Washington State may start freshman quarterback against Oregon

    PULLMAN, Wash. — Freshman quarterback Marshall Lobbestael is preparing for what could be the first start of his college career after Washington State's top two quarterbacks went down with injuries in the win over Portland State.

    Lobbestael took all the snaps at Sunday's practice as the Cougars (1-3) began preparing for Oregon on Saturday.

    "There is no question he's got a feel for the game," Coach Paul Wulff said after Lobbestael sparkled in the second half of Saturday's 48-9 win over Portland State, their first victory of the season.

    The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Lobbestael led Oak Harbor to the 2006 state 4A title. But he had hardly played since before entering the game early in the third quarter after quarterback Gary Rogers suffered a broken neck following a late hit.

    Lobbestael's first two passes resulted in touchdowns, and he finished 9-of-12 for 149 yards and no interceptions. On Monday he was named Pacific-10 Conference Offensive Player of the Week. Prior to the Portland State game he had thrown only two passes in his college career.

    Meanwhile, Rogers was able to walk out of Pullman Regional Hospital on Sunday, after suffering a cervical spine fracture that did not require surgery, WSU trainer Bill Drake said. Recovery time is typically three to four months, so Rogers' college career is likely over.

    Wulff said the initial hit on Rogers by safety Aaron Dickson did not look that bad.

    "I was very stunned," Wulff said Sunday. "A lot of that was based on the type of hit he took. It didn't look like it was a blow to the neck or the head, that region."

    Rogers retained feeling in his extremities during the 15 minutes he was on the ground before taken off by ambulance, Wulff said.

    Rogers wore a hard collar as he left the hospital. The injury was described by Drake as a small C7 fracture, a non-displaced break of the seventh bone from the base of the skull. There is no spinal cord or neurological damage and Rogers is expected to get his strength and range of motion back, Drake said.

    Wulff visited with Rogers and his family Saturday night and said Rogers was "obviously disappointed and sad, but thankful, too."

    Wulff said the hit on Rogers was not flagrant.

    "It wasn't extremely late, but it was late and it was a foul," Wulff said. "It really wasn't necessary. That's all I can say. It wasn't an actual cheap shot, it was just a late hit."

    Rogers, out of Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, spent three years as the backup to Alex Brink before winning the starting job this year. But he had been coming off the bench the past two games after the offense failed to click.

    Rogers had gone in after starter Kevin Lopina left before halftime with a deep bruise on his throwing shoulder and didn't return. Lopina is questionable for Saturday's game with Oregon.

    "We're hoping he can improve throughout the week," Wulff said.

    "You can tell he's got a little bit of moxie," Wulff said.

    Receiver Brandon Gibson is a fan.

    "Marshall played exceptionally well," Gibson said. "He ran the offense to a 'T' and sparked us."

    Lobbestael said it was fun to play in a game, even if the circumstances were grim because of the injuries to Rogers and Lopina.

    "The first couple of plays I tried to act calm," he said.

    Behind Lobbestael, the quarterbacks are walk-on Dan Wagner and J.T. Levenseller, a true freshman who enrolled in January.

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