The word gamesmanship and Paul Wulff do not exactly go hand in hand with each other.
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In a sport where most coaches will use slight of hand, or out-of-leftfield extremities to protect their injury reports, Paul Wulff goes the other way with these type of things.
One day after revealing that Jeff Tuel has been medically cleared to practice making him available for play, Wulff put the kibosh on any potential QB controversy by naming Marshall Lobbestael as his starting QB as Washington State travels to Pasadena to face Rick Neuheisel and the UCLA Bruins.
For Paul Wulff, his decision to start Lobbestael against UCLA was a relatively easy one to make for two reasons.
1. It is not a dire, or desperate situation for Washington State.
The Cougars are 3-1 and have regained all of it’s confidence after rallying from 10 points down to snatch away a victory from Colorado in come from behind fashion. Wulff doesn’t need to risk Jeff Tuel when Marshall Lobbestael has done a fantastic job as the starting QB.
Not Only had Lobbestael exceeded expectations, but he has shown that he can get better as the week’s go along. He has passed for 350+ yards in three consecutive games. His 90/142, 1335 yards, 13 TD’s, 3 INT’s, 63.4 Com%, and 9.4 YPA, makes him as the 16th rated passer in the nation, and 3rd best in the conference.
Because of Lobbestael’s ability to raise his game, Wulff now has the luxury to take his time to make the best possible decision when it comes to the QB position.
2. The second thing that needs to be considered is just because Jeff Tuel was medically cleared to play, doesn’t actually mean he is 100% ready to play in a game.
The last thing the Cougars can have is a set back in Tuel’s recovery. Too much is at stake for Paul Wulff and his coaching future. He cannot afford to botch this.
As easy as it would be for Wulff to start Tuel, and you wouldn’t blame him if he did, you need to consider Jeff Tuel’s long term health, and the program’s long term success before making an emotional decision that could have serious consequences if you make the wrong decision.
Paul Wulff ended up making this a non-issue by tabbing Lobbestael as the starter for UCLA . And it was the the best possible decision because Jeff Tuel just isn’t ready to play.
The Cougars, for the first time in three years, are in the drivers seat. They are 3-1, moderately healthy, and now have opportunity to get to homecoming 4-1. The smart play was to give Jeff Tuel another week to prepare for Stanford.
If Tuel cannot go against Stanford, Wulff will have a red hot Lobbestael for as long as needs him. And that’s a good problem to have.
WSU @ UCLA 7:30PM
TV: Root Sports Ch. 30
Radio: 770 KTTH
Hopeful Prediction: 34-17 Washington State