Since Alex Brink's first start as a redshirt freshman in 2004 at Reser Stadium, something about the Oregon State defense has given the Cougars...
PULLMAN — Since Alex Brink’s first start as a redshirt freshman in 2004 at Reser Stadium, something about the Oregon State defense has given the Cougars quarterback nightmares.
In the senior quarterback’s final start at Martin Stadium on Saturday, Oregon State made it an ending to forget for WSU’s all-time leading passer, who will leave without playing in a bowl game.
Brink was forced into six interceptions, tying a WSU record, in what was probably the worst game he has played in a 52-17 loss.
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“This is a bad feeling right now,” Brink said. “We had such a great opportunity coming into these final two games.”
The Cougars, who fell to 4-7, end their season Saturday at Husky Stadium in the Apple Cup.
“I have so much respect for that guy,” Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. “He’s had a tremendous career, and I’m very proud of what he’s done. I’m just glad he didn’t do it tonight.”
Oregon State linebacker Derrick Doggett felt for Brink.
“You hate to see him end his season like that,” he said. “He’s been so great.”
The Beavers have always haunted Brink. Thirteen of his 43 career interceptions have come against Oregon State. In 2004, Brink was 15 of 41 for 201 yards and two interceptions in a 38-19 loss. That game dropped the Cougars to 3-4, which gave WSU its first losing record since 2000.
In 2005, Brink threw for a school record 531 yards against the Beavers, but four second-half interceptions helped turn a 30-13 WSU lead into a 44-33 loss.
The 2004 and 2005 losses hurt WSU’s bowl hopes. This one put an end to them, and any chance Brink had to punctuate his place in the team record book.
It appeared WSU was catching OSU’s defense at the right time. The Beavers were without three defensive backs — starters Brandon Hughes and Bryan Payton and backup James Dockery — in the first half after they were ejected in the second half of last week’s 29-23 win over Washington.
But it didn’t matter because the OSU front seven generated a lot of pressure on Brink, forcing him into quick throws and bad decisions.
“We forced him to throw those picks,” said Cougars right guard Dan Rowlands. “He was getting hit from all over the place. Their defensive ends were a lot quicker than we thought. It’s our fault that we weren’t blocking good. He had to switch to a three-step drop instead of a five-step drop.”
Said receiver Brandon Gibson: “When he doesn’t have time, it’s hard to connect on anything. Alex didn’t have enough time to even think back there.”
Brink knew what to expect.
“We certainly knew they were going to do that — we felt like we could counter,” he said. “The pressure definitely got to us.”
Brink admitted the fierce pass rush, the heavy rain and the empty bleachers Saturday night may have been the most fitting ending to his home era at WSU.
“I think today kind of signifies it for me,” he said. “It’s been a place of ups and downs for me. … I’d certainly love to go out on a better note than this, no doubt about that. But Martin Stadium is a place I’ll never forget.”