At running back, Paul Wulff said senior Dwight Tardy will start Saturday against USC, with sophomore Logwone Mitz backing him up. Junior Marcus Richmond also might see playing time.
True freshman Carl Winston in light of James Montgomery's absence now will travel with the team and might play if further injuries should warrant. Wulff said Tardy, who has been hampered by ankle problems, is healthy now.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE also will experience some shuffling against USC -- with both starting guards out.
Wulff clarified that B.J. Guerra will be out four to six weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee. Zack Williams, who started the first two games at left guard, is expected out for another one to three weeks after sustaining a high ankle sprain against Hawaii.
Sophomore Steven Ayers, who started the first three games at left tackle, will shift inside to left guard. Redshirt freshman Tyson Pencer will make his first start in his place.
"Tyson Pencer is a player we've been high on athletically," Wulff said. "He's the type of player we want to bring in on the offensive line.
"He has an opportunity to take the job and run with it. He can match up with some speed rushers off the end because of his athleticism. We have a talented player and are anxious to watch him grow."
THE INJURY SITUATION is relatively unchanged on the other line. Wulff said senior defensive end Kevin Kooyman is still wearing a knee brace and probably won't be tested by doctors for another 2-3 weeks.
The Cougars' starting defensive line against USC likely will feature four athletes who did not play a down of college football in 2008.
Junior Bernard Wolfgramm is listed as a starter again at defensive tackle, but lost time to redshirt freshman Anthony Laurenzi after a 15-yard personal foul penalty against SMU. Wulff said Laurenzi stayed in simply because he was performing better than Wolfgramm. Another redshirt freshman, Dan Spitz, also made his first start at defensive end.
WULFF ALREADY SAID he would not dress up as "Tommy Trojan" as former WSU coach Mike Price once did, but he had another idea to rid USC of its mystique.
"I guess if I shot that (USC) horse on the way out, that might help," he said, laughing.
Wulff said it sounds simplistic, but his players must lock out the crowd and focus on themselves. He said the Cougars are improving in that regard and believes they only will get better with experience.
The Trojans won 69-0 last year at Martin Stadium, but Wulff said that game has not been mentioned as a motivator.
"We're a lot different team and they're a lot different team," he said. "I think our players have more confidence than we did a year ago."
SOPHOMORE QUARTERBACK Marshall Lobbestael, who completed 24 of 52 passes for 239 yards along with a couple of touchdowns and interceptions in Saturday's 30-27 overtime win against SMU, will make his second start of the season on Saturday.
"Marshall did some things and made some throws we haven't had in awhile," Wulff said. "We felt good about his performance."
Wulff said the plan remains to play true freshman Jeff Tuel depending on Lobbestael's play and how the team is performing. Wulff said Tuel still could redshirt if he doesn't play the next few weeks.
WULFF SAID HE is excited to see work begin on Phase III (see articles on CF.C) and talked about the impact on Cougar recruiting. He noted that upgrades at Oregon's Autzen Stadium and Oregon State's Reser Stadium have been a boon to the schools' recruiting efforts.
"There's a direct correlation to facilities and recruitment," he said, adding that Price signed some of his best classes after the weight-room addition and other upgrades following the 1998 Rose Bowl. "I think we're doing an outstanding job of recruiting now, but that will just give us another boost moving forward."
WULFF, WHEN ASKED again, reiterated he was "a little surprised, but not really" by Washington's 16-13 win Saturday against USC. He cited injuries to quarterback Matt Barkley and safety Taylor Mays in addition to the Trojans' inability to score in the red zone and missing all 10 third-down conversions. But he said the most significant difference might have been UW's Jake Locker against USC's Aaron Corp, who was making his first collegiate start.
"It's a prime example of having a veteran quarterback going against a first-year player," Wulff said. "Just go look at those two performances and those probably are the differences in the game."
But Barkley is expected to play Saturday, and Wulff said the Cougars will have to perform well to contain the Trojans' running game. Although they scored only 13 points, USC rushed for 250 yards against UW, led by junior Joe McKnight's 100 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
"That's going to be the biggest challenge for us," he said, adding that his team's run defense has improved during the last year. "Between them in Cal, they're probably the two strongest in the Pac-10 and the country. We've got a heck of a challenge on our hands to slow that down."
WULFF SAID TUESDAY morning that Montgomery would miss Saturday's game against USC. During his afternoon news conference, however, Wulff revealed that Montgomery underwent surgery Sunday morning for acute compartment syndrome in his left leg.
The surgery was performed by team physician Dr. Ed Tingstad and ends Montgomery's season.
Montgomery rushed for a team-high 167 yards on 37 carries (4.5 average) in three games.
Montgomery had been hampered by a knee injury since he rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in a 38-20 loss Sept. 12 against Hawaii.
Wulff provided little additional detail beyond what he said in a news release.
"I feel terrible for James," he said. "He has worked so hard since the minute he stepped on campus and is the complete package in terms of a student-athlete. He will be missed this season, but knowing James, he will continue to make a great impact on our program."
Injuries make for Cougar lineup changes
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