WSU Football: Coach Paul Wulff Names His Starting Quarterback

Lew WrightSenior Writer ISeptember 2, 2009

PULLMAN, WA - SEPTEMBER 30:  A Washington State Cougars fan cheers during the game against the USC Trojans on September 30, 2006 at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Washington. USC won 28-22. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Washington State football Coach Paul Wulff made his choice as the starting quarterback for the season opener this Saturday against Stanford.

Or did he?

It seems that during fall camp neither Kevin Lopina nor Marshall Lobbestael made the sort of impression that would separate themselves as a starter and No. 2.

Sounds as though Coach Wulff will go with a two quarterback system for at least one game.

For the moment, Lopina will start the game this coming Saturday afternoon and run the first couple of offensive series. The plan is to bring in Lobbestael for the next series and see who can move the chains better.

This move by Coach Wulff isn't without precedent. Remember when Clete Casper and Ricky Turner shared the quarterback duties? The highlight of that combination was a trip to the 1981 Holiday Bowl. It wasn't a magic combination. The Cougs lost to BYU, led by Jim McMahon 38-36.

Thinking about the use of two quarterbacks, the Holiday Bowl comes to mind once again. Texas Coach Mack Brown played both Chance Mock and Vince Young under center against WSU when the two teams met at Qualcomm Stadium back in 2003. Again, it wasn't a magic combination. The Longhorns lost to WSU 28-20.

If you were to ask either Lopina or Lobbestael what they think about both getting playing time, each will tell you they're OK with it. Sure, both players want nothing more than to win football games this season, but let's get serious. Both players would prefer if they were "the man".

Coach Wulff has gone with a two quarterback rotation back in his days at Eastern. Though that experience didn't yield outstanding results in terms of wins and losses, the experience should prove valuable in making the most of trying the same rotation in Pac-10 play.

We expected to see the no huddle offense employed this season. We didn't expect to see a "no No. 1 quarterback" system.

Will it work?

Playing both Lopina and Lobbestael can work if managed carefully. There's even a chance the rotation scheme is dropped straight away. Should Lopina lead the Cougs to scoring drives on their first two possessions, its not likely he'll have to wait very long on the sidelines for another chance to lead the offense.

In a sense, suggesting a rotation at the quarterback position won't add any pressure on Lopina. If he sputtered on the first few offensive possessions, a change would be expected because the competition for the starting job has been close throughout fall camp.

Should Lobbestael get his chance on cue, it won't add pressure on him either. Knowing there will be a rotation as part of the game plan, he won't get caught by surprise or shocked by staying on the sidelines after a couple of series.

Perhaps rotating quarterbacks will become a non-story given the development of the offensive line and a full compliment of excellent running backs. In other words, it could be the primary duty of either player is simply to hand the ball over to Dwight Tardy, James Montgomery, or Logwone Mitz.

That's right.

Perhaps the biggest change for Cougar football this coming season is the strength on offense. Imagine this. WSU may very well be a team that runs to set up the passing game.

When was the last time Washington State football did that?


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