came in for praise from Doba during the head man's morning conference call with reporters.

He said Hicks, a sophomore from California, made some youthful mistakes but "he played well." He noted that a safety with 17 tackles in one game isn't always a good sign about the general effectiveness of the defense.

As for Mattingly, Doba said "I thought for his first start, he had a good ballgame." The Spokane sophomore racked up the sacks Saturday because the Cougars' scheme called for two linebackers rushing. "Greg Trent goes in and kind of clears things out and the other 'backer (Mattingly) goes in and follows in the same gap, so he's expected to make those kinds of plays."

For those wondering in the immediate aftermath of Mattingly breakout performance why he hasn't been starting, Doba said Dunn has a bit more speed than the 241-pound Mattingly. Doba had previously mentioned Mattingly has good cover skills and he likes him at the strongside spot, where Cory Evans is the starter.

"Basically, speed. And it's nothing that he's doing wrong or anything. And he's improved a lot," said Doba.

DOBA SAID THE BLITZ, which was effective to the tune of 14 tackles-for-loss against the Sun Devils, might not figure in as prominently against the Ducks.

"It's not so much the mobile quarterback, it's part of it, but they run the option, too...With the dive option and counter dive option and the things that they run, you really have to be assignment perfect. A blitz might get you a minus 2-3 yards one play, and give them 67-yards the next play," said Doba.

At the same time, don't expect the game plan, which will be worked on today, tonight and Tuesday by the coaches, to have the linebackers and safeties dropping back into coverage all the time.

"We're not going to abandon it by any means. And again, we're still setting that (game plan)," said Doba.

THE DUCKS ON OFFENSE, said Doba, seem to run a handful of routes over and over. But then the next week four of those five routes are new, so it's a difficult offense to prepare for.

"They're a talented, talented football team. So we've got some work to do," said Doba.

ALL LOSSES ARE tough but the harder you work, the harder it is to accept defeat, and the Cougs worked very hard against ASU, said Doba.

"We came so close to getting that thing done," said Doba. "I just felt bad for the kids. They battled, and prepared, and we just came up a little bit short...the guys are pretty resilient. I think they might have been a little quieter this Sunday that in the past. But we just kept talking to them about hey, you've got six more, we're halfway through the season. It's not time to fold it up either way.

"We still have a chance to get after it and have a good year. So that's out focus."

Doba said the defensive players also saw rays of hope in their performance after five dissimilar outings that preceded it. Doba then related a story about his first college assistant's job at Indiana under Lee Corso. In the interview, Corso told him there would be times he would feel terrible after a win because his unit as group didn't perform. And that he'd feel more positive than he thought possible, after a loss, because his unit played well.

"And I said, 'You're crazy.' But he's not. There are times, even in defeat, where in certain phases, certain kids do feel good about their effort," said Doba.

  • Doba said any extra incentive Alex Brink has in going home to face Oregon is beneficial during the week in terms of preparation but from a performance standpoint, being extra jacked up coming into a game usually goes away after the first few plays.

  • Oregon has had some success running trick plays against WSU and Doba said he won't be surprised if Oregon brings a few more into the game on Saturday.

  • Doba said corner Chima Nwachukwu could play safety in a pinch were there a disastrous run on injuries at the position.

  • On the Stanford upset over Southern Cal, although the 'SC backups are all highly decorated coming out of high school, Doba noted the Trojans have had a number of injuries -- and it does make a difference. "Welcome to the club, Pete," Doba quipped. "We've been doing that for a few years. Nothing against Pete, of course."

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