Part 9: Proven Or Unproven? Paul Wulff's Optimism at QB

Kristian SiutaCorrespondent IIJuly 21, 2009

PULLMAN, WA - OCTOBER 21:  Washington State Cougars fans and their mascot cheer during the game against the Oregon Ducks on October 21, 2006 at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Washington. Washington State won 34-23. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Washington State Head Coach Paul Wulff’s second season in Pullman might look eerily similar to his 2008 debut in the Pac-10.  While the quarterback position will be unsettling for Cougar fans, there are glimmers of hope in the Palouse.  

Kevin Lopina started the majority of 2008 as Paul Wulff’s signal caller to orchestrate the no-huddle offense for the Cougars.  With inexperience, youth, and ultimate lack of success, Wulff and the sinking offense decided to send out a mayday on the no-huddle style.

Perhaps the saying, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” will be evident again in 2009.

Wulff, once again has implemented the no huddle offense during the spring and has handed over the quarterback duties to Lopina for a second season.  

Kevin Lopina, a heralded high school recruit from Concord's (CA) De La Salle football powerhouse, transferred from Kansas State after his freshman campaign to Pullman to finish out his college career with the Cougars.  

The starting job in the spring was Lopina’s to earn and lose, and so far, so good for Lopina.  He held onto the first unit snaps going into summer workouts.

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Lopina and the Cougars did have some bright spots last year, albeit winning only two games.  However, there was some promising play from the offense last season.  

The numbers might not have always been there for Paul Wulff and his offense, led by Lopina.  However, the stat that means the most at the end of the day was that Lopina won two more games than any other quarterback on the roster.

Lopina posted 841 yards and no touchdowns in 8 games started and 9 appearances.  For a quarterback, the number one objective is to win games.

Washington State did not have much success with that task last season, although Lopina did accomplish that feat twice while all other competitors came up short.

Marshall Lobbestael, who shared time during Lopina’s injury, tallied 571 yards and four touchdowns and four interceptions.  Lobbestael, also threw two of his touchdown passes in the Cougars' blowout victory of Portland State last fall. 

The spring, however, did not bring success for Lobbestael.  He was suspended due to off-the-field issues with the law, and one might get the feeling he will not be given the keys to the Cougars offense without his head on straight this fall.

The dark horse in this quarterback race might be J.T. Levenseller (6'1", 187, sophomore) from local Pullman High School.  Levenseller played sparingly in 2008 due to season-ending injuries to Senior Gary Rogers and the aforementioned Lobbestael.

In his limited work, Levenseller completed 17 of 34 passes for 134 yards and two interceptions.  Also, J.T. might have some extra homework to complete following daily workouts and practices.  His father is current Washington State wide receivers coach Mike Levenseller.

With Lopina, Lobbestael, and Levenseller, there is solid competition at the quarterback position for the Cougars.  With good competition brings out the best in all parties.

In Paul Wulff’s no-huddle, quick-style attack, the starting job will be given to the quarterback that exemplifies his offense's ambition and has garnered the knowledge of the system to succeed on the field in 2009 and beyond.

The senior Lopina looks to be the guy for the system, however.  Levenseller as a sophomore this fall might be ready to lead his hometown Cougars to increased success in 2009.


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