Lobbestael shines in first practice as DA MAN

PULLMAN -- In the span of four days, Marshall Lobbestael has gone from third-stringer to reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week to new No. 1 signal caller at Quarterback U. Things are different for the second-year freshman. But Lobbestael, known as a down-to-earth guy, is still Lobbestael. He said Tuesday after a practice in which he shined that he just wants mom to know he's still doing his homework.

"I get a lot more text messages on my phone from all my friends and stuff. Besides that, nothing really -- just a couple of my teammates give me some flack, making fun of me a little bit about certain stuff," Lobbestael replied to a question about how life has changed since his 9-for-12, 149-yard, two-TD performance off the bench Saturday against Portland State.

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"Other than that, I don't know, it's basically the same. I just try to do what I always do and get school right, cause if I don't my parents would probably get on me, so I'm telling them right now on record I'm doing my homework," said the Oak Harbor product.

The 6-3, 199-pound Lobbestael took the majority of first-team reps in Tuesday's practice and completed most of his passes. He showed off his quick release and put the ball on the money most of the time. He had a little help from All American receiver Brandon Gibson, who turned in some outstanding grabs. When the offense went against the first team defense, Lobbestael teamed with Gibson for an oh-so-sweet completion against cornerback Markus Dawes that went for a big gain.

True freshman J.T. Levenseller, who is ticketed for a redshirt this season, also took some snaps with the No. 1 offense. With Gary Rogers out for the season and Kevin Lopina now out indefinitely, Levenseller (6-1, 178) may be called on to burn the shirt if anything happens to Lobbestael. The only other QB on the roster is second-year freshman Dan Wagner (6-0, 209), a walk-on from Portland.

Levenseller was on the throwing end of the day's niftiest play, when running back Logwone Mitz took a screen pass for a long gain, replete with shifty moves.

Head coach Paul Wulff said he had planned this week's practices to be without Lopina, who originally was thought to have a deep shoulder bruise that might make him a game-time decision on Saturday. But news today that he also suffered a fracture in a vertebrae makes the future more uncertain.

"It (Lopina's absence) doesn't effect this week's preparation, but it does effect obviously beyond this week. That really means J.T. Levenseller has to be ready to go, and so that's the direction we're going. And Dan Wagner also. All three of them have to be ready to go."

Overall, Wulff was upbeat about the practice. "It went good," he said. "We had a good practice. We'll come back tomorrow and hopefully have a better one."

LOBBESTAEL SPENT EXTRA time Monday evening studying film of Oregon -- this Saturday's Homecoming opponent -- but says he doesn't want to get "all geeked out" about his preparation for games. He said the big difference he needs to gear for this week is the speed of the Ducks vs. the speed of Portland State.

Kickoff is set for 3:15 pm with live TV coverage on FSN. Oregon (3-1) is a three-TD favorite.

"I knew the offense pretty good I thought (against Portland State), because our meetings are really good," said Lobbestael. "So right now I'm catching up learning the game — getting the game plan in my head and trying to get all my reads and checks down. So the mental part is probably what I'm working on most...you get to do a lot more with the 1s, and you take a lot less mental reps."

VAUGHN LESUMA, WHO moved from starting left tackle to starting left guard last week, was back at LT on Tuesday, with B.J. Guerra at left guard. Against PSU, Joe Eppele started at left tackle and Lesuma at left guard. Wulff said Eppele needs to step up his game. The coach was matter-of-fact about the ongoing line shuffle: "If they're blocking well, they won't shuffle. If they're not executing, we'll shuffle. So, we're just trying to get some consistency and help our team is all we're try to do. We're just hoping some guys step up and give us that."

Speaking about the team generally, Wulff said he's seeing progress in the 1-3 Cougs. "I have confidence that these guys are starting to learn how to compete and work hard. We're making some headway."

NOTABLE NOTES:
• Offensive lineman Andrew Roxas (knee) did individual drill work Tuesday, but Wulff didn't think he would be ready for Saturday's game. "I'm realistic. I've been there where he's at, and to come back and expect much out of him wouldn't be fair." Roxas also sat out the Portland State game.

• Roxas, Lobbestael and Eppele made a bee-line for Pullman Regional Hospital after the PSU game to check on Rogers. Lobbestael said he and his teammates are praying for the speedy recoveries of Rogers and Lopina. Rogers (cervical spine fracture) was released Sunday afternoon.

• FSN's broadcasting crew in Pullman on Saturday will feature Rich Burk on play-by-play, Cougar great Jason Gesser doing color, and Jen Mueller serving as the sideline reporter.

• Former Cougar record-setting All-America running back Rueben Mayes, selected for induction into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame earlier this year, will be honored at halftime on Saturday. Mayes is the first Cougar player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame since tackle Glen "Turk" Edwards (1929-31) was enshrined in 1975, and the third player overall. Center Mel Hein (1928-30) was the first Cougar to be inducted in 1954, while coaches Orin "Babe" Hollingbery (1979) and Forest "Evy" Evashevski (2000) complete the list of Cougars in the Hall of Fame.

• Through the first four weeks of this season, 20 WSU players have registered their first collegiate start -- 13 on offense and seven on defense.

• Lobbestael, Lopina and Rogers each threw for more than 100 yards against Portland State. WSU researchers stopped at 1983 in their quest to find the last time three QBs hit the 100-yard mark in one game.


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