Brink looks for a win in first trip home

WSU QUARTERBACK ALEX BRINK, prepping for his first-ever college game back home in Eugene, said Tuesday that Cougar slotback Michael Bumpus may see more time lining up out on the flanks this week in light of the injury status of Brandon Gibson and Charles Dillon.

Bumpus has a unique ability to find the seams in the middle and to make extra yards in traffic. In other words, he makes for a perfect slotback. Brink said on Tuesday that Bumpus might also be picking up yards elsewhere on the field in Saturday's game at Oregon.

"He's a guy that we value a lot and in that (slotback) role. And we have Charles and Brandon on the outside ... This week might be an opportunity where he is going to get a chance to play outside, and kind of show what he can do out there. So we definitely like what he does inside and are excited by the opportunity that maybe he can get this week," said Brink.

At the same time, Bumpus is no stranger to playing out wide. That's where he lines up when WSU is in its two-receiver set.

BRINK SAID he has more confidence throwing the ball into tight coverage this year because there are "4-5 guys" who will go up and get it "80-90 percent" of the time. Still, potentially losing two of the starting three receivers would seem a daunting hit with the nation's No. 8-ranked team up next.

But Brink said no one is ruling out Gibson (heel) and Dillon (shoulder).

If either is unable to go, and it appears early on Dillon is the more likely of the two to be ready for Saturday, the Cougs have other weapons ready to step in, said Brink, including Jeshua Anderson who offered a glimpse of his potential last week.

"We're going to prepare like they're not going to be able to go and we're going to get those young guys ready," said Brink.

Brink said he didn't think playing in his hometown and being "too jacked up" would be an issue, although he couldn't promise the same for fellow Eugene native Chris Baltzer.

"He may not be in as check as I will be," Brink quipped of the Cougars' backup linebacker.

SOME OF THE focus this week will be on Brink's first time playing in Autzen Stadium. A quirk in the scheduling has had Oregon visiting Pullman the past three seasons and Brink's state title victory at Sheldon High was held in PGE Park.

Indeed, the last time the Cougs ventured to Eugene was in 2003, when Brink was on the sidelines as a redshirt freshman watching the Cougs steamroll their way to a 55-16 win over the Ducks. Brink said the emphasis for him this week, however, lies elsewhere.

"Yeah, the opportunity is incredible, to come from Eugene and have the opportunity to play the Ducks, a team I grew up watching, is going to be awesome. But...we need to win a football game. Bad. That's really first and foremost in my mind," said Brink.

AS FOR ONE of the keys to victory, Brink cited the same thing he did prior to ASU -- balance on offense.

"I said it last week and I'll say it again, I don't think we can throw it 50 times and be successful. Teams in this league, defenses, they'll figure it out (you're going to pass) throw 50 times and you can't run the ball, that's tough, that's tough on anybody.

"We need to be able to control the line of scrimmage and get tough yards on third and shot, and I'll always have to throw and be able to run the football," said Brink.

BEING THE QUARTERBACK means that credit for a win and blame for a loss, oftentimes in disproportionate measure, goes with the territory. With the Cougs at 2-4 and not having gone bowling the last three seasons, criticism by fans has not been in short supply. How does he deal with that?

"I've learned over the years to kind of block it out. It's hard, obviously as a player and as a person you want people to like you and respect what you do. But in the end, you can't make everybody happy, so I try and just focus on what my teammates and coaches tell me, and keep my friends and family close to me. That's what's important and I realize that," he said.

BRINK, WHO passed Jason Gesser last week for all-time passing yards and holds most of the Cougar quarterback records, said he grew up attending Oregon games and had plenty of green and gold gear as a young fan of the hometown team. In retrospect, however, he said he's glad Oregon didn't offer him a scholarship and things worked out the way they did.

"I was certainly disappointed (they didn't offer).. but I can't say honestly I would have gone there," said Brink. "But it would have been nice to get that attention from the hometown school.

"There's no doubt about it that this was the right fit for me. Those schools, like Boise and what-not, but I found a home here. I found people I care about and who care about me. And it's not just about football, the education I got, the people I met, and just the experience of being in Pullman -- it's a great place and I think anybody who has been here will tell you that," he said.

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